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How to sow the seeds of innovation into your business

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When I first joined Barron McCann over 20 years ago, I brought with me a desire to grow the business in retail and that is precisely what I have done. 

Now well established in this sector, the business delivers its core services to a wealth of business partners, including government departments, IT consultants and manufacturers, software and infrastructure providers and some large international retailers.

Following a recent management buyout, I am now both the managing director and majority shareholder of the company and I have a vision to expand our product and service offers further, by pre-empting the requirements of our partners, growing our core expertise in complimentary business areas, striving to give our partners an end to end service provided by my team.

Now I appreciate that some of you are not going to be in quite the same position as I am with regards to acquisitions, MBOs and so on, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t take steps to building a company with innovation at the core. 

Innovation is something that I’ve been passionate about for many years and there are many aspects of the business which reflect this. It’s more of an ethos and a way of doing business than a tactical approach and that’s where many people get it wrong.

They think it’s all about whizzy new apps and other technological innovations, but really, it’s about looking ahead, seeing what’s coming and finding ways to manoeuvre yourself into the right position to be able to service your customers future needs that they might not even realise they need at this moment in time.

So how do you do this? Here’s a few ideas that have worked for me.

Diversification is the key to growth

Success in business isn’t always about upwardly innovating, there’s also merit in seeing if you could step sideways too! 

This doesn’t mean you should water down your core specialisms either and become ‘a man of many hats’, moreover, this is about understanding that your customer might need more than you can deliver and finding ways to acquire, partner or associate yourself with other businesses that can, so that you can offer a complete 360 solution to your customers. 

This doesn’t mean parting with cash to buy a business, either; it could just be an agreement to partner with another company to provide whitelabel services to your customers. Often, you will find that your customer wants to buy more from you because they like you and trust you, so it’s very likely to be a win-win situation for everyone.

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