Innovate or Be Left Behind: How Small Businesses Can Stay Ahead

The business world is tough, especially as new technologies start appearing. Businesses who can’t keep up and innovate will simply be left behind.

As the saying goes, “What to do if a lion chases you? Run faster than the guy next to you.”

It’s a tough and ruthless world, you must innovate or be taken over.

How do you innovate in your small business?

No budget for R&D, can you still innovate?

Most of the time when we think of innovation, we think of big corporations. Corporations have large R&D departments where they can spend millions developing new products. They can try and fail many times.

As a small business, we don’t have these budgets. We also, cannot afford to lose large sums of money. Can we even innovate?

This makes me thinks of a scene from the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. In this scene a small boy is being chased by a hyaena. He realizes that he cannot outrun or fight the hyaena, and so has to quickly come up with a solution. So, he finds a log and holds it above his head, making him look bigger than the hyaena. And this, along with some foot stopping, was enough to ward off the hyaena.

Innovation does not need to be fancy or expensive to be effective. Often small improvements in processes can make a huge difference.

How to make innovation part of your culture?

The first question is to ask what innovation means to you as a leader? Your beliefs will set the tone for the rest of the business and for your company culture.

Once you have established this, understand and communicate your why and your purpose. Your team needs to believe in why you are doing what you do. This will tie them in to your values and foster the innovation.

Creating your culture to encourage and reward innovation is key. Have regular hackathons, idea sessions, and rewarding those who bring new ideas to the table. This will attract innovators to your company and will nurture innovators at your company.

The last step is to imbed learning into your culture. If you are consistently learning, you will automatically start innovating. You’ll start applying what you’ve learned and try to improve what you are doing. A simple way to foster this is to start asking your team, “What did you learn this week?”, at your weekly check ins.

Don’t be left behind in this fast-growing world, start innovating today and create a culture of innovation for your business.

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