image of a team meeting at a desk - before covid social distancing! An entrepreneur and a staff member shaking hands

Are you an entrepreneur looking to drive innovation in your business? Perhaps you’re desperately seeking new ideas or approaches, but you’re not quite sure where to look for inspiration.

Today I’m going to show you how finding help with business innovation might be simpler (and closer to home) than you think.

What is Business Innovation?

Business innovation is the process of introducing new ideas, products or services to a company to improve its overall success. This can include anything from developing a new product or service, to streamlining your internal processes. Definitions might vary ever so slightly, but one thing’s for certain: business innovation is critical for entrepreneurs looking to stay ahead of the competition and grow their businesses.

It can be tempting to overcomplicate this. Perhaps you’ve found yourself trawling Google for the perfect definition or dedicating your spare time to reading books upon books.

However, it’s actually pretty simple if you boil it right down to the basics: business innovation enables you to seek out new ideas, identify new ways of doing things, offer new services or develop new products.

Where Can We Look for Business Innovation?

Now that we know what business innovation is, how can we achieve it?

Again, don’t be tempted to overcomplicate this. One of the simplest and best ways to drive innovation in your business is to look around and ask those closest to you for their honest opinions.

These people don’t need to be qualified experts. In fact, you can find the inspiration you’re looking for just by chatting with your employees, colleagues, advisors or even your friends and family.

Get comfortable with asking for honest opinions and help people feel comfortable with providing them, too. You might find that those close to you may worry about protecting your feelings, but this sort of feedback is exactly what’s needed to spark new ideas and keep improving.

Start by opening up to those closest to you and say to them: “I’d really appreciate your advice on this. Your honest advice. No bullshit. Is there any way I can perhaps do things better? Is there any new product, or new service I could offer? In other words, is there a better way I could do things? Your honest feedback will really help me to succeed.”

By asking those closest to you for their input, you’ll be able to identify areas where you can improve, develop new products or services, and streamline your business processes. 

And over time, you’ll probably find that they feel really valued by playing a part in your path to success.

Entrepreneurs talking at table

What Type of Feedback Helps Business Innovation?

Those closest to you – say your family, friends or the people you live with – are likely pretty familiar with how you work and how you approach your day. When you’re so deep into working on your own business, sometimes it takes someone on the outside to point out what can be done better.

For example, perhaps you’re working a lot from home and people can pinpoint exactly which tasks or parts of your process cause you the most stress. Or maybe they can give you feedback on things such as packaging or how your branding comes across – what impression do they get when they see your brand as someone outside of the business? Show them your social media feeds or your website and see what initial reactions you get.

Colleagues, employees and advisors can provide more specific feedback by sharing their own expertise and lessons learned from being on a similar journey or having a good understanding of how your business works. As I mentioned in my blog post about the benefits of apprenticeship for entrepreneurs, often we can save ourselves from making common mistakes by listening to and taking advice from those who have been there themselves.

Basically, anyone who has a relationship with you or your business could potentially have valuable insights – including your customers.

Your customers are a highly valuable resource when it comes to business innovation. They can provide honest and in-depth feedback about what they would like to see more of and where you can improve. 

By improving what you offer, they get to benefit too – it’s win-win (which is why they’re often the people most likely to be most comfortable with getting honest).

And the proof is in the numbers – according to SurveyMonkey, 91% of people believe that companies should fuel innovation by listening to buyers and customers, compared to only 31% who think they should hire a team of experts. Can you really afford to ignore your customers when it comes to business innovation?

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just by sending out short surveys or conducting 15-minute feedback interviews, you can easily tap into a goldmine of suggestions with minimal effort.

Business owners collaborating

To Innovate, Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable

At times, opening yourself up to feedback can be a bit uncomfortable and will involve you becoming a little vulnerable, but it’s essential to the success of your business. The value you receive from taking this step will far outweigh any discomfort you might feel when asking for honest feedback. The power of vulnerability is something I speak about a lot, as I truly believe it helps build stronger and more authentic connections both in life and in business. It’s something I love to help entrepreneurs like you get comfortable with on a daily basis.

As an entrepreneur, business innovation is critical for your success. By taking the time to listen to those around you, you can drive innovation in your business and stay ahead of the competition. 

So, lean into those around you and open yourself up to their recommendations. 

Your business really will thank you for it.

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