Big businesses are often seen to achieve visible, world-changing innovations thanks to their size and seemingly unlimited resources. Smaller businesses are innovating too but they may not necessarily recognise it or know how to exploit the ideas they are generating.
Jessica Bent, partner and head of the Technology and Media team at Swindon and Marlborough-based law firm Royds Withy King, provides four tips to help entrepreneurs drive innovation and growth within their businesses.
- Have an internal framework for idea generation
We have seen first-hand how ideas generation can help businesses achieve success, and yet most small companies do not have a specific framework or process in place to capture these ideas. Giving employees a forum in which they can pitch their ideas not only helps to increase employee engagement, but also offers an alternative perspective from those who are at the sharp end of the business. They don’t have to be brand new ideas to be successful. Some of the smartest innovators are just extremely good at adapting existing thinking to suit their particular sector, product or service.
It’s worth asking: How are ideas in your organisation created? Are employees given the time and support to present their ideas which could help improve or grow the business? And are they recognised for their contribution?
- Recognise whether your innovation is proactive or reactive
Is innovation ‘forced’ on you by having to meet the demands of customers? Or do you actively look to make changes to remain competitive? If you are predominantly reactive, consider whether what you are doing for one client or customer might actually be beneficial for another in the longer term and therefore add value to your business overall. If you are proactive, make sure you are balancing new ideas with the demands of meeting genuine client needs.
- Be realistic in the evaluation of ideas
Not all innovation has to change the world. Small improvements in efficiencies can have just as great an impact as developing a new product or service. To achieve return on investment, consider how you evaluate ideas for change and how these are prioritised within the overall development plan of the business. It’s important to recognise that successful innovation needs to encompass the full journey, from identifying problems or customer needs to coming up with ideas to solve or meet them and then delivering solutions which result in a measurable, commercial outcome.
Planning is key to achieving long-term gains. It is better to try and innovate than to do nothing at all.
- Protect your innovation!
Don’t let all the time and effort you’ve spent on innovation go to waste. Get professional and specialist advice at an early stage and explore your options for safeguarding the intellectual property you’ve built up. Even when innovation hasn’t gone to plan, you may still need help protecting your most important assets – and ultimately your reputation.
For information and advice on any issues relating to innovation and protection, please contact Jessica Bent on 01793 847777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured above: Jessica Bent, partner, Royds Withy King