Innovation – everybody is talking about it.
Admit it. If you’re like me, it’s probably crossed your mind that ‘doing innovation’ is something a lot of companies say they do. But for many, it’s just marketing fluff.
The government website for businesses says: “Innovation generally refers to changing or creating more effective processes, products and ideas, and can increase the likelihood of a business succeeding.” (1)
Another simple definition is this: Innovation = Invention x Commercialisation (2)
Meaning, you might not necessarily have to invent something new, but perhaps you use it in a different and better way, successfully building your business from an invention or idea that someone else first came up with.
Take Apple. We all think of them as an incredibly innovative company but in the case of the computer mouse, that was created by Xerox PARC not Apple. Apple was just really clever about commercialising the invention. Same for Google and their million dollar cash cow AdWords. Text-based, keyword driven ads on search results pages was invented by a company called Overture. Ever heard of them??? Not me.
Here are 5 ways of making your business innovative:
- Find out more about the market, your customers – how they think and feel. What they want and need. Learn more about your competitors. Listen. Keep an open mind.
- Make a business plan that has innovation as a key driver to your business.
- Encourage your people to think about new ways of doing things to grow your business. Inspire and motivate them to do so.
- Keep the communication channels open and listen to your customers and your staff to help generate ideas.
- Don’t be afraid to ask others. Seek advice from entrepreneurs in other companies not necessarily in your industry. Read books and blogs written by inspirational business owners and managers.
So if you have a list of New Year’s resolutions for work, perhaps making innovation your competitive advantage should be on that list.
- Business.gov.au website http://www.business.gov.au/business-topics/business-planning/innovation/Pages/default.aspx
- Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet (2013)
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net