We hear the word innovation a lot. When I hear it, my mind often jumps to technology or creative businesses or something big. But when I really think about it, there are many simple ways for small businesses to innovate. We can innovate by updating the way that we see things. We can innovate by using new technology to accomplish old jobs. We can also innovate by seeing our business, department or team from a different angle and working that new perspective into your company.
Every week I check out what some of our Small Business Trends experts have to say over at American Express OPEN Forum. And this week innovation has caught my eye – again.
Change can be simple.
In “What Uniforms Can Do for Your Business,” Joel Libava mentions a simple innovation (and marketing strategy) that the window and exterior cleaning company Men in Kilts uses. They wear kilts as uniforms. Joel’s article made me smile. A kilt-wearing window-cleaner up my neighbor’s ladder would also make me smile and cause me to give them a try at least once (as long as they actually clean those windows). What kind of interesting change could you make to improve the face of your business? Just make sure the back end improves with it or that could be a problem.
Change happens whether you like it or not, but the kinds of changes that make a difference to your business don’t just happen.
Change is good for modern business.
In “Change: Learn, Adapt and Evolve or Be Left Behind,” John Mariotti flat-out encourages businesses to improve or get left in the dust. He says, “Change is constant. Change causes problems, and change creates opportunities.” And even though it’s the order of the day, John says, “most people resist change….We are all creatures of habit. We do what we know how to do, the way we always knew how to do it—until that doesn’t work any more.” I’m saying don’t wait. Make smart changes now and start with your thinking. Change is good for modern business.
And it doesn’t have to be difficult. Find some simple changes that you can implement within the week. How do you distribute messages to your team? Maybe that deserves an update. How do you attract new clients? Maybe that deserves an update. The goal is to be more efficient and to save more of your time for closing the sale or delivering the goods or services promised or having fun. So change in order to enhance your bottom line. Just remember: All effective company changes start in some leader’s mind. So, innovate your thinking, because change can be simple.
Change that makes a difference doesn’t just happen.
Is there a reason to wait? Does innovation take forever? In “How Much Time Does Innovation Take?,” Anita Campbell mentions “the practice of hack-a-thons, frequently used by tech companies such as Facebook and Google.” She says, “Hack-a-thons are a slightly different take on Google’s famous “20 percent” culture, where employees are urged to spend 20 percent of their time working on projects that aren’t related to their current duties and may possibly never have real-world applications.”
It’s interesting. I believe that innovation lives in a creative space and shows up in an environment that encourages it. However, innovation can elude a lot of businesses because they lack an atmosphere that promotes effective change.
Anita gives some good advice on how to create this environment inside your small business, including making time for it (because “people can’t innovate on command”) and being selective. Everyone doesn’t need to be on this team, so choose a diverse group of self starters and get creative. Anita lets you know that size is no reason to miss out on innovating.
So, what are your thoughts about change and innovation? And what’s your next move?