There’s little doubt that the businesses that have the most success are also the best at innovation- just look at Apple, which was on the brink of collapse and is now one of most successful companies in the world, or Uber, which only launched in 2010 and has revolutionised and disrupted the transport sector globally.

But when it comes to innovation, Australia is lagging behind countries like the UK and the US and currently ranks 19th on the Global Innovation Scale. Yikes.

There are a number of ways you can innovate and grow your business, and the benefits include increased productivity and better performance, along with high growth rates and happier staff. Becoming an innovator in your business also doesn’t need to be difficult- innovation could mean replacing or improving business processes, developing new products and services, or finding ways to add value to your existing services and differentiating your business from your competitors.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of statistics shows that “innovation-active” businesses generate more jobs and are more productive compared to non-innovation-active businesses.
In fact, the figures show that twice the amount of “innovation-active businesses” had an increase in both the total number of jobs and productivity, compared to their non-innovation-active counterparts

And for those focused on cold hard cash, the same data showed that of the businesses focusing on innovation, 50% more of them had an increase in income from sales and profitability, compared to businesses that were non-innovation-active.

Another key reason to innovate is the changing workplace. As baby boomers retire and millennials take over as both customers and employees, you’ll need to know how to attract and retain the best talent, while speaking to millennial customers. This means knowing where they hang out (online and using social media), how your products and services address their needs, and the type of marketing that works for them.

The good news? Innovation isn’t one-size-fits-all, and businesses of all shapes and sizes can use it to move forward in 2017.

One of the reasons why some companies hesitate to implement a company-wide focus on innovation is because it often requires an upfront investment of money and time before you can see the positive effects.

Some of the ways you can be an innovator in your business while reducing the risks include:

Seeking out professional advice

These include contacts in your business networks, industry professionals, and consultants, and all of these people can give you valuable insight into your market.

Joint ventures

If you share the risk with a partner, you can also benefit from their resources and expertise.

Licensing

For those that don’t want to take a risk on their idea, allowing another company to bear these risks in return for royalties or a fee can be a good choice.

Pain points

Want to be known as the go-to innovator in your business? Focus directly on pain points. Finding solutions to problems that waste time such as long checkout times, a crashing website, teams using different programs, and ineffective meetings, will position you ahead of the competition.

Incremental innovations

One of the best ways to be an innovator in your business is to take on board your customer and employee feedback, network with other businesses, and look for low-cost opportunities for continual innovation.

Technology

It can be easy to be intimidated by technology, after all, the rise in tech has happened relatively quickly (some people using smartphones today can remember getting their first black and white TV).

However, using technology effectively is crucial if you want to be an innovator, with new software greatly improving how you do business and interact with your customers.

Collaboration

The best innovators inspire others to also think creatively, and the best innovation happens through collaboration. That means encouraging diverse viewpoints, seeking out a devil’s advocate, focusing on transparency, and inviting feedback from all team members.

Stay flexible

It’s good to have plans in place, but they also shouldn’t become “the laws” of your business. Innovation should by nature be flexible, so you can try new things, continually evaluate, change direction if something isn’t working, and adjust if necessary.

Question tradition

Have you ever been asked (maybe by a new team member) why a certain process is in place, only to reply “this is just the way it’s done”? Innovation is all about looking for better ways to do things- so if a new process or system can save time or money, or help you connect with your customers, it should be welcomed by the whole team.

To find out more about becoming an innovator in your business, download our complimentary white paper ‘How to be an innovator in your organisation”. Your download includes:

  • What is innovation?
  • What are the ways in which you can innovate?
  • How your business can switch to a business mind-set?

How to be an innovator in your organisation