Innovation is a clever-sounding word, but doesn’t have to be complicated in order to be effective.
It’s just a new way of doing something and every successful business owner knows small things can make a massive difference. A lot of industries are fast paced, always moving forward. The only way you can do this is to be at the cutting edge and ready to implement new practices and innovations.
Think to yourself, how can you get an edge? A good place to start is to challenge age-old practices in order to improve your service.
The worst thing you can hear in business is ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’. If that’s the only reason a process is done in a certain way, change it.
We are always looking for efficiencies and questioning leads to improvement. For instance, the way we approach Google Adwords – as a data project, not a creative one – is normal now but was innovative when we started it.
Not every idea has to be an original – it’s fine to bring ideas in from other industries. Checking the processes of the market leaders and copying the ones you like is a good way to improve things. For instance, look at how supermarkets do things if you are in a sales-based environment.
Delivery time slots were something our customers had been asking for and we believed they would give a better service. At the time, we were getting deliveries from a provider who allocated time slots to each delivery, so we integrated with them. This led to greater efficiencies; customers also got updates as to the status of their delivery.
I get inspiration from reading – my twitter feed provides ideas daily for improving processes. And books by online retailers are good, since that’s the business I’m in.
One of the best I ever read is called Delivering Happiness, written by the founder of the American online clothing retailer Zappos. It’s amazing, everyone should read it.
In fact, I gave my staff at cartridgesave.co.uk dedicated time during the working day to make sure they read it. As a result, we’ve seen staff change their outlook and practices, delighting people and improving customer happiness.
Once you’ve got an idea that you think will improve things, measurement is crucial otherwise how will you know if your innovation is an improvement? A culture of measurement in everything you do can even drive innovation.
We run split testing on our website whenever we are looking to change something and this helps us measure which is the most effective way to progress.
Innovation isn’t always about doing something new or different, it’s about bringing in a better way. And the more you do it, the more you empower your staff do it, the more it will become an integrated part of your business culture.