How to Encourage Innovation in Your Small Business

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Innovation has always been important in the business world, but we’re really at a time where success is about a race toward the newest products and ideas. With technology, it’s possible for even the smallest of businesses to be competitive with much larger organizations, though, and that’s something that’s relatively new.

When small businesses fully embrace the idea of innovation, it puts them on par with their significantly bigger competitors.

The following are realistic ways that even small, traditional businesses with limited resources can embrace innovation and leverage it.

Work with Professionals

There are organizations like SIT, which stands for Systematic Inventive Thinking, which can come in and work with your business leaders and your employees to develop the culture and organizational shifts required to lead the way in terms of innovation.

This may require a little investment in the beginning but ultimately tends to be pretty successful for businesses that go this route because they can put in place tried and true principles and approaches that facilitate innovation.

Use Your Size To Your Advantage

While it might seem like big organizations have all the advantages when it comes to innovation, this can be the opposite. Yes, they might have more financial resources, but there are also more channels and bureaucracy that ideas have to flow through before anything can happen.

It can take months for a single idea to receive approval, whereas small businesses have agility and flexibility that they should use to their advantage by being fast and making rapid but informed decisions.

Create an Innovation Team

If you have a small business of just a few people, this tip isn’t relevant to you, but for larger small business and mid-sized organizations, sometimes it can be advantageous to create a team dedicated to experimentation and innovation.

They can feel free to look at new ways of doing things in an environment that make it safe to fail. The rest of the business can continue with what they know is working to keep cash flow moving along smoothly and avoid having the entire business go down because of an idea that didn’t work.

This doesn’t mean that everyone isn’t involved in innovation, because collaboration often leads to the best ideas, however.

Integrate New Ideas With Employee Performance

A lot of employees don’t feel a lot of motivation when it comes to introducing new ideas. In fact, they might feel as if their ideas aren’t appreciated or listened to. If you’re a small business that wants to be more innovative, you have to counteract this. It needs to go beyond simply telling your employees you appreciate new ideas.

Instead, you should try to incorporate the introduction of new ideas as part of their performance reviews. Recognize and reward thinking outside of the norms, and show employees that a culture of innovation isn’t just something you talk about—it’s something you want to see in action in your small business.  

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