As the business world continues to evolve due to changes in customer demand and advancements in technology, companies are having to adapt and innovate in order to keep up and stay ahead of the market. Businesses that fail to adapt risk being left behind, especially if the competition is reacting quickly and effectively to changing industry demands. What is the importance of being flexible to change? Innovation involves implementing new business practices and changing the way a company works in order to improve services and increase productivity. Innovation may occur as a result of changes that are affecting a particular industry, which are forcing businesses to adapt – for example, amendments to legislation or new customer trends. Whatever is driving the need for change, businesses must adjust to the developing marketplace and come up with new ways of working to put them ahead of the competition and drive the company forward. Not all industries have the same experience with change as others, with some being natural innovators and others sticking to more established methods of working. Identify opportunities Innovation is all about not being afraid to break the mould and do things differently. But to do this, a business must first identify an opportunity that will allow it to revolutionise its sector. This may be the need for a better product or service, or the occurrence of a change that will disrupt the way the industry has previously operated. How is the sector going to be affected by this alteration, and how can the business use this to its advantage? During the planning process, it’s worthwhile to research what other companies and other industries have done and look at ideas that they have implemented. This will give an indication as to what works and what doesn’t and will help to assess how others approach the innovation process. This is especially useful if an industry has faced a similar challenge. How did businesses within this sector react, and was there one particular company which took charge of the market? Solutions from other sectors may not be completely perfect for your business, but ideas can be expanded on and adapted to suit needs. It is often the case that ideas are shared and borrowed instead of being brand new. Test the market Once the idea has been decided on, then comes the important testing phase to examine the outcome of the solution when it is implemented. This will likely involve a process of fine-tuning and amending the idea to achieve the most effective result when it’s released into the real world. It’s important to take into account all those who will be impacted – this may include the business itself, the industry and other competitors and also the customer. Even if the solution is to simply amend internal business processes, the change will affect external people such as clients, so undertaking market research and gathering their thoughts will help to highlight any potential issues where they are concerned. Implement your idea For the final stage of implementation, this needs to be carried out by the right team who have the correct expertise and know how to get the best results. An idea may be really strong, but if it doesn’t have the right resources required to put it into practice, it doesn’t have the best chance of succeeding. Looking back at law firms, the innovative businesses were the ones that realised what was needed to better promote themselves, but which also knew that this was perhaps out of their skill set as lawyers. So, instead, they took the logical move to bring in professionals that did have the knowledge. The business world is constantly changing and adapting and for businesses to survive, they must do the same or risk being left behind. The marketplace is as competitive as ever, and businesses need to keep their eyes open for opportunities that can be used to shake up the industry and revolutionise current practices. Increasing productivity and coming up with new and improved ways of achieving results will help to position the company as a market leader, putting it ahead of its competitors. Ed Fletcher is CEO of serious injury and medical negligence law firm Fletchers Solicitors.
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