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How to Encourage Innovation in Your Small Business

small business

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.  

Stop Moving at a Snail’s Pace: Four Tips for Streamlining Your Business

Modern companies move fast.

This rings true from expansion to hiring and beyond: we’re expected to create companies that not only operate on a shoestring budget but also keep up with the demands of modern customers.

Because of this, efficiency is so much more than just a buzzword for today’s businesses. In fact, it’s often the swiftest, most streamlined companies that are able to remain competitive and thrive within their respective industries.

Consider the following four tips to keep your company moving at breakneck speed without hitting any snags along the way. Once you learn how to streamline even the most tedious aspects of your business, you’ll be well on your way to getting more done.

Document Everything

This may seem like a backward tip at a glance, but think about it. If you keep careful documentation of just about every aspect of your business, it becomes exponentially easier to make decisions based on hard proof versus simply guessing.

Whether you’re tracking payments and sales or complaints from customers, having a wealth of information at your fingertips ultimately ensures your business’ organization. For example, documentation is crucial to saving time for any businesses subject to corporate investigations. When you keep up with your internal documentation, the answers to any potential questions or legal snags are all right in front of you.

Clearly Define Your Team’s Roles

Many companies make the mistake of trying to have their employees juggle a bunch of different roles for the sake of “efficiency.” Unfortunately, this often results in certain team members taking on tasks which are beyond their area of expertise.

On the flip side, having clearly defined roles for your team ensures that your employees are doing work which highlights their strengths. Additionally, roles create a sense of individual accountability among your team. If there’s someone who isn’t pulling their weight or is often making mistakes, it’s much easier to detect when you know where specific responsibilities lie.

Run a Tight Ship

When in doubt, it pays to keep your budget tight versus bleeding yourself dry.

Avoiding financial waste, especially regarding marketing, should be a top priority of any business. There’s plenty of marketing snake oil out there which might be tempting; however, taking a data-driven approach to running your company will let you know whether or not a new marketing channel deserves your attention.

By sticking to the previously noted principle of documenting everything, you can justify spending but only when the math is right.

Eliminate Needless Meetings

This tip may go against conventional wisdom for some business owners, but the fact remains that meetings are often notorious for wasting the time of your team. Consider how frequent meetings can interrupt your team’s focus and ultimately result in a decrease in productivity. That’s not to say you can never hold a meeting, but rather think about the value of check-in emails and face-to-face chats every now and then versus hour-long “mastermind sessions” that mean nothing for your bottom line.

Don’t let your business fall behind if you can help it. Instead, do everything in your power to operate the swiftest business possible, focusing on productivity first and foremost.