Creating an Innovative First Business Strategy

- Simon Buck

Businesses in today’s markets grow and succeed for all sorts of reasons. Some tend to be renowned for their service, some for their products, some even for their culture or brand advertising. All of these things are important components, but if you look at what truly makes a business stand out in both busy and competitive marketplaces, it’s the ability to embrace innovation. 

Innovative leaders can include relatively new organisations such as Uber, Amazon or Airbnb, which change the way we interact with services and products to disrupt what was previously accepted, they had the belief that there must be a better way, to challenge convention. There are also the more established businesses such as Apple and Microsoft that have been around for decades but constantly reinvent themselves and drive innovation in every area of their business. 

There is a popular misconception however that this kind of innovation is the reserve of the corporates with huge R&D and marketing budgets, but innovation can be simple. Start by asking yourself the question, “what frustrates people about my industry” and can you take that frustration away? Pimlico plumbers would be a perfect example of a traditional sector but applying an innovative approach. 

For innovation to work though it must be at the heart of the business and therefore the overall business strategy. 

How Innovation Helps Drive Business Success

We’ve all heard the phrase “adapt or die” and for businesses to achieve success in today’s modern world it’s never been more important. Take, for example, the massive expansion in technological advancements in the past decade; because of this extreme growth, businesses have been forced to adapt and expand at a greater rate than at any time in history. 

If you are trying to identify where you might need to innovate then Ansoff’s matrix for developing a marketing strategy can also be used here.   

How Innovation Helps Drive Business Success

What do your customers need or is there an opportunity for something new? Simply put, companies cannot afford to just stay afloat, if they do not embrace innovation and change, they drown. Let’s cast our mind back to Blockbuster or Kodak, emerging technology and buyer behaviour was staring them in the face but they weren’t prepared to accept it. “Denial” or “hope” is not a strategy!

Key Benefits of Having an Innovative Business Strategy

If you want to grow your business to become more successful and profitable, there are a few ways that you can go about achieving that goal.

Though it might be a slow path you can opt for an organic strategy, growing incrementally as you perfect your existing products and business models. You might however choose to grow your business by merging or acquiring others, which is faster, but also typically a much more expensive avenue for growth. Or you might choose to evolve by rethinking your product or business model—or both—from the ground up, which is a process that can lead to rapid expansion and allow you to scale your business very quickly. 

How to Plan Business Innovation Into Your Strategy

Ultimately like everything in business, if you don’t plan for it, it simply won’t happen, we’ll be busy in the day to day selling, delivering the existing product or service and not looking over the horizon at what’s next or where do we see a competitive advantage. So first we need to pause, set aside the time to plan. A simple SWOT can allow the headspace to see what we may need to do, Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats. Ordinarily, the strengths and weaknesses are the internal changes that are needed or need to be exploited and the opportunities or threats are external forces that can drive innovation. This isn’t always true as your strengths or weaknesses can also drive innovative solutions or process improvements that can disrupt a market. If you are a plumbing company a weakness can be your client communication, addressing it could be the innovation that disrupts a sector that’s renowned for poor communication!

 Another great model for planning where innovation might be required is the PESTLE. The Political, Environmental, Social, Technological, Legal and Environment conditions surrounding your sector. Something as simple as a demographic change in the social landscape can drive innovation or legal/legislative change opening up a whole new market opportunity. 

It all comes down to getting in the right mindset and creating the bandwidth to plan. If you need help with your business plan then read more here.

Getting Employee Buy-In for Innovation

Innovation, as a concept, refers to the process that an individual or organization undertakes to conceptualize brand new products, processes, and ideas, or to approach existing products, processes, and ideas in new ways. 

The businesses that do this best have created a culture of continuous improvement and innovation at the heart of what they do. It’s in their DNA, their purpose statement, their “WHY”

Innovation can be exciting, motivational, a great challenge, but only if you’ve got a team that relishes change!

So take a look at your vision, your mission statement, does innovation exist anywhere in those statements, does it exist in your team meetings agendas, your communication, your process or product improvement notice boards. Do you ask for employee ideas, do you challenge your teams, do you measure innovation, is it in their thinking, are they engaged with the purpose? Do you know if they are engaged?

Summary 

Innovation is a vital component for any business, it’s a process, but it needs a plan, you need to want to do it and you need to set aside the time to make it happen, you need the people that will embrace it and you need to lead it. It can be the lifeblood of the business and without it, technology, market conditions and the competition can pass you by. Innovation, therefore, is non-negotiable, the question now is what do you do next. Thoughts without action are just a dream, don’t let your next innovation be another dream. 

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of Chalkhill Blue’s business coaching, please don’t hesitate to contact us, or give our experts a call on 01793 239542.

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