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Business Innovation Process
Finally An Easy To Implement Small Business Innovation Strategy for Entrepreneurs
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to not to worry about the next big business buzz?
First, “they” said you should be on MySpace. So, you created a MySpace account. Now MySpace is dead.
Then there was Facebook.
You were told you needed a fan page. So you created one and built a following of loyal fans.
Then, Facebook changed the rules.
Now all of your fans don’t see all of your messages all the time and you have to pay-to-promote your posts to get real traction.
Naturally you feel busted by all the big business bull…so, do a lot of entrepreneurs.
All of these things, all of these innovations they tell us we need for our businesses, require more time and sometimes even more money.
Resources that a lot of entrepreneurs lack.
So now you have to find a way to fund this innovation, hire someone to implement or find time to do it yourself.
But really all you want to do is run your business and serve your customers right?
Well, you can.
A simple business innovation process may be just the road-map you need to get off the buzz train and into the profit lane.
Stop! Go this way, not that way!
As a business owner one the most frustrating things to hear is that there is just one more thing you should be doing to grow your business.
Let’s face it; you have enough on your plate already.
If you have been in business for any amount of time then you may have heard about the latest business buzz called innovation.
It seems like everyone is talks about it, but no one is really tells you how to do it to grow your business.
I remember when I started my first business the buzz word of the day was TQM (Total Quality Management). I was like what’s up with that? I didn’t even know what it was. It seemed everyone was embracing it. Well, everyone except me that is.
Not only did I not know how to implement it into my business, I didn’t know if it would be right for my business. I thought maybe I should look into since all my clients seemed to be doing it or displaying signs that they were doing it anyway.
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Even some of my national competitors were throwing up TQM signs, but to tell you the truth I didn’t even know what it was. I was clueless.
Have you ever felt that way?
I did and I felt so low.
So, I did what most entrepreneurs do, I ignored it.
One day I called on a prospect and he asked whether or not any of my project managers were TQM certified. I said, like most entrepreneurs would say, “not yet.”
As soon as those two words spewed from my mouth, I knew I had to get working on it. So, I did.
Although I did not really have any extra time to research and implement TQM into my business, I knew that if I didn’t in time I’d be out of business.
I absolutely could not afford to lose any type of market share to my competitors. I had two little children at the time and my husband had recently quit his job to join me full time in the business.
Everything was at stake.
The Crash Course That Will Save You
Back in those days the internet was not as rich in information as it is today. I had to use the traditional methods of research which of course I expected to eat up much of my time, but actually it didn’t. I contacted the local Chamber of Commerce and they provided me with a wealth of information on TQM. The even gave me a few suggestions on how to implement a program in my business.
Now, armed with that information I decided to find someone to certify my employees in TQM. I let my fingers do the walking and used the Yellow Pages. I found a former General Motor‘s employee who offered TQM training classes in the area and gave him buzz.
After a long meeting at Dunkin Donuts, there was no Starbucks in Mid-Michigan at that time, I hired him to train my employees. Not only did he train my employees, he also introduced me to some of his connections who later would hire me to provide their facilities with skilled and certified workers.
Just by adding “one more thing” to my business increased our revenue by 100% in the first 12 months. The investment in time and a little money was well worth.
Take the Wheel, Steer Your Future
You are probably wondering if you could have a similar experience. Well, I’ll tell you like I tell most of my clients: you’ll never know if you don’t try.
A business innovation process is a way businesses gain market share by bringing forth new products, solutions and experiences to their target market in new and different ways.
Here is a 5 step Business Innovation Process to help move your business forward faster:
Step One: Define the Outcome
It might sounds strange to put the cart before the wheel however you must hold the innovation in your hand in order to grasp the process.
What is the solution your target seeks? My target at the time wanted QM certified employees – fast.
Now, what’s yours?
Step Two: Define how your product, solution or experience is different from the one they are using right now.
What makes you unique, better or different?
If your offer is not new, unique, vastly better or different you are not innovative. Go back to Step One.
Maybe there is no solution to the problem your customer seeks. Perhaps your solution is the only answer. An only answer innovation example is something like a cure for cancer.
My answer for my business at the time was that my TQM certified employees would display their certifications on their work clothes and jackets. They’d look certified. They’d look differently than my competitor’s employees and we even trained them to be different. They were special because they were certified. Our innovative offer was perceived as high value delivered fast. My clients loved it and they thanked me by paying me handsomely for it.
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Step Three: Make choosing you easy
Is it easy for customers to choose and use your product, service or experience? People do not want to take a lot of steps to try something new unless it is vastly popular like an iPhone. If your product or solution has a crowd craving like a finger licking good bucket of fried KFC then people will drive for hours to buy it, if not you will have to make it easy for them to switch.
Think about firms like MCI when they started to erode the market share from AT&T. MCI took care of all the switching for you and you should do that for your customers too.
If you want customers to buy into your innovation fast go beyond what your competitor is doing stay open late, open early, and/or offer free delivery. I hope you can see the picture clearly.
Step Four: Be Visible
Do your customers know you exist?
If you are not everywhere your target market is then they can’t buy from you. Heck, you aren’t even being considered.
Are they on Facebook?
Do they go to conventions?
Are they home watching TV all day?
Where are they?
Go where they are.
Bring your innovation and tell them about it.
Step Five: Re-engineer
Now that you got innovation down to a science, innovate some more.
Improve your innovation because if you don’t your competitors will.
One of life’s comforts is to wait and let the other guy take the risk, innovation is not about waiting. It’s about creating something remarkable and selling it to your market. As an entrepreneur you are totally free to do things your way but before you get too comfortable, think about the possibilities. What would innovation do for you and your business? What would that mean to your family and your lifestyle?
Stick around for more innovation and branding success strategies. After all entrepreneurship is the gateway to financial freedom.