To stand out from your competitors, you have to be innovative. Being innovative will not only boost your keep you ahead but it will also ensure you develop a refreshed team spirit. Innovativeness is boosted through collaboration with employees of the company and embracing new ideas as they come. It’s a common scenario to find companies investing time and resources to see how they can promote an innovative culture in their businesses.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners their best tips on being innovative in their companies.
#1- Step back, change your setting
As a business owner it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of running a company. But to come up with innovative ideas, you often have to take a step back, change your setting, and look at everything from a 10,000-foot view. I just took my first vacation in something like a year, and it amazed me how creative, innovative answers to problems that had been plaguing us for months just came to me. I’d recommend any business owner to not forget about the value of clearing your head and thinking about things fresh, whether than means taking a beach vacation, or just spending an afternoon out of the office.
Thanks to Scott Marquart, Stringjoy Guitar Strings!
#2- Surround Yourself with Thinkers
There’s nothing more damaging to the potential growth of your business than surrounding yourself with yes-men. Innovation cannot thrive in a culture of I do it better than you. You need people by your side that are not afraid to challenge and test your decisions. There is a fine line between insubordination and constructive criticism, and we are too often afraid of the former to attempt the latter; this is a mistake. At Best Company, we let everyone have a voice in business decisions. Even interns have the opportunity to pitch innovative ideas that can be implemented at our company. We consider each and every one of our employees intelligent and capable of innovation. Because of this, we have made important strides in our industry.
Thanks to Landon Taylor, BestCompany.com!
#3- Embed innovation into your company culture
Employees are open to innovation; they want to experiment and feel challenged. Make the most of this by organizing specific initiatives like hackathons to encourage new ideas. Study organizes regular 24-hour Rockethons where employees across all departments (not just tech!) re-group into small teams to exercise their creative skills by brainstorming ideas, creating prototypes, improving tools, and more. But innovation shouldn’t be limited by company-led initiatives. Employees should be allowed – and encouraged – to periodically take time out of their schedules to work on innovation projects that they are passionate about and explore learning and growth opportunities.
Thanks to Adrian Ridner, Study.com!
#4- Encourage horizontal communication
Brooklyn Outdoor has a company culture based on inclusion of diverse opinions. At Brooklyn Outdoor we encourage horizontal communication and utilize it as a tool for constant innovation. The collaboration of employee ideas and opinions has created a company setting where the team thrives together. Holding weekly team meetings opens up a platform for employees to exchange ideas and know they are valued. This type of company culture meets the basic needs for employees to feel happy in their position and motivates the team to focus on achieving goals together. By treating all employees as equals and giving everyone a seat at the table we are able to synthesize a variety of perspectives and achieve constant innovation.
Thanks to Candice Simons, Brooklyn Outdoor!
#5- Value the lessons
In your failure and apply each lesson towards your new attempt at success. The idea is not to encourage failure but to foster innovation that leads to winning success as rapidly as possible. If you compile the lessons in failures from a small group, you’re sure to have a winning effort that will lead to new ideas.
Thanks to Trinity Manning, OnceLogix!
#6- We use the ‘Yes and…’ rule
Innovation in our company begins with the customer. Keeping our core goal focused on our customers’ success keeps our employees motivated to innovate creative solutions within our HR software. We never tell a customer ‘no, our system can’t do that.’ We use the ‘Yes and…’ rule to keep things creative, collaborative and customer focused. Often companies fall into the trap of letting the broader market or their prospects drive ideas for innovation. (Losing one major deal to a competing product can throw a company into a creative tailspin). We’ve found this defensive approach distracted us from more targeted innovation that can be scaled and create a stronger vertical market. Customer-focused innovation helps solidify existing customer relationships to secure retention and referrals. It also gives our employees a boost of confidence when their ideas are recognized and deepens their connection with the customers they serve.
Thanks to Chris Tanis, BeyondPay!
To stay innovative business owners must stay inspired. Spend 15 minutes at the start of your day reading about the success of those at the top of their game in your industry. Let the time you spend here inspire you to want to be better, do better. Over time, you will begin to value growth and innovation as things to strive for. The best thing you can do here is to carve out time from your busy schedule to brainstorm ideas on how you can play your part in innovating how business is done in your industry. You must learn to value innovation first; only then will you be willing to spend the time you need on being innovative within your own company. Beyond the obvious success that comes from being innovative, innovation also strengthens life meaning and purpose for business owners and entrepreneurs which is important to us.
Thanks to Mazdak Mohammadi, blueberrycloud!
#8- Get back to putting humans first
The innovations that have caught my attention most recently fall into a single category: Companies that take an H2H (human to human) approach – to everything. Marketing, product development, employee engagement, corporate consciousness. It’s the new customer-centric that doesn’t just make the customer the focus and priority, but the success, happiness and wellness of human beings at both ends of the equation employees, customers, and suppliers. If you’re looking for ways to be innovative right now, find a way to get back to putting humans first. It’s what we need in tech right now.
Thanks to Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, Zest.is!
#9- Creating a certain flow at work
From the very beginning, I set an ambitious goal of solving the issues of unbanked people in Africa. I want Humaniq team to be really innovative on everyday basis. My way to being innovative is creating a certain flow at work. Usually, It helps to be productive, but I also found that high concentration, completely engaging in an activity and taking risk provide more innovative solutions. Should you go deeper in the subjects, you find there more opportunities. Flow follows focus and taking risks drives it.
Thanks to Alex Fork, Humaniq!
#10- Pay attention to your hiring process
Hire smart people. Nurture their growth. Listen to them when they talk. This is the key to innovation too. Many are trying to build a better mousetrap from scratch, when the real innovative thing is to improve the mousetrap you have, with the people you have.
Thanks to Taylor Toce, Velo IT Group!
#11- Stay focused and push through failure
Many people often mistake innovation to be all about creativity. In reality, the truth is closer to the famous quote by Thomas Edison: “99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”. If you’re persistent, have the right capabilities and focus on solving an important problem, the innovation will eventually come. The trick is to have the grit and the perseverance to stay focused and continue working hard even when you fail time and again. It is through failure that you learn the fastest. Most people and organizations simply give up too soon. However, as a business leader, just coming up with an innovation is not enough, you still need to build a successful business around the innovation. This can often prove to be even harder than the first part. Fortunately, hard work and focus are of the essence here too. Focus on building a team and a culture that emphasizes these traits and you’re inevitably going to succeed at some point.
Thanks to Jesse Nieminen, Viima!
#12- Take risks
Take risks, that’s the only way you can succeed. Let your imagination run wild. This does not mean that you should make moves without thinking them through first, but it does mean that you can make a move that has a 70% chance of success and a 30% chance of failure. There is never a 100% guarantee for success with anything, so we don’t lose out by implementing a wildly creative idea that may be too wild. Either it succeeds, or it fails, and then that turns into a learning curve. And before every move come up with ten ideas, that way you can sift through the ideas and pick the best one. You will also have what to fall back on if one idea doesn’t work out.
Thanks to Nate Masterson, Maple Holistics!