Business innovation can drive your success forward and makes your business stand out from the competition.
Most people are aware of the worldwide brands that have embraced business innovation and disrupted their niches, changing our lives as a result — think Netflix, Apple, Tesla, etc.
But are innovators born this way or can one learn to innovate?
No matter who you are, there will always be opportunities to create something new for your business. You just need to home in on your unique skills to get you there.
Below, we’ll discuss some practical habits you can try to spark inspiration.
Related: The 4 leadership skills we all need
10 Practical habits that will inspire business innovation
We can all use some fresh thinking in our lives. Here are 10 practical ways of introducing innovative habits into any business.
1. Start small
Innovating doesn’t need to be a massive endeavor that stresses you out. Look at your business processes one by one and see where you can:
- Make small improvements
- Eliminate unnecessary time-consuming tasks
- Avoid things that don’t add value to your customer’s experience
Is there anything that you can simplify and make more effective? Small changes can result in major improvements over time.
2. Leave some space for creativity
It’s a well-known fact that most companies focus on efficiency, which often emphasizes things like scale and cost reduction. But this type of approach can be limiting and doesn’t leave a lot of room for business innovation.
You won’t be able to succeed unless you actually try doing something different in your business.
Make sure to leave room for things like:
- Trial and error
Additionally, business innovation involves a lot of:
- Reimagining your products/service
This process will give you a new level of understanding over your competitors.
3. Embrace failure and uncertainty
Embracing failure and uncertainty is almost as important as having realistic expectations.
Business innovation comes from trying different things, which may not always be consistent or perfect.
Sometimes you won’t see results that are profitable or ground-breaking. This path can be riddled with failure and unpredictability.
But if you persevere, your business will emerge better and stronger.
4. Embrace an innovative mindset
Without an innovative mindset, you won’t be able to break comfortable barriers. Sticking to the same routines and safe practices won’t allow you to explore new possibilities.
Remember, a creative mindset requires inspiration
So, inform yourself about the leaders and companies that have made progress in business innovation.
You should also create a safe place for your team to share their ideas, too. Input from your staff can result in valuable business innovations, especially when discussing their daily interactions with customers.
5. Gather feedback from your customers
Customer feedback can be an important tool for highlighting areas that require your attention. Sometimes their comments will inspire you to make a new improvement, while other times it might help you eliminate a process that’s not working well.
Customers share their feedback not only in person, but also online.
Be sure to listen to what your customers are saying on:
- Various social media channels
- Review websites
- Niche sites
Welcome negative feedback, as it can be a glimpse into what’s happening with your business. Think of it as a window that shows you various ways to improve.
6. Focus on experience
Many companies focus on improving the functional features of their products and services. And while functionality is important, you’ll want to focus more on your customer’s overall experience when they interact with your business.
People often choose a product that’s less advanced because of the experience it provides.
It’s important to understand ways you can improve their experiences, both online and off. Compare what your competitors are doing to see if you can implement even better ideas.
7. Invest in innovation and take advantage of SR&ED tax credits
Investing in new ideas can have some additional benefits during tax season. The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SRED) program is a program developed and fully funded by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
This program was created to support:
- Business development in Canada
According to Calgary SRED, it also aids in “providing over $4 billion dollars in grant funding to over 18,000 Canadian companies each year." Plus, it’s possible to “recover up to 64% per cent of qualifying expenditures in refundable or non-refundable grant funding (except for Quebec).”
8. Involve your team in the process
It’s important to involve your team in the innovation process and let them know their suggestions and ideas are valued and respected. Most people can suggest at least a couple of ways to improve their jobs, but they may not be comfortable sharing them.
Examples of ways you can create a safe space include:
- Setting up a suggestion box in a public space
- Holding creative workshops
- Inviting feedback in problem-solving brainstorming sessions
It’s important to create a company culture where innovation is encouraged. Let your team know that mistakes are often learning experiences. Allow them to feel empowered whenever they take on innovative and risk-taking activities. And look for ways to reward their ideas instead of punishing them.
9. Deliver products and services people need
People are not always sure what they need.
Nobody knew they needed an iPhone until they saw one.
But gathering customer feedback can be tricky because customers may not always know what they want. The best thing to do is offer them something that is beyond their expectations.
Take note of how companies like Apple have given their customers a ground-breaking selection of products.
Then, focus on delivering products and services that combine additional valuable features or functions. Look for ways to offer your customers things they may not expect to have and see if it makes a difference in their experience.
10. Watch for trends
The market is always changing, even though we may not notice it.
Who could have imagined that over 28.1 million Canadians made purchases online in 2019, which resulted in 1.85 billion Canadian dollars in e-commerce retail trade sales?
But in order to stay ahead of the game online, it’s important you learn to catch a hint of the trend before it becomes a widespread idea.
Online trends to be aware of should relate to:
- The type of industry you’re in
- What’s happening with your customers
- Things that are affecting your customer’s lives
- Ways you can solve your customer’s problems and add more value
COVID-19 has hit many industries in negative ways, but it also opened opportunities for many others.
More people are embracing e-commerce and online food delivery services than ever before.
Smart business owners are jumping on this trend to accommodate the demand.
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Tackle business innovation one step at a time
Business innovation doesn’t need to be intimidating. By starting small, you are already getting ahead of your competition. Remember, business innovation can lead to:
- Improved processes
- Increased profitability
- Better productivity and efficiency
- Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty
It’s a long-term process that involves a lot of teamwork and creativity. Don’t be afraid to take risks and have a little faith in experimenting. You’ll need to believe in yourself and your team, as well as your products and services.