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Where can I find this thing called ‘innovation’? May 17, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Innovation: Not Just for the Big Dogz.
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dirksphoto.jpgInnovation. Innovation. Innovation. Find any business magazine today and their telling you it’s all about innovation. True, like I noted in a recent post (April 23, 2007), innovation is important to business success to one degree or another. Apparently, the Big Dogz are all over this. Got to have it. Need it. Want it…badly.

Small business needs some level of innovation as well. But where does true innovation come from? How is it born? It comes from all sorts of places. For example, innovation (service or product) can come from your employees. But you won’t know it unless you ask them and take their suggestions seriously. Your competitors might be another source. What are they NOT doing that you should be in order to give more value to your customers?

Probably your best source for innovation is your customer base. Who better to tell you what you could do to improve your product or services? I don’t care what small business you’re in, you should be checking with you customers, especially your top customers, and ask them.

You could even make a contest out of it. For example, let’s say you’re a small, regional manufacturer of fishing lures for bass (ok…I’m a fishing nut too!). Why not hold a contest for the most innovative and fish-catching lure design? You could award a series of prizes for the best designs that actually catch fish. And think of all the free publicity you’d have! Outdoor editors would eat this story up!

Or you could bring several top customers to an ‘invitation-only’ dinner event where part of the evening is spent discussing your products/services and how to improve them.

If you have a service business, your innovation might be in how you package and deliver those services to you customers. What if you could deliver your services via internet? Your customers might tell you how to package or bundle your services for more effective use and delivery.

Product or service innovations can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The key is to always be on the look out for those innovations that your customers will desire.

Customers don’t buy product or service innovations just because they are available. You’ll keep your customers coming back for more if you tap into their ideas on improving the products/services you offer and they use.

When was the last time you were asked by a small business owner for your suggestions/ideas on product or service improvements? You haven’t? See, there’s the opportunity.

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