Thanks for joining me!
I talk to so many owners and CEOs of small businesses who claim they can’t innovate or that it isn’t something they need to do. This site is a response to the frustration I feel that TV, social media and high profile gurus have created this myth; that innovation is the domain of a few elite business geniuses.
No business would exist if its owners had not innovated at some point.
The smaller the business, the greater the chances that it innovated quite recently. How else did these businesses get set up in the first place?
So are you innovating?
If not, what’s your excuse?
Ever heard yourself say one of these?
- I don’t have the time!
- We just sell services!
- Our products are not scientific or high-tech!
- We’re doing fine, there’s no need for new products!
- I’m not creative, I just run a business!
If one of those sounds like you, can I suggest that you have been brainwashed into believing that is the reason? The fact is you simply haven’t been told how to innovate. It is actually a straightforward business process not that different to any other process.
But if you knew that, the innovation gurus wouldn’t be able to charge huge sums to create innovation magic for you, would they? And it would definitely make a certain television series very boring indeed!
To innovate successfully, you need to be willing to do four rather obvious things:
- Follow a process
- Work hard
- Take risks – but not necessarily large ones
- Invest resources – mostly time.
Successful innovation is process-driven.
There are tried and tested routes for getting to a successful launch. These will vary to fit your business structure and size but essentially they all come down to using techniques to carry out each of these stages:
- Develop an insight into your market
- Identify your customer pains
- Hypothesis about the best way to solve them
- Develop and test prototypes in terms of marketability and production capability
- Get out to market
Successful innovation requires hard work.
When the process is listed as above, it looks quite simple. In truth, each stage requires a time commitment, fairly ruthless self-challenging and, critically, a willingness to put in the effort, not just the time.
You need to be prepared to drive yourself and your team to carry out a demanding cycle of digging deep into problems and solutions and then, if need be, having the guts to stop. This may be either because you have enough proof that things work and can move on – or because you have done enough to realise it won’t work so you need to take a step back and start that part of the process again.
Successful innovation demands a willingness to take risks.
Venture capitalists are often quoted as saying that they regard an acceptable success rate as 10%. Then again, they do tend to invest in the high return, high risk innovations. Even so, innovation is innately risky since it deals with highly uncertain situations.
An innovation process is designed to reduce this risk by narrowing down the uncertainties and preventing you spending too much time and money on things that won’t work.
Successful innovation requires you to invest resources.
Depending on your innovations, there may be minimal costs other than time, or there may be huge capital and R&D outlays. You need to understand before you start your innovation how much time and money you are willing to spend and to be tough with yourselves about stopping once you have spent that without meeting your objectives.
One of the benefits of using a rapid innovation process is that you commit to small, testable steps that do not require you to commit all the resources up front. In that way, you significantly reduce the risks of innovation.
Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.