Status quo is the enemy of business growth. In order to grow your business, you need to innovate and improve continuously.
However sometimes, you can get stapled into one spot or stuck in a rut.
Whether you are stuck because of some outside influence like the economy, or let’s face it, sometimes because of an internal influence like you get tired, you do need to recognise when you are in that predicament and shake it off.
If you want to grow your business you need to continuously improve your processes, you need to find new niches that you can service, you need to update your products and services to meet the current day’s needs. Innovation isn’t all about inventing Back To The Future’s hoverboard. Innovation is about improving the current product, service or process just by a fraction so that you are always moving forward; until all these small improvements end up as the hoverboard.
When you are stuck in a rut, I have a great Three Step Process to Innovate.
Step 1 is to ask yourself what irritates or dissatisfies you most about
- Your sales
- Your product
- Your methods
- Your market reach
- Your organisation
- Your equipment or staff
Dissatisfaction is a good thing. It means that you recognise that you can make this thing your are dissatisfied with better, that you can improve it. You just haven’t thought about how yet.
As you answer the question in step 1, ask yourself the question from the other “side”. Ask yourself what your product might be dissatisfied about how you handle it, how your methods or processes might describe the inefficient way you use them, what your staff or equipment may say about your weaknesses.
Those “back to back” questions should give you plenty to think about things you can improve.
Step 2 is to take some of the causes for dissatisfaction identified earlier and ask yourself “Why can’t I….?”
So for example, say you are dissatisfied about how your sales process takes so long from target acquisition to closing the sale. You wish you could pre-qualify your targets so that they’ll jump quicker into a conversation with you about your products. Ask yourself “Why can’t I get directly to the decision-maker?”
Answering that question should give you a big list of ways to improve.
When you answer that question, answer it with a hundred different possibilities. Don’t stop to edit your answers, just keep writing them as they pop into your head. Don’t filter, don’t judge, don’t consider, don’t delete – leave all that for later.
Finally step 3 is where you work on your answers, think about the facts, consider the consequences – and do it!
If you want to read more about continuous innovation, read Paul Sloane’s article on 21 Great Ways to Innovate. Paul is an author and speaker on innovation and lateral thinking and I always enjoy learning from him. Or if you prefer ideas from someone like Richard Branson, here’s an article from Entrepreneur magazine about the way he thinks about innovation.
I’d love to hear from you about how you work continuous improvement into your business. Get over to the website at teikoh.com and send me your comments.
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