Eight Tips for Creating a More Innovative Business

Photo of author

(Newswire.net — January 12, 2016) — Whether your business is brand new or well-established, innovation can be a challenge. In a highly competitive market, the ability to constantly adapt and evolve your business is essential to its survival. To help you get started, here are eight tips for creating a more innovative business:

1. Encourage problem solving. Anyone in your organization can identify a problem and escalate it to management. Rather than solving the issue right away, encourage employees to come up with creative solutions on their own. In many cases, the employee may already have a great solution. Giving them the approval to mobilize the necessary resources to resolve the problem encourages future innovation. In cases where a problem is presented without a viable solution available, encourage employees to brainstorm ways to resolve the issue. Let employees know that their innovation is appreciated by recognizing their contribution in the next all-hands or department meeting.

2. Reach out to your customer base. Your customers are the lifeblood of your company. Enlisting customer feedback about the products or services that your company provides is a great way to develop new ideas. Although there are many ways to go about this, surveys and interviews may be the most effective. 

Customer surveys are great for gathering data on specific topics. Prior to developing one, take some time to identify which areas of your business you would like to improve. This allows you to develop targeted questions that will help fulfill your end goal. Also, rather than asking simple yes or no questions, try to construct open-ended questions that will engage your customers. If you have trouble getting customers to complete the survey, consider offering an incentive. Studies have shown that incentives can increase survey participation by as much as 20 percent.

Think of a customer interview as an oral survey. Your objective is to probe the customer about their satisfaction with the products or services that your company provides. Ask customers how they think your company can improve the products it produces. Similarly, ask them how your services could better meet their needs. You will be surprised at the great responses you can get from simply talking to your customers. 

3. Get out on the frontlines. Too often, management and senior employees become detached from the work being done on the frontlines. To address this issue, encourage all senior level and supervisory employees to spend one day on the frontlines each quarter. This allows them to gain exposure to some of the duties and challenges faced by lower-level employees. Not only does this help employees develop a better appreciation for the work employees do, but it also gives them a fresh perspective of that individual job function. Some of the most innovative ideas come from employees that are not directly involved in a specific job each day. A new set of eyes may be just what was needed to diagnose or resolve issues that have gone unnoticed by others.

4. Make time to innovate. Sometimes an employee may have a great idea, but their heavy workload prevents them from acting on it. To help address issues like this and keep these employees motivated, find a way to carve out time designated solely for special projects. On a monthly or quarterly basis, set aside two to four hours where employees can work on a pet project of their choice. At the end of the innovation period, encourage employees to share their projects with the group. Ask them to specifically explain what issues their idea would address and what resources would be required to implement it.

5. Consider a crossover product. Do not be afraid to venture into new territory. As successful crossover entrepreneurs like GoDaddy founder turned golf mogul Bob Parsons proved – creating a new product that is unrelated to your industry can be a smart way to expand your brand. This type of innovation challenges your company to explore the many ways you can provide value to customers. Expanding your company’s scope beyond just a few products is a great way to ensure the longevity of your company.

6. Draw on individual strengths. Each of your employees has unique skills and experiences to bring to the table. Remember to use these differences to your advantage. Take some time to identify the strengths of your staff. 

7. Encourage collaboration. Innovation requires a collective effort. It is by no means a solo sport. Encourage employees to work together to come up with ideas or special projects that can improve products, services or business processes. 

8. Learn from your failures. Not every idea is going be a success. Rather than lamenting failures, take note of the lessons learned and apply them towards the next attempt. This positive attitude creates a safe environment where employees can innovate freely. 

Innovation is an essential part of ensuring the success and longevity of your business. Follow these 8 simple tips and you will be well on your way to running a successful, more innovative business.