Business thrives on innovation. It doesn’t need constant innovation, and it’s more of an element in some industries than others. Banking and insurance customers aren’t necessarily looking for something new every time they use a company’s products, but even the more conservative industries must innovate in order to survive. Innovative business leaders are invaluable, and the tips below can help you become one of those leaders.
Get Your Degree
A bachelor’s degree will give you a baseline of knowledge to succeed and innovate in the business world. One of the most valuable aspects of your bachelor’s degree in business is that it teaches you what has gone before; you won’t be reinventing the wheel, thinking that you are doing something new. Search online to find and apply for scholarships for college, which can cover the cost of some or all of your degree.
Ask why about everything. Not necessarily to other people, which they could eventually find tiresome, but always ask yourself, and do ask others some of the time. This will have two effects. It will give you insight into the thinking underlying processes, strategies, products, or services that can steer you away from innovations that do not actually have the desired effects. It can also help with risk management and reveal weaknesses. You may be surprised at how often the answer is simply because it has always been done that way. The information that you gain will give you the foundation to start envisioning change.
Pay Attention to Trends
Just as you need to know why things are the way they are now in order to understand whether and what changes are needed, you also need to know the direction things are going in. There are a couple of interesting wrinkles to paying attention to trends. First, paying attention doesn’t necessarily mean imitating. Closely following trends will help you develop an instinct for what has potential and what is just a flash in the pan. Second, what you need to be looking at to drive your own innovation is not the trends that everyone is talking about now but the ones that aren’t yet on the radar of your competitors.
Know Your Customers
Understanding your customers is another crucial part of successful innovation. Knowing their expectations, their likes, and their dislikes will all help you create change in a direction that they will embrace. Depending on the industry you’re in and the size of your business, this might involve speaking to customers online or in person as well as analyzing data. Keep in mind, however, that people don’t always know or know how to articulate what they want. Observing behavior will provide additional important clues into what your customers are after.
When you are managing a team or helming an entire company, encouraging open communication is vital to innovation. Enforcing a strictly hierarchical arrangement when it comes to sharing ideas is deadly to transformative change. Employees and managers alike also need to feel free to critique one another’s ideas. You do need to be sure that full credit is given to those who come up with great ideas or you will undo all the good work of that open communication.