Innovate or Die: A Survival Kit for Small Business

Innovate or Die: A Survival Kit for Small Business

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, if entrepreneurs are unable to innovate, they fall behind and eventually lose clients to other, more innovative and responsive companies. It may seem that the resource pool of a larger organization would provide an advantage to innovation, but smaller organizations are more able to implement ideas quickly, because the final decision-maker is much more hands-on. Still, where do the ideas come from to stay one step ahead of the competition?

Look to your customers for answers. Your customers are regularly giving you feedback on your business and letting you know about their wants, desires, pain points, and complaints. Sometimes the information is difficult to read, such as when a customer unsubscribes from your newsletter or simply stops showing up at your business. Other times, customers are more forthright with their opinions. Take a more proactive approach, such as by using customer surveys or exit interviews.

Get immediate feedback. Before completing a client call or meeting, ask about their experience during that meeting and with your company as a whole. Ask “What one thing do you like best about working with us?” and “If you could suggest one way that we could improve our service, what would that be?” This kind of feedback has real meat in it, and clients are most likely to answer honestly because they have a chance to offer suggestions, not just answer “yes” or “no”.

Book time off just to think. Decisions are often made on the fly without due consideration. Some of them work instantly such as those that pop into your mind in the shower or on a walk, or in that relaxed half-sleep just before you jump out of bed in the morning. They are often solving an immediate problem or need. But purposefully setting aside time in a relaxing and quiet environment when you are feeling most creative and have your overall strategy in mind is also essential. Just ensure you have your favourite notebook with you, so that great ideas aren’t lost.

Embrace cross education. Become an avid reader in areas that have nothing to do with your business. Innovative ideas or practices in one industry could instill an innovative idea in your own company or industry. Read everything you have time for and speak to interesting people outside your industry. You never know where a great idea will originate from.

And if you ever get stuck, try to answer this question: “What is currently impossible, but if it were possible, would drastically change my industry for the better?” Attempting to answer this question will get the ideas flowing.

Make it an innovative day!

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