Embracing new ideas and innovation are critical to business growth, as the market and customer demand are constantly shifting. History shows that businesses that adapt and evolve are generally the ones that survive.
But how can small businesses make ideation and innovation a priority? We asked business owners how they come up with new ideas and tap into them. Here’s how they responded:
Taking cues from other industries
As a solo entrepreneur, innovation and creative problem-solving are uniquely challenging due to the fact that I’m, well,… solo. I’ve found that looking outside of my industry (wedding photography) keeps me engaged and helps me evolve. So I make a point to read about business concepts that are completely disconnected from what I do—allowing me to think more creatively about my own business and apply principles in a fresh way. For example, a few years ago I went on a lean-manufacturing kick. What does lean manufacturing have to do with wedding photography? Very little, but I had some big takeaways, such as training my mind to evaluate and eliminate waste and to focus on the value to the customer—and not get caught up in my process and preferences. Understanding lean manufacturing has helped me find valuable ways to enhance my business.
— Sarah Bradshaw, founder, Sarah Bradshaw Photography, Greer, South Carolina
Asking customers for feedback
This might sound a bit old-school for a CEO, but I still dedicate one hour every day to handling customer support. It’s essentially free R&D, and some of my best ideas have sprouted from conversations with customers—the people using our platform all the time. They see things from a very different vantage point than I do, so their feedback is priceless. These discussions keep me connected to the real issues our customers face and always give me ideas for new features and other enhancements to our platform.
—Bryan Clayton, CEO, GreenPal, Nashville, Tennessee
Soliciting employees’ ideas
Running an online jewelry store isn’t just about sales—it’s about creating unique and memorable experiences for our customers. To achieve this, we’ve made our team’s voices the heartbeat of our business and have stressed that everyone’s ideas are welcomed and valued. Just a few months ago, our social media intern suggested partnering with emerging artists to co-design unique pieces. I loved the boldness of the idea, and we ran with it. That move paid off, and we ended up launching limited edition collections that our customers adored and led to an uptick in sales and a surge of positive feedback. That’s our secret sauce: creating an environment where everyone feels safe to think out loud and try bold new things.
—Erin LaCkore, founder, LaCkore Couture, Flat Rock, North Carolina
Offering continuous learning
We recognize the importance of continuous learning and experimentation to being a forward-thinking, innovative company. Therefore, our team members are given dedicated time to explore emerging technologies and research trends in our industry, finance. This has led to the implementation of sentiment analysis tools, providing real-time insights into market sentiment based on social media and news data. Our embrace of advanced analytics has enabled us to offer our readers a more comprehensive view of market trends, setting us apart as a forward-thinking information source.
—Adam Garcia, owner, The Stock Dork, Orlando, Florida
Using AI to be more effective and efficient
We have recently started using artificial intelligence to do our marketing for us. By implementing AI to generate ad copy for our Facebook and videos for our YouTube advertising, we have managed to save a considerable amount of our bottom line and produce low-cost leads for our agents. This has resulted in a high return on investment.
—Tim Connon, founder and CEO, ParamountQuote, Altamont, Tennessee
How does your business innovate and come up with new ideas? Share your insights in the comments section below!Print this article