Basics of Business

Innovation can result in either phenomenal success or even a less-that-optimal outcome. The key is to be strategic and tactical when approaching and implementing your innovation plan. If your organization has recently embraced innovation into its business strategy and is now experiencing a darkening atmosphere of crisis amongst the employees, negative impacts on company finances and budget, or being led astray from the mission statements of your organization, step back and reassess your situation. How can you develop business strategies and business models that create growth and success with new and improved business value and better working relationships?

Organizational problems? Concerns? Is business just not quite where you would expect? Whether it has been caused by complex mergers and acquisitions or from restructuring and innovation, research will suggest proven techniques that can work for your organization. Every business encounters periods of peaks and periods of struggle. And through each phase, you try to balance the various pieces of information and advice to ensure that you can mitigate the negative effects of change and jump on the potential opportunities.

Conduct an internal review of your business health. Start with a check-up on the financial health of your organization. Then diagnose risks and opportunities by creating a maximum of ten recommendations. Determine a treatment plan to problems with best practice techniques. Finally plot a wellness program through an ongoing review to ensure your organization maintains its fiscal health and overall growth. Get started on the path to greater profitability, achieve a better ordering of priorities, and manage the chaos of the business innovation transition.

When the time has come for your organization to embrace business innovation, some of you will conduct the process with internal resources. Others will question the independence of their internal group or their ability to do a quality job with their existing work schedules. The second group may also prefer to obtain an independent and seasoned second opinion.

Whichever group you are in, the key is to actually do something. Far too many of you have seen paralysis of analysis as the comments begin months later when nothing was done.

Bottom line? – Risks are what really go wrong when you are not looking: stupid things like bounced checks, losing your best customers or best people when you are blindsided.

Business Innovation As a Manager

If anything, this recession has taught us that new business innovation is critical for the survival of the companies we work for. Business innovation is after all what keeps a company from folding. As a manager, you can do a lot to foster new innovations in your company and keep you off the unemployment line. I would like to present a series of five small articles on what you can do as a manager to come up with new ideas and processes to help keep your company profitable.

Business innovation starts with key leadership. By being a good leader for your team, you have to be pasionate about your work, be optimistic and have a positive outlook, don’t let setbacks affect your positive mindset, be a forward thinker and be driven to affect change, surround yourself with only positive people wherever possible, concentrate on a team culture instead of a ‘me’ culture, resolve problems quickly and above all, learn from your mistakes as well as other peoples mistakes. Leaders who a truly great, share their visions with everyone in their company and don’t keep their innovative thinking in the closet.

You also have to be organized as a company. If your companies culture is one of disorganization, you will fail. Performance management in a downturn is very important too. Innovative companies have a very distinctive culture and that reflects in their recruitment process and they also place a huge amount of importance on training and teaching their staff. By doing so, they empower their employees to become innovative thinkers too, to think outside of the box. In a management role, you can play a huge part in this. You can come up with rewards for their thinking and results. This would also play a huge part in fostering a culture of organization.

Business Innovation

Many of my small business clients believe they have to have some earth shattering, life-changing, superbly unique business idea before they can go into business or implement it into their current business operation. But the truth is you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, you simply have to be smart.

I am not talking ‘Einstein’ smart. There are a few ‘genius ideas’ from incredibly intelligent people out there, but more often than not, new businesses and business ideas are just existing business concepts reworked. Getting good business ideas are easy. Simply find an existing business concept or business idea and figure out if you could do it better, easier, cheaper or give a new angle to the concept to make it uniquely yours.

Even this idea is not new. Sam Walton, founder of the hugely successful Wal-Mart discount chain, was continually in search of innovative ideas and adopting them, continually evolving store and supply chain operations. His goal was to better improve the customer experience and to drive out system inefficiencies and padded costs, to deliver low prices everyday.

After attending an IBM demonstration, Sam could see how this innovation could impact his business, and hired the brightest guy in the room. Sam then set him the task of adapting database concepts to assist in the support of his large-scale operation. This extensive database has also evolved over time and is now at the heart of the Wal-Mart operation.

Many businesses have adapted the hugely successful airline frequent flyer loyalty program to their business to encourage customer loyalty and to boost sales. I have seen this idea successfully used by booksellers, bakers, coffee houses, shoe stores and hairdressers.

I also am continually on the look out for innovation, wherever I may find it. Every time I go shopping or use a service and I find some new business concept, I make myself run through the mental exercise of examining how the innovation could be used or reworked to the benefit of my my current business, or even as a concept for my next business venture. Of course many just don’t fit, but I don’t discard the idea. I write it down and keep it in a card file for future reference.

