Small Business Advice | Developing Innovation for Sustained Organic Growth

As a passionate designer and innovator for twenty years, my approach to innovation has always been to create big ideas with a global significance. More importantly it has been about challenging my own abilities, learning through self-discovery, breaking through boundaries, nurturing talent and inspiring others to exceed their expectations.

However, the path that I have taken over the years has had its challenges! Over the years I have found that, in order to create organic growth, competitive advantage and increase shareholder value, innovation has to be at the heart of a business’ strategy and culture. In addition, organisations that develop a culture of innovation tend to be more profitable, have a positive workplace culture, less absenteeism and higher employee retention.

Being a human-computer interaction designer, innovation is core to my business. During the past twenty years I have gained recognition for my work as a designer and innovator through awards and exhibitions of my work at high profile venues, including the Design Council and Science Museum. However, whether you have a creative business or not, to be competitive in the market, innovation can significantly accelerate your company’s growth.

One of the best ways to be innovative as a small business is to identify suitable partners and collaborate with other organisations and universities as this can reduce R&D spend as well as time to market. Likewise, don’t be afraid of going outside of the UK to look for these opportunities as businesses abroad are very open to collaborative projects. It will also provide a new market opportunity for expansion. The Technology Strategy Board is another important source to find partners and match funding for collaborative R&D projects.

Here’s some other key tips for developing innovative products for your business:

  • Do your research thoroughly: identify a market need, problem or opportunity, being mindful of what the competition is doing!  Not only does this give you a solid foundation for your good idea, it can be successfully commercialised at a lower cost and more quickly with the research done up front.
  • Work with your customers/prospects: throughout the innovation process as you’ll find that customers’ and prospects’ input is invaluable for getting your product right, as well as for you to better gauge how your target market will react when you make your product launch. It also gives you the opportunity to exceed your customer needs and develop customer loyalty from the outset.
  • Get the technology right: Finally ensure that your idea has a long technology roadmap (versions 2.0, 3.0 etc) as this will imbed an innovation culture in the business, create sustained high organic growth and competitive advantage well into the future.

Perhaps you have some of your own ideas? Be great to get your thoughts!

Keith Bound