Innovation and Entrepreneurship
I recently hosted an innovation workshop for more than 100 franchisees and a franchisor of a well-established, successful franchise brand. Attendees included seasoned, smart business builders and operators, but the environment within which they operate has significantly changed.
We considered the role of innovation and entrepreneurship, emerging from this fascinating workshop with three key innovations that will increase their performance with suppliers, help them to develop new customers, and reach new markets. On this week’s The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield, we chatted about the role of innovation in business, and more importantly, how innovation and entrepreneurship are closely linked. Here are four questions to answer, when you’re looking at the role innovation must play in your business:
What is Innovation?
Innovation is not imitation. Innovation is doing something differently within your business, that leads to an increase of value for your customer, or a reduction of your operational costs. Your adoption of that innovation must be a measurable process. Moreover, the role that innovation plays within your business must be something that makes your products, services, or operations, unique and specific to you. The relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship manifests in various ways: across your business; outside your business; or within your business itself.
When to Innovate?
Deciding when to innovate depends quite highly on the lifecycle stage your business is in. No matter when you decide to change things up, the role of innovation must serve to fulfill one specific objective: to improve and increase your customers’ experience of your business and offer a different solution to new problems they are facing. These are the lifecycle stages where the relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship plays a big role:
- Moving from start-up to product phase: At this point, put your ego and product focus aside, and listen to what your customers, and intended market, has to say about what you have to offer. Ask your customers why a product doesn’t work for them, or what they need to solve the problems they now face, that your product does not currently solve. Innovation begins by defining the problem you thought your product could solve.
- Let’s build to deliver: During this phase, the relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship must focus on your systems of delivery. Adopting innovation to create better systems, and further capacitate those systems for future growth, is key. We live in the best era for this, because affordable technology that can help your business grow is easy to access.
- People to accelerate: Now that you’re ready to deliver products, it’s time to get people on board. By using technology, you can ensure that you’re selecting the right type of people for your team and implement innovations that create self-measurement controls. These will ensure that your business’ standards are adhered to, and integrity of performance upheld.
- Create a junction point to ensure customer stickiness: As your business begins to mature, you need to innovate around your products to ensure that you keep your customers well cared for, or to create new opportunities that enable you to enter new markets. Doing this without upsetting your current system of delivery is vital.
Where to find Innovation?
You’ll find opportunities to adopt innovation through action, first. Asking your customers and team what works, and what doesn’t work, for them, is a good starting point. You’ll also find opportunities for innovation in rejection – after all, necessity is the mother of all invention. In larger corporate companies, incremental adoption of innovation is part of the business process, but in medium-sized to small businesses, innovation is the key to growth and survival.
How to Innovate?
When considering what type of role innovation must play within your operations, start with your end goal in mind, but don’t define your game plan. Consider the opinions of trusted third parties and define the problem you’re looking to solve through innovation. Of course, as always, look towards solving your customers’ problems, as you find ways to innovate, and move forward by taking small steps first. No matter how small the step may seem, take it and then analyse what kind of progress you made. Measure the success of it, and then consider taking the next step, or changing your game plan to ensure success. Innovation should become a continuous process within your business, and not a once-off attempt to change.
The relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship plays an important role in growing your business. Let Aurik help you build your business into an asset of value through innovation.