How to stay innovative at every stage of business growth
5 min read
20 March 2018
When you’re starting out in business, you are unhindered by the legacy of previous systems and processes. Working from a blank piece of paper, you are free to be agile and creative to push forward your innovative ideas.
As your business and your team grows it is easy to fall into a rigid mindset of “that’s how we do things,” and the culture of innovative thinking that kickstarted your success can disappear. So in today’s fast-paced business world, how can you maintain that innovative edge?
We have been talking to experts in business culture and innovation to show how to effectively innovate even as your company steps up to the next level.
Create a dedicated innovation team
According to Chris Dyer, author of The Power of Company Culture: “How did the most innovative companies in the world get to that point? Truly, they just… started. Their new idea, championed by a few people, was, at that moment, the most innovative. It remained to be seen whether their innovation would catch on. When it did, they faced their biggest challenge: they had to do it again.
“When we start a company, everything we do is, by default, innovative. When companies mature and find success, what was once novel becomes the status quo. We hire more people and secure more clients that demand a steady supply of whatever we are selling. Then, employees want a job, clients want their stuff, and any investors want a healthy return.
“To stay innovative, assign this job to another group. Charge them with finding a way to put your current offering out of business! Ask them to find the next big thing, separate from the pressure of the status quo. Then, and only then, can you repeat and perpetuate innovation.”
Foster a day one mind-set in your business
“Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon summed it up well when announcing the Amazon results in 2017, he said ‘Amazon is a day one business’,” Royston Guest, CEO of Pti-Worldwide and founder of the Built to Grow Mastermind programme, explained.
“Since Amazon started in 1994 that’s an intriguing statement he made. However, what followed demonstrates the point that staying innovative at every stage of business growth is fundamental. Bezos said; ‘Amazon will always be a day one business because day two is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it’s always day one.’
“Innovative thinking is critical to your success as a business leader, business owner and entrepreneur. The day one mind-set where every day you press the re set button, where the customer is at the epicentre of your thinking and decision making, where you’re constantly thinking about your relevance as a leader and business will ensure you retain your edge in differentiating you and your business from the competition.”
Fix your priorities to stay relevant
Natalie Turner, author of Yes, You Can Innovate, suggested: “Managing cash flow, hiring new employees, delivering top quality customer service and sales, sales, sales, these and many other important activities, occupy the minds of small business owners. Innovate? That is number 50 on the To Do list, when headspace allows. Yet innovation is the only way to ensure you are relevant for every stage of your company’s growth.
“Get curious and identify where there could be an opportunity to do something new for the immediate (now), the short (next month) and the long term (the end of the year). Keep these three opportunities equally top of mind. Also, spark some creative juice and ignite ideas for the opportunities you have identified. Challenge the way that you normally do things.
“Get critical. Stand back and investigate. How feasible do you think they could be? Don’t throw out an idea just because it may be difficult. Be courageous, invest some effort and stay committed – particularly on the harder ideas. Most importantly, ask how you can improve on what you have done.”