New technology, processes and products have become critical as many companies struggle to remain competitive against increased competition.

Innovation no longer means being the fastest producer, the first to market, or simply having a distinctive product. In order for innovation to be meaningful, it needs to be balanced with smart growth and financial discipline.

Here are 3 ways to innovative and grow your business.

1. Create a culture of collaboration and innovation

Innovation isn’t just about research and development, and instead should be a part of the fabric of your company. Fostering a culture of innovation means creating collaborative work environments and using new and the latest technologies. Taking advantage of mobile computing, big data analytics, cloud computing, custom software and social business tools are some ways to do this.

There are also many connections between innovation and collaborative work environments. While many people assume that big ideas come from a light bulb moment from one person, innovation is more likely to be produced over time and with a lot of work from many people.

Teams that work well together are more likely to be innovative, leading to a community of people who bounce ideas off each other. Collaboration speeds up the innovation process, since ideas receive instant feedback, criticism and validation- meaning a greater competitive advantage for businesses wanting to deliver something fresh before their competition.

It’s also important that employees feel confident enough to speak up about their ideas since those closest to the problem will often have some of the best ideas about how to solve it. That means allowing people to have the freedom to get it wrong sometimes, with a “let’s give it a go” mentality.

2. Hire people with big ideas

While technology has changed the way that businesses operate around the world, computers can’t yet come up with innovative ideas. These ideas come from people who think outside the box and are constantly looking for better ways to do things.

A company that prioritises innovation will typically display this in every part of their business, from recruitment to development. When it comes to recruiting the best people for the job, it’s a matter of forming relationships with potential employees when you meet them- whether out at a conference, through colleagues or elsewhere.

Keeping in touch with qualified, motivated candidates who have a proven track record of innovation will ensure that they think of you when they are looking to leave their current position, and you can build a talented, innovative team.

When it comes to the interviewing, a few well-chosen questions can help you quickly discern whether a candidate is regularly looking for ways to improve systems and processes.

Asking candidates to describe times when they were particularly innovative, implemented a new strategy or thought outside the box to address a problem in their last role is a good way to get an idea about whether they are right for the role.

3. Make small changes

Very few of us will become the next Facebook, and while innovation can mean a huge breakthrough like a brand new service or product, it can also be a series of incremental changes that improve the way your business operates.

Some small but beneficial changes include:

  • Replacing or improving your business processes in order to increase productivity and efficiency
  • Extending the range or improving the quality of your products or services
  • Adding value to your products in order to differentiate yourself from your competitors
  • Developing a new social media strategy
  • Appealing to a new market.

Committing to innovation will mean looking at your business as a whole, getting your team on board, and coming up with actionable ways to make improvements in as many areas as possible to help your business grow and thrive.

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