Why? Because the world evolves, technology advances, trends and social mores are forever changing. What might not be right today, may be perfect tomorrow. I have even reviewed my business innovation ideas and read two ideas, one after the other and merged them. Those two business ideas combined allowed me to deliver to my customers a day faster, at a reduced cost with fewer resources involved. The result – happy customers, happy employees, reduced costs and a better bottom line.

This simple practice can be readily adopted by entrepreneurs everywhere. It is simple, easy and free. It is a practice that can take your business from good to great and help you drive explosive results for your small business. I highly recommend it.

Karen L. Paiyo is an Australian Small Business Counsellor, supporting and nurturing the spirit of entrepreneurship in the Asia Pacific Region. Karen empowers small business owners by transferring to them the skills and expertise needed to help them take their business ideas from creative concept to profitable reality, faster and with less risk.

Business Innovation

When it comes to increasing business innovation, every company must first look inside their organization and examine what it does effectively and successfully. They must also look at those things which are in need of improvement. This could be within their general business model or within their products and services.

The best way to determine the areas in which a company needs to grow and improve is to compare them to similar companies in the same area of expertise. This also includes companies that are similar in size and that offer the same types of services or products. By comparing a company in need of innovation to other companies, one can quickly begin to see what other businesses do more successfully and begin to learn how they can, in turn, be more innovative to produce better results.

Learning from the successes and downfalls of other companies is by far one of the most simplistic manners in which a company can go about increasing their own business innovation. This method of achievement is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways in which a company can truly acquire high levels of business success. This should never be confused with copying another company; it is simply a way of looking at something from another point of view.

Companies that choose not to be innovative and choose not to set themselves above their competition, are those companies that never succeed past the first few years. They generally have to close their doors due to a lack of revenue and success because they are unable to change or adapt to their environment and customer requirements.

One way an organization can successfully achieve feedback that can be used to move to a higher level of success is to actually speak directly to their clients. This might sound obvious, but is often overlooked. Most times, a business owner is so wrapped up in their own mind, they have trouble seeing the big picture or hearing things that may not be pleasant. Using test groups of individuals, a company can obtain feedback about their products and services so that they can begin to make improvements or changes that can positively affect their business on all levels.

Companies that fail to heed to the requests of their clients and companies that fail to truly listen to their clients’ needs are those companies that are destined to fail. The old saying that the “customer is always right” has never been more true than it is in this day and age.

If you keep these simple facts and ideas in mind when considering the current condition of your company, you will truly begin to see how important it is for you to be innovative and to make smart business decisions that are always moving your company forward and into the future successfully.

Using Business Innovation

Introducing a new product/service which customers are not yet familiar with, either by pioneering a novel technology or changing the quality of an existing good, could ensure a business a high market share. This is because it is considered an early mover. Companies that employ this strategy are also able to charge high prices in the short term for their products and services, as they recover their capital investment before competitors enter the market.

Organizational restructuring often involves an improvement in internal processes. Changing the way things are done within an organization, could bring about dramatic reductions in costs. New ideas in this form, could involve an elimination of non-value adding activities and improving the efficiency of value-adding activities. The same thinking could be extended to service delivery, where companies can improve their customer interaction and satisfaction by remodeling the channels through which their products reach the end-user. In recent times, many organizations are interacting directly with customers using corporate websites and smart phone applications to sell products, gauge customer satisfaction and promote new products.

Customer value is assumed to increase when a product does what it says it will at prices consumers perceive to be a bargain. The innovative business strategy concerns itself with producing goods that meet identified customer needs, at estimated market prices. Most organizations that pay attention to customer value enjoy the loyalty of satisfied customers making repeat purchases. This often ensures capacity utilization, higher productivity, increased market share and profit maximization.

Improving or replacing existing processes or products could have a positive effect on the level of efficiency attained by an organization and the quality of its end product. An efficient production system usually implies that, there is a drastic reduction in wastes and raw materials used. If a new idea improves the quality of products or services an organization offers, it can opt to differentiate its products, thereby creating a niche market from which it could earn abnormally high profits.

Most organizations can innovate; new ideas can always be employed in majority of companies to improve processes, products and services. There has also been a development of specialist firms that are able to provide professional advice, on how to utilize innovative techniques to achieve super profits. These firms could provide long term solutions for companies that need to continually innovate to survive.

Using business innovation to earn super profits could involve any or a combination of organizational restructuring, introduction of a new or improved product/service, paying attention to customer value and changing the way things are done within an organization to achieve higher levels of efficiency and quality. It is advisable for organizations to seek professional advice when employing innovation as a strategy.

