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Small business innovation - Some basics

smallbusIt would only stand to reason that a smaller, more agile company would be best positioned to create the most ground breaking ideas. Well this isn't necessarily so. Deficient several key ingredients, such as money for R & D, available staff, and a lack of vision that big companies can make happen, small businesses have discovered that their challenge lies in learning how to innovate in spite of, and sometimes because of these facts. A recent study by Erik Hurst and Benjamin Wild Pugsley of the University of Chicago called What do Small Businesses Do? discovered that less than 50 percent of new business startups were born from a “new idea”. Moreover, they learned that most of these new businesses are essentially more of the same, offering an additional coffee shop, bakery or tax service to a marketplace stuffed with these services. Not much innovation, greater competition, and little chance at exponential growth.

So how does a small business get from the morass of just another business to one that is offering new and exciting products and services people are clamoring to try?

4 Tips for creating a culture of innovation in your business!

  • Reward and encourage innovation - Give your staff perks and tangible rewards for identifying and helping to implement new and innovative initiatives. Creating some enthusiasm around finding new and better ways to run your business should benefit them as well.
  • Know what your market wants and needs - Keep your finger on the pulse of latest trends and ideas within your market. Make an effort to not only keep up, but be on the leading edge, which is only doable if you are watching and listening!
  • Be sure to connect with your existing customers - Listening and taking into serious thought what your customers say about not only your business and products, but about what their wish list would contain is extremely important in helping to recognize a direction you might want to explore. Keep the conversation focused on the customer's problems, and make use of those to help forge solutions!
  • Be willing to try new things! - Don't be afraid to be innovative. A great demonstration of a company ready to fill a need is Behance.net, a Web-based platform for creative works, where artists can show their work regardless of their resumes, hoping to turn more ideas into reality.