16 ways to bring innovation into your business

Workplace innovation is fundamental for growing and improving any business. But it doesn’t happen overnight, because coming up with fresh innovation ideas and turning them into successful new products or services rarely happens spontaneously.

However, there are certain steps you can take to help grow your capacity to innovate and use it to drive your business forward. Successful innovation depends upon effective communication and an understanding of the different elements of the innovation process.

Why innovation matters: How innovation can help businesses

The need for innovation is critically important in modern business. It’s all about developing new and improved ways of doing things in your business. By prioritising innovation you can improve efficiency, create more effective processes, and ultimately reduce your cost of doing business.

As such, innovation can help save your business time and money. Innovation is also key for developing a creating your competitive advantage and a culture of innovative thinking and problem-solving in your business.

In a competitive business environment the importance of innovation cannot be overestimated. So, how can you create a culture of innovation in your business and reap the business rewards while avoiding the pitfalls of innovation risks?

Here is a curated list of 16 steps for creating a culture of innovation and introducing innovative business ideas to your business.

How to be innovative in your business in 16 steps

1. Start small

Radical innovation ideas and game-changing inventions are great, but if you’re new to innovation, you may be reluctant to jump in at the deep end. Instead, try focusing your efforts on small, incremental changes that have the potential to improve your existing products, services, or business processes. Begin by examining your business and current offering, and identifying areas where small improvements can make the biggest difference.

2. Think differently

If everyone in your industry is doing the same things the same way, think about how you can go against the grain and offer something unique. Can you offer a service or a business model that isn’t the norm? Gather insights from your customers, suppliers, and industry experts and find an approach that will set you apart and give you a unique value proposition.

3. Know your market

Today’s markets are constantly shifting. Consumer habits are changing, competition is increasing globally, and trends, preferences and opportunities come and go. It’s not easy keeping track of it all, but market research and analysis can be critical to innovation success. Listen to your audience, size up the competition, and continuously look for gaps in the market.

4. Take the initiative

In small businesses, workplace innovation often happens out of necessity, especially when finances are low. While it may not always be possible to divert resources to full-time research and development (R&D) activities, investing in R&D and technology can boost your capacity to innovate. Different types of support may also be available to help you grow.

5. Create the right environment

Chances are you’re stuck behind your desk, screen, or on the phone most of the day busy running your business. Creativity doesn’t exactly flourish in such environments. However hard it may be, it’s important to create the time and the space to allow yourself to think creatively and mull over new ideas.

Designate time away from daily tasks, encourage collaboration and conversation in your business, be open to taking measured risks, and share your successes and failures equally in order to learn and develop.

6: Create dedicated innovation teams

Remember that some employees may have great innovative business ideas, but not be able to communicate them well. It is therefore important to create a team that will encourage and support the sharing of ideas. If you do not have enough resources to create a dedicated team, it can be composed of people from various departments within your company.

7. Reduce your exposure to risk

While the need for innovation in business is often critical for success for small business owners, there are also innovation risks that business owners will want to steer clear of.

After all, innovation involves risk and uncertainty, due to the fact that you may not know if your ideas will actually work and provide returns for your business. How much will it cost you to prototype that new product and how will the market respond to it? These are just some of the risks you may consider when pursuing innovation. However, business insurance can help your business reduce its exposure to risk and can be the difference maker for your business.

8. Introduce an idea-sharing platform

With the importance of innovation a critical factor in business success, business owners can benefit from regularly gathering their employees together to generate and share new business ideas.

You can, for example, create a place where anyone can submit their ideas and comment or vote on those of others. Or you could organise brown-bag lunches to encourage your employees to share their thoughts.

9. Create a screening process for all ideas

When thinking about how to be innovative in your business, consider introducing

an idea screening process so your employees know that their ideas are being considered. This can be done in different ways.

For example, use a cross-functional team consisting of design, research and development, and marketing professionals in the screening process which involves ideas being tested with focus groups. Any design failing to achieve a 70 per cent approval rating from the focus group is eliminated automatically.

10. Employ workplace innovation advocates

Are you in need of innovation in your business? Well, one way to encourage innovation is to create a team to support the innovation and idea-generation process. Asking questions, promoting ideas, and demanding radical change will inspire your innovation advocates to bring about change in your company.

11. Encourage collaborative experimentation

Business owners can encourage collaborative experimentation by employing collaborative experimentation to improve the chance of success on innovation projects. Communicating with stakeholders brings new ideas, corrects problems, addresses market needs, and speeds up the innovation process.

An example of this is when Google made prototypes of products such as Gmail and Google Earth available for existing users, which helped the company learn from user feedback and refine these new products.

12. Communicate with your employees

The benefits of innovation can’t be overestimated. As such, it is important for your employees to ‘buy-in’ to your innovation ideas and learn as much as they can about the development of new products or services. To do this, consider sending company-wide e-newsletters providing updates.

There are also plenty of other internal communication strategies that you can use to engage your team, including informal coffee talks, peer reviews, town hall meetings, workshops, and social events.

Having multiple options for sharing information can increases the likelihood that all employees will find a useful source for information regarding innovation and new ideas in the organisation. This will help decrease uncertainty and negativity while helping staff embrace new ideas.

13. Be specific with your communication

Beyond communicating with your employees, you will also benefit from letting them know how innovation affects them and the positive outcomes it can bring. For example, online learning courses for employees can be tied to specific job skills so each employee can tailor their online learning to meet their nominated objectives.

14. Increase employee participation

Employee participation is at the core of innovation. Your team is a crucial source of new business ideas. But employees should feel involved, heard, and trusted in order to bring innovation forward.

Consider reserving a rotating seat on the executive team for an employee who gets as much say and access to information as other leadership members. This can bring new levels of transparency and new creative perspectives that may have otherwise not been heard. In the same spirit, consider putting all major business decisions to a company-wide vote, including strategic direction and whether or not to take on large new clients.

15. Encourage learning

Another benefit of innovation is that you and your employees are constantly learning and upskilling. Give your team ample opportunity to learn through training and mentorship and celebrate their curiosity and their desire to innovate.

16. Don’t get discouraged

The simple truth is that not every idea will pan out. Research suggests that you need at least 50 ideas to get 10 potential projects, of which only two will actually be successful. So don’t get disheartened.

Once you have some ideas in place, consider each for feasibility, costs, potential risks, and rewards. If your best efforts don’t work out quite as well as you expected, take it as an opportunity to learn and improve on your journey to success.

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At BizCover we have created an easier and faster way to help small business owners purchase their business insurance online and reduce their exposure to risk, while also saving them time and the hassle that is typically associated with purchasing business insurance.

Call BizCover today on 1300 920 873 to find out how we can help you reduce your exposure to risk by purchasing your business insurance in as little as 10 minutes and get back to running your business.

*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2023 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769

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