Keeping Your Small Business Innovative

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

When most people think of innovation, their first thought is of massive technology corporations such as Google or Apple. However, innovation is integral to the success of every firm no matter its size or industry. Besides technological inventions, innovative business behaviour comprises of a wide range of practices, such as operational optimizations, that can take creative ideas and turn them into incredible innovations.

How to Stay Innovative

In business, complacency is your worst enemy. The biggest threat of overwhelming success is the temptation it gives companies to linger. Successful companies that have achieved longevity at the top of their industry are always trying to predict revolutionary innovations, no matter how well they are currently doing. As a small business owner, a few good questions to ask yourself are:* What new technology could render your firm obsolete?* Who can you develop relationships with that has a knack for reading your industry’s landscape?* What minute changes can you make within your firm today to make it more adaptable tomorrow?

Additionally, you need a company culture that rewards innovation and thus, encourages risk-taking. Establish an environment with a constant feedback loop to generate innovation. This means you must make it very clear to your employees that taking risks is accepted and even encouraged, as long as they learn and grow from their failures.

To motivate your employees to spend time thinking about creative ideas, make it a part of your firm’s evaluation metrics and job descriptions. Most businesses fail to consider innovation when hiring or evaluating an employee. Pay increases and bonuses should be tied to employees’ performance, relating to the formation and implementation of creative ideas.

Benefits of Innovation

Many small business owners believe innovation comes from enormous research and development departments that only large corporations can afford to finance. This erroneous belief prevents the majority of small business owners from effectively recognizing and implementing innovations within their firms. As a result, they fail to identify profitable ideas that could assist their company’s growth and bottom-line. The most recent Canadian Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises from 2014 found that less than 55% of small businesses have implemented any sort of innovation.

While small businesses represent nearly 98% of the total amount of Canadian employer businesses, small firms only account for roughly 27% of all R&D spending. Furthermore, R&D spending by small companies has been consistently sliding from 2011 to 2013, the time period with which this survey covers. As a small business owner, this is an opportunity to set your company apart from the competition by allocating resources to the identification and application of creative ideas.

If your firm is within the construction or transportation sector, then you have the greatest opportunity to benefit from innovation, with only 36% and 31% of companies innovating, respectively. The Canadian industries with the highest levels of innovation are manufacturing at 62%, wholesale trade at 51%, and scientific, professional, and technical services at 45%. In any case, it is prudent for you as a small business owner to take advantage of the lack of innovation among your competition.

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