How do I innovate?

Allan Johnson of Johnson & Tennent Chartered Accountants
Allan Johnson of Johnson & Tennent Chartered Accountants Janie Kayes

INNOVATION is one of those 'buzz words' that you will often hear in business circles - often used when describing new start-up companies or tech giants like Google and Facebook.

Many small businesses can quickly disregard innovation as something they haven't got time for, since they're too busy simply surviving and running their business. However, I would challenge that and say that innovation isn't what you think it is...and it isn't that far out of reach.

So, what is innovation? It's not always about re-inventing the wheel...we have built a culture of simply asking the question, 'Can we do it better?'

'Better' may be something that someone else currently does, but for us, it's new, and so it's innovation. By taking someone else's idea and giving it your own unique slant, you are able to gain the benefit of your own individuality without making an earth-shattering change.

Here are three simple ways to include innovation into your business:

1. Expect to find ideas everywhere.
It is amazing how simple it is to observe the results achieved by switched-on businesses.  The challenge is to analyse those results and think about how your business can achieve the same results. Typically, how your business achieves those results will be significantly different. For example, you may observe that a fast food retailer offers a bundled product (burgers, coke and fries), and then apply that same practice in your business, bundling complimentary products to boost revenue.

2. Share ideas to see them grow.
I often find that the initial ideas I have are always enhanced after I have shared them with my team and listened to their input. Gaining an additional perspective can produce amazing results, which will be of benefit to your business. Having said that, don't be afraid to share outside your business! Input from other business owners (or anyone with life experience) can be just as beneficial - don't worry about someone copying your idea, because chances are they won't! Thinking about an idea is a lot easier than implementing.

3. Brilliant people innovate brilliantly.
If you surround yourself with brilliant people and give them the freedom to think outside the constraints of established practice, the results can be amazing. For some businesses, finding brilliant people would in itself be an innovation - if you pay peanuts, don't be surprised when you attract monkeys! All joking aside, finding brilliant people is not easy, but in today's competitive business environment, it is very important.

Doing new things in new ways is a great way to keep your team and your business fresh and focused. Innovation does not need to be scary!

Topics:  allan johnson innovation opinion small business

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