With many industries beginning to become oversaturated, it can be difficult for businesses to overcome the noise. The only way to stand out in today’s marketplace is to become innovative and ready to take on change head-on. (And, innovation is no easy feat.)
So, how can you be a business that takes innovation seriously? The answer has everything to do with the approach you take. Here are the 5 steps you need to take to innovate new products, services, and processes for your business with confidence!
5 Steps Towards Ground-Breaking Business Innovation
As many businesses make new quarterly goals, your business doesn’t want to be the only business that’s left in the dust. No, we aren’t encouraging you to follow every industry trend circulating the internet by fire. But, we will tell you that innovation is the key driver of business growth. And, if your business isn’t taking the time to innovate, another business is.
Where do you begin? Let’s dive into how you can make smart innovation decisions with these 5 easy-to-follow steps.
1. Decide on What Needs to Be Changed
First off, you need to decide what exactly needs to be changed. If you don’t know the basics of what needs to be changed, you won’t get very far in your innovation efforts.
Whether it’s a digital marketing campaign that needs to be changed, an eCommerce advertising strategy in dire need of a revamp, or a certain product feature that needs to be altered, there are many things within your business that may need a little extra TLC (or Tender, Love, and Care).
But, let’s say that you’re set on the way things have always been done in your business. How is that working out for your bottom line? What do the metrics show? Have you shown steady growth year-over-year?
You may be surprised by the data that you find. If you’re genuinely stumped on where to begin, here are some things to analyze to determine what needs to be changed.
- Product or Service Cost
- Digital Marketing Analytics
- Sales Metrics
- Employee Turnover
- NPS Scores
These types of metrics are just scratching the surface on the data points you should already be measuring and looking at in order to continue to improve. By looking at the data, you will have a clearer picture of what products, services, or processes need to be changed within your organization.
So, we will leave you with this one question. “What changes need to be made in your business today, in the next month, quarter, year, or 5 years?”
You may not have an answer to this yet. But, once you do some digging, you will find not just one, but many areas within your business that may need attention.
2. Innovation Requires Engagement in the Design Thinking Process
After you have an idea of what needs to be changed, you need to schedule a design thinking process meeting to go over the “why” behind the proposed change. This discussion may have both positive and negative feedback, so you will want to make sure that you listen and note what everyone in the meeting has to say for future reference.
Business owners will learn about the questions they need to be answering in order to create breakthrough products and services, and team members will find out if there is anything in the idea that needs to be tweaked. It’s a win-win for both sides to discuss the specifics of the change.
To deepen the discussion, you will want to be sure to back up your solutions with metrics, charts, and insights into what other industry competitors are doing. This will bring a sense of credibility to the discussion and will leave everyone in the room feeling educated on why the change needs to happen.
Pro Tip: Give all of the people included in the meeting a say on the change. Allow them to present data and findings to help the company come up with the best decision possible. You will want to loop in operations, finance, marketing, sales, and other departments to make sure that everyone feels heard. The design thinking process meeting shouldn’t just be a one-sided conversation.
3. Ask for Unbiased Feedback from a 3rd Party
Next, you will want to ask for unbiased feedback from a 3rd party source. Sometimes we can get so caught up with our own ideas that we forget to lean on other helpful, knowledgeable individuals that can point out flaws or better alternatives to the innovation plan you have. This can include having a consultant come in to evaluate your business processes or having your customers vote on social media for which new product they want to see in the future.
Of course, you don’t want to spread “top secret” company happenings to a competitor. But if it is allowed, you should consult with outside sources for their opinion on the matter to ensure that your idea and plan are on the right path.
4. Launch the Changes (& Measure the Results)
Once you get a thumbs up from your company and from your 3rd party source, it’s time to launch your initiative. Your initiative can be as simple as launching the change by the end of the month or it may be something that could take as long as six months to a year to complete. Your date to launch depends completely on the complexity of the change.
But for time’s sake, let’s say that today is launch day. You’ve launched the initiative; now what? You need to measure the results.
Be sure to keep track of KPIs to track if your solution is working or not. Take note of all of the things that are going well and… maybe not so well. You can sort your metrics out and label them as your “wins” and “areas for improvement”.
Pro Tip: Give your initiative and adequate amount of time to take off before getting frustrated. With most business efforts, you won’t see real traction until 3-6 months after your launch day. (And, sometimes even longer.)
5. Look for Improvement Opportunities
Lastly, you will want to look at the data and make improvements accordingly. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t meeting the goals you thought you would meet. There is always time to make changes and continue to adapt. You may need to make subtle tweaks to the work you have already done, or you may need to scrap it altogether and start fresh.
Keep in mind that there will always be ebbs and flows in any business, but it is what you decide to do with that information that will make your business successful or not.
Fun Fact: 84% of executives say that innovation is important to their growth strategy.
Make Business Innovation a Priority
By following the steps we listed above, you will be prepared to launch your next business innovation project in no time! Remember, if your business isn’t innovating, your competition is. Only you have the power to make a real change in your business, and it starts today.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start making business innovation a priority.
Are you ready to supercharge your business — for free? Check out some of our amazing eCommerce tools to send your business over the edge!
This was a guest post by Ryan Gould
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations.
Ryan is known for taking complex marketing and business challenges and developing solutions that simplify processes while driving customer outcomes and business value. He also thrives on guiding Elevation teams toward execution of strategies that help companies succeed in new verticals, while staying true to core values and brand integrity.