How to be Innovative? 5 practical strategies to kickstart innovation in your business
Introducing innovation as a practice into your business is a fantastic way to ensure that you're leading the market, and constantly pushing the envelope. But if you want to be innovative, where do you start?
By Todd Bateman and Dr Martin Douglas Hendry
Innovation, where to begin?
As intellectual property specialists, we help innovative businesses change the landscape every day.
Developing an innovation culture within a business helps them best competitors by developing new ways to surprise and delight clients and customers.
Whether it is developing new products or services that solve client problems – or refining how the business operates – embracing innovation is a fantastic way to put a business on the front foot.
#1: Round up the team!
First and foremost, to be innovative in your business you don’t have to take it all on yourself.
Set a meeting with your team and start brainstorming innovative ideas.
Paper has more patience than people, so write down what you currently offer and think about what you can do to improve – taking in all opinions around the table.
Other members of the team will help you identify your blind spots and also help you address the elephants in the room.
Viewing the same objective from a range of different perspectives helps you understand what an innovative solution might look like from each touchpoint within the business.
What’s more, it means that the innovation you’re all aiming for will have everyone’s insight and perhaps more importantly – buy-in! Involving your team in innovation planning helps with a consistent and enthusiastic rollout as everyone feels a part of the new ideas.
Remember, don’t stress if you don’t think of anything in one day! Stick to regular informal sessions and the ideas will flow.
Use this resource from Envato Tuts+ to help you shape and improve your brainstorming sessions.
- Make sure to invite the perspectives of all your team when brainstorming new ideas
- Encourage people to help you address blindspots and elephants in the room
- Involve the team so that they are all invested and buy-in to the new idea from day one
#2: Take Inspiration
Brands across the globe continue to innovate. Take inspiration from them!
Take Apple, for example; as a company they continue to bring out new products every year either improving upon previous models. Or, even more innovatively, they deliver an entirely new product that reshapes a technology category.
Now we know you might not have the resources of Apple, who are able to have a separate team for innovation…
But, by looking at your marketplace in the same way that Apple or Tesla do, you can begin to embrace innovation as the norm, helping you to build up a strong idea of what to focus your energy on.
Above and beyond simply emulating the attitude of a company like Apple...
Looking to adapt things such as their known innovation methods and communication style you can take direct inspiration in a way that can be immediately innovative within your sector.
- Look at innovative businesses and conceptualise how you would operate in your sector in this way
- Use this "no limits" thinking to identify where your time may be best spent
- Look to introduce tried and tested methods and innovation skills from market leaders into your bag of tricks
#3: Reach out to your customers
What is the best way to know exactly what