How to grow your business through innovation

Want to succeed more often as a small business owner, and take your enterprise to the next level? Consistently innovating and evolving business plans, marketing strategies, product lines, and even entire brand images is key to getting ahead in today’s fast-moving, hugely disruptive business world.

But here’s a trade secret few industry insiders share: While innovation is one of the most widely-utilized buzzwords in business today, it’s also one of the most completely misunderstood. Happily, putting it to work to build and grow a business is also far simpler and less demanding than you think.

Despite all the noise surrounding game-changing new technological advancements and scientific discoveries, they’re far from the only ways to innovate. Innovation is defined as “the introduction of something new.” So while the term “innovation” can refer to major overhauls in vision, it can simply refer to new marketing strategies, new pricing programs, or new ways of positioning business and solutions to better appeal to new or existing markets.

Want to put the power of innovation and disruption to work for your small business? It may help to keep the following examples in mind. As they point out, innovating your way ahead of the competition, ahead of the curve, or out of a seemingly confounding jam is often far quicker and less painful a process than you think when you’re simply willing to rethink your approach to tackling any opportunities of challenge.

Here are a few examples to explore:

  • By stocking products that spoke to local neighborhoods (fresh produce, camping gear, small scale DIY materials), True Value Hardware grew their business and strengthened customer loyalty.
  • To teach kids creativity and innovation a cash-strapped public school system, local Pittsburgh startup the Children’s Innovation Project didn’t attempt to truck in loads of expensive computer workstations, rewrite daily curriculums, or hire an army of instructors. Instead, it supplied existing educators with science and engineering kits.
  • Hyundai auto dealers studied the car-buying market in the Great Recession and discovered shopper cutbacks were caused by the perceived risk surrounding making a major purchase in unpredictable times. Rather than slash pricing, Hyundai dealers slashed risks instead and promoted a no-strings-attached warranty – shoppers could get a full refund if they lost their job within a year of buying.
  • McDonald’s Canada noticed they needed effective ways to connect with customers. Rather than spend millions on print, online, or social media advertising, they opened a YouTube channel where anyone could ask questions about the chain and get a video response.

As you can see, innovation doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, time-consuming, or even all that difficult. The key is to constantly be willing to reconsider, re-imagine, and rethink the value you provide customers. It’s a topic we explored further in the webinar “Leading with Innovation,” where we discussed even more thoughts and ideas for innovating your way to success.