Save a Little Time for Big Thinking
Owning a small business can be a beautiful thing. Your awesome employees love working for you, the loyal customers love your products and the intelligent managers are working toward your success. When the whole group achieves this equilibrium, it can be easy to rest on your laurels and enjoy the status quo. However, your competitors might be out there brainstorming big ideas, so you’re better off doing the same thing. If it’s difficult to stop striving for success long enough to plan for more success, you should take a step back. Small business innovation is vital to your company’s survival, and here’s how to encourage it.
Give Employees a Chance
In a quick-paced business environment, the focus is almost always on doing, rarely on thinking. But some big corporations have turned the tables by allowing workers to spend days or even months brainstorming and developing ideas. This approach takes the ïsuggestion boxï to a whole new level. Workers feel empowered to offer ideas in a safe space and often ask difficult questions about how the company is currently running. They may embrace the big-picture ideas that can lead to small business innovation. Company owners have to give workers the time to mull their ideas and then take the next step toward planning.
Provide the Resources
Too often, small business innovation prompts action before the necessary resources are in place. Workers are thrilled their ideas were embraced, but they hit the ground running and work so hard and fast on accomplishing the innovation that they don’t notice there have been no resources allocated for the task. Small business owners have to provide the support needed for innovation in terms of time, money, technology and free rein. If those assets aren’t granted, managers are back where they started, with overextended workers who are struggling simply to get the necessities accomplished day in and day out.
Look to Customers
Customers who are engaged with the company through social media are a great place to get new ideas. They may have suggestions for a new product or ideas for improving a current offering. Small business innovation can spring from those discussions with the help of the employees. They might even be able to bounce ideas off of customers before a single dime is spent on design. Customers won’t be afraid to tell a company that an idea is a bad one, and besides, this type of feedback can be gathered in a short period of time. This allows more man hours to be spent on thinking about applying the customers’ suggestions.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Employees with great ideas might be afraid to suggest them because they are worried the innovations might not work out. In order to foster small business innovation, owners have to let workers know it is all right to present an idea, and it may or may not lead to action. If it does lead to action, it can be acceptable if the idea ultimately fails. There was still an opportunity to learn something new. Plus, one of the benefits of small business is that it has the option to pull the plug quickly on something that is not working or to make changes without getting approval from the board of directors. Owners must let their employees know that failure is an option, but that it shouldn’t be for naught. A redirect can result quickly from an idea that needs improvement. Again, managers have to allow employees time to figure out what went wrong and how to make it better. They should also be able to examine what the company has done in the past in terms of small business innovation to see what the outcomes of previous efforts have been. There is no use reinventing the wheel if the wheel didn’t sell the first time the company tried it. But maybe the wheel can be tweaked a bit.
Small businesses employees often are working hard with their heads down so they get little time to think. By allowing them a chance to ponder the company’s next big thing, business owners might just find the spark of an interesting idea. Throw on a little money and time to fuel the fire, and there is no telling what types of innovation might make a big flame for the company.
In addition to learning how to make time for small business innovation, you can learn how to make solid hiring decisions and improve your companies using the resources at Mighty Recruiter as a guide.