Business Innovation Goes Beyond Fear

Business innovation will always be a hot topic today and 50 years into the future. Staying ahead of the flow and therefore the competition helps organizations and individuals to go beyond surviving to thriving. Over at Blogging Innovation, the author, Mitch Ditkoff, provided 50 ways to foster a culture of innovation.

One recurring theme was the removal of Fear. (Way #2) This is a kindred spirit of the “Status Quo” of the human condition not to change. Part of the reason is within our genetic make up. To change requires energy and our bodies are wired for self preservation. Dedicating energy away from our own internal prime directive (fight or flight) is a conscious and continued action. Additionally automatic pilot makes it far easier to get through some of the more monotonous

Another reason is probably due to our own internal talents such as “Self Esteem,” “Role Awareness,” “Self Confidence,” “Personal Accountability” and “Self Direction.” When these specific talents are not high, then making decision to change, to think differently (decide to do something different) will simply not happen because self doubt expressed through negative self talk now creeps in. Of course most people do not truly know their talents and this lack of knowledge potentially inhibits their capacity to being open to innovation.

How many times have we said something like, “We cannot do it that way?” or “We have never done it that way?” or “That just cannot be done!”? These remarks are reflective of self doubt created by Fear. And then what happens? Nothing which is something as indecision is a decision and therefore an action.

Years ago I discovered this acronym for FEAR:

  • False
  • Evidence
  • Appearing
  • Real

Much of what we fear including change and the ability to accept different thoughts is because we have not validated what may happen. Thomas Edison who failed miserably so many times had a good mental thought because he recognized that each mistake was not the best way to solve the problem. John Maxwell in his book, Failing Forward described how mistakes are truly part of that potentially immobilizing fear syndrome.

Business innovation requires leaders from the C Suite to the frontline to let go of fear, to be able to rethink what they are currently doing. The goal is improve organizational and individual performance. What this looks like is different for each firm and person. However without innovation, mankind might still be living in caves instead of walking on the moon.

Start At The Intersection of Customer Needs and Company Capability

If you want to see innovation happening in real time, then you have to look in the private sector and the fast-moving companies that are making it happen in their respective industries. How do you think I know this? You see, before I retired I was a franchisor founder. We created a whole new industry, and we changed the status quo of the way things were done previously. We did this by finding out what the customers needed, what we were capable of, and then determined if we could make a profit solving their problems. When we could, we explained this to the customer and we innovated as needed.

Now then, I would submit to you that business innovation actually starts at the intersection of the customer’s needs and your company’s capability. In this case you are nothing more than a super sales team solving problems in the marketplace using non-conventional wisdom, creativity, and a can-do attitude. In other words, you will find a way to solve their problem, deliver that solution, and do as much innovation as needed to make it all happen.

Let me give you a for instance. Our company was in the cleaning of fleets of vehicles, but one time CSX railway asked us to clean some coal railcars which were made of aluminum, and they were 50 years old, and probably hadn’t been cleaned and 20 years. They wanted them clean for one of their best customers, but they didn’t know how to get that done. Since we knew a little bit about cleaning aluminum from the aviation and aircraft cleaning sector we contacted our vendor of soap products to see if they had something which was inexpensive to use that might work in this process.

It turns out they did have a product, so we got with our chemist and added some other components to it. Then we modified our equipment with dual-lance wands, and extra tanks for the soap solution and the deionized water rinse. We also created a new high-volume reclaim system and connected it to giant slip and slides to collect the water and funnel it to a collection point. We simply made it work using a little creativity and innovation. From there, the word got out and we were lined up with other railcars to clean and opened up an entirely new market for our company.

You can do the same thing in your business regardless of industry sector, if you will merely stop and think in the same way. Ask your customer what they need, use your expertise, borrow information and ideas from other industries, and put it all together with new procedures to make it work. If you’re looking for business innovation, these are the types of places you will find it happening. Please consider all this and think on it.

Basics of Business Innovation

For most companies to grow, they must incorporate innovation into their business strategies. And as corporations innovate, they will need to accommodate for the resulting growth. The success of business innovation is seen with how organizations approach it and ultimately how it is managed.

Innovation can result in either phenomenal success or even a less-that-optimal outcome. The key is to be strategic and tactical when approaching and implementing your innovation plan. If your organization has recently embraced innovation into its business strategy and is now experiencing a darkening atmosphere of crisis amongst the employees, negative impacts on company finances and budget, or being led astray from the mission statements of your organization, step back and reassess your situation. How can you develop business strategies and business models that create growth and success with new and improved business value and better working relationships?

