Innovation, or the development and application of ideas that improve the way things are done, can help your business grow by improving productivity and efficiency.
So says Mike Anderson, founder and CEO of NSBC (National Small Business Chamber). He continues: “Your ability to innovate will also help your business to remain competitive and respond to changes. Being innovative takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of risk. But, if you want to thrive and stay ahead of the game, it’s an essential part of being a business owner.”
Here are 10 tips for encouraging innovation:
Get your team on-board. Have them involved in the entire innovation process, such as solving problems during a meeting and providing a suggestion box. Reward innovation and celebrate success. Appropriate incentives can play a significant role in encouraging staff to think creatively.
Make innovation a routine. Schedule an hour or so each week to brainstorm and exercise you and your team’s creativity, and establish goals that encourage you to improve your business.
Encourage suggestions. Ask or survey your employees, customers, and even suppliers, if they have any suggestions on how you can improve your business.
Create a supportive atmosphere in which people feel free to express their ideas without the risk of criticism.
Encourage risk-taking and experimentation – don’t penalise people who try new ideas that fail. Remember, fear destroys innovation.
Stress that people at all levels of the business share responsibility for innovation, so everybody feels involved in taking the business forward. The fewer the layers of decision-making in your business, the more people feel their ideas matter.
Look for imagination and creativity when recruiting new employees. Remember that innovative thinkers aren't always those with the most impressive list of qualifications.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Keep innovation simple by improving your existing products or services, trying out a new marketing strategy, or finding a supplier that is offering you a better rate.
Invest in innovation. Purchase technology and equipment that can improve your business operations. Also, invest in developing new products and services
Educate yourself. Continue to learn new skills or information by attending workshops, webinars, conferences, local industry events, and reading everything from blog posts to books.