With technology becoming more affordable and the Internet of Things becoming more than a passing fancy, entrepreneurs have more opportunity to innovate than ever before. Read on for a list of reasons why innovation can become your most powerful business tool.
Five Reasons to Innovate
Innovation is a never-ending process of taking everyday products and activities and infusing them with new ideas, applications, and uses in order to improve the user's life in some way. The main reason that an entrepreneur needs innovation is to improve his or her business processes in order to retain customers and compete in a global economy. Within that main reason, there are a lot of smaller reasons. Here is a look at five of those:
- The Ability to Attract Top Talent: The Millennial generation is entering the workforce in droves. They are well-educated and ready to make their mark. What they're not ready for, however, is being "just an employee" at a traditional business where all the ideas and leadership come from the top. They want work that engages them, gives them a voice and a sense of accomplishment. There are plenty of businesses willing to do this. If you want to attract and retain talent capable of making this journey of innovation with you, your business needs to do this too. Innovation is not only attractive to potential employees, but it is also a solution to the problem of losing top talent to competitors. It's the drive to push forward and create an amazing work environment that today's employees expect and will remain loyal to for years to come.
- Responding to increasing customer expectations: We live in a world of drive-through windows and instant access to any sort of information, product, or service you desire. The notion of there being only one place -- generally located in your town -- to access this information, product, or service went away with the internet. Now, your competition can come from another continent and if you don't find an innovative way to please your customers near and far, someone who will is just a click away. Innovation gives you the opportunity -- and the challenge -- to provide the best customer service possible and, therefore, keep your customers through the long haul.
- Making the Most of Globalization: While globalization is associated with the competitive nature of business, it's also associated with the good of partnering with like minds and with investors who are looking for innovative entrepreneurs to take a chance with. The connectivity of technology has provided an increase in productive potential and new opportunities for global trade and investment. You are now able to create an internet-based business that builds scale through lean methodologies and creates more value while using fewer resources. You can obtain private funding for your venture from anyone in the world who sees your vision and wishes to invest in it, with less red-tape and compliance factors than ever before.
- Technological Advancement = New Opportunities: What the Internet of Things has brought to the table is entirely new industries based on the ability to connect data to devices. Entire companies have been created for this purpose, and existing companies are enjoying the additional revenue streams that are provided by such opportunities.
- Innovation = Problem Solving: Maybe you need to find a way to deliver your products more efficiently. Maybe your customers are clamoring for a better version of a product or service you already provide. Maybe you're looking to increase your revenue while decreasing your costs. All of these problems can be solved through innovation. Much of innovation is born from defining what the problem is and exploring the ways to remove the problem. For example, when Steve Jobs created the iPod, the problem he was addressing was how to store all of his music in one place. Because he was unable to find a disk drive capable of storing his musical library, he found a manufacturer who could. Because of this, he is often credited with revitalizing Apple.
Your Next Steps
If innovation is a never-ending process, how do you know where -- and how -- to begin? Here is a look at the process in steps.
- Your idea: This is where innovation starts. Perhaps, like Steve Jobs, you experience an issue in your day-to-day life that could be made simpler. Perhaps your idea is born from an unsatisfactory review from a customer. Whatever the reason for the idea, the thread with which you begin to put together a solution depends on transforming that thought into action.
- The solution: How are you going to solve the issue? Does a solution already exist that could be improved upon? Do you have the resources to develop a solution on your own? Are you able to partner with another company or with an investor to move your idea forward?
- The transformation: This is where your idea comes to fruition and transforms a business or even an industry.
Remember that innovations don't usually happen overnight. Sometimes, they take years or even decades. When innovation is on the scene, though, there is little that can stop it beyond the inability to look at it as a continuous process.
Consider, for example, the Singapore-based ride-hailing company Grab. Grab began in 2012 asking several questions regarding why hailing a ride was so difficult for customers and why the working conditions for drivers were so bad. From those questions came ideas. From ideas came solutions.
Today, Grab is Southeast Asia's largest mobile technology company, connecting riders with drivers and customers with other services and products provided by regional merchants and businesses. The company defines the problem they sought to address through innovation as access inequality, outdated infrastructure, and income disparity. Through innovation, they transformed a region.
Innovation is the process that can take your business from a great idea to a transformation. Learn the entrepreneurship skills for successful business in 2020 at Asia's largest experiential conference, Corporate Innovation Summit 2020.