Organizational problems? Concerns? Is business just not quite where you would expect? Whether it has been caused by complex mergers and acquisitions or from restructuring and innovation, research will suggest proven techniques that can work for your organization. Every business encounters periods of peaks and periods of struggle. And through each phase, you try to balance the various pieces of information and advice to ensure that you can mitigate the negative effects of change and jump on the potential opportunities.

Conduct an internal review of your business health. Start with a check-up on the financial health of your organization. Then diagnose risks and opportunities by creating a maximum of ten recommendations. Determine a treatment plan to problems with best practice techniques. Finally plot a wellness program through an ongoing review to ensure your organization maintains its fiscal health and overall growth. Get started on the path to greater profitability, achieve a better ordering of priorities, and manage the chaos of the business innovation transition.

When the time has come for your organization to embrace business innovation, some of you will conduct the process with internal resources. Others will question the independence of their internal group or their ability to do a quality job with their existing work schedules. The second group may also prefer to obtain an independent and seasoned second opinion.

Whichever group you are in, the key is to actually do something. Far too many of you have seen paralysis of analysis as the comments begin months later when nothing was done.

Bottom line? – Risks are what really go wrong when you are not looking: stupid things like bounced checks, losing your best customers or best people when you are blindsided.

You need a perspective of business under the microscope and to have lived to tell the tale. After analyzing and helping over 200 companies, I have learned one key point:”What You Don’t Know About Your Business Can Cost You Your Business.”

From the author of the newly released book, ‘Stick Out Your Balance Sheet & Cough: Best Practices for Long Term Business Health’. Available on Amazon. So open this book and say Profit.

Small Business Innovation

Innovation in business is not a new concept. In fact, this is something that has been discussed openly for more than a hundred years. An example is the work of George Hormel, who in 1891 built a meat processing plant outside of his small town in Minnesota. No one had heard of ham in a can, and this eventually became Spam, a canned meat product that achieved an eighteen percent share during its first year on the market. Hormel believed in developing distinctive products instead of imitating big competitors.

Innovation is an ongoing mindset that allows you to look at the world different, focusing on what could be instead of simply what is. The big idea behind this is that everyone has great potential, and it is the innovators that explore every possible situation to make sure the outcome of that situation has been allowed to develop in a way that will benefit the most people.

Ideas are important, but simply thinking of great ideas will never be enough. Instead, it is the implementation of these ideas that separates leaders in business from those who will simply follow what is already being accomplished. An idea is a creative thought, whereas innovation as a business concept goes past creative ideas and thinking and moves fully into creating tangible goods and services that will improve the global marketplace. An innovator’s mind never sleeps as they continue on their path to serve people and solve problems, adding value to the lives and experiences of their fellow man.

Being willing to fail, giving up traditional style thinking, pursuing curiosity and imagination, and stepping outside of your comfort zone are all a part of the process involved in business innovation.

Books On Business Innovation

It is amazing just how much the business innovation books of the 80s and 90s with all the buzz words were from today’s business innovation books, all with newly revised buzz words. And don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking anyone, but as a former entrepreneur, I can tell you, I’ve done my share of innovating, invention, and creating to service our customers, clientele, and consumers. It seems everyone is trying to tell us how things have now changes in “The New Paradigm!”

Well, have they, or are we merely being over-hyped by authors, innovation gurus, and creative coaches these days – all trying to keep from being drowned out from the incessant noise of the next new thing! So, what were my favorite books of the 90s on this topic? Well, I did like; “If It Ain’t Broke, Then Break It” as that was certainly a good one, and there are others like this, it’s a business innovation book, it’s not the best but at the time it was.

Then there was “Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers” also quite good, same era, and yet, I kind of enjoy Guy Kawasaki’s books on such topics much more. He always does a nice job rallying the troops and plugging American Innovation. Guy Kawasaki has quite a few decent books to rev up an entrepreneur, and I kind of like his no BS style, of course from his point-of-view, which I don’t completely agree with, at least not all the time, still he’s definitely been at it for a while, going on 3-decades now.

The question is; where are you in your creative and innovative state within your company, and “where would you like to go today?” as Microsoft’s Bill Gates might say? It’s okay to read some of the older innovation books geared towards business if that’s your style, or you might like the new fast paced high-techie type innovation business books, it really depends what you are looking for?

Some entrepreneurs are looking for “how to” guides on innovating from within, others like to get hyped, jazzed, and rev’ed up, more like a positive self-help type book to keep yourself with the glass half filled? Maybe if you tell me more, I might assist in that, as everyone’s mind works a little different. Some work much better than others indeed, but they all seem to process slightly different. You know what I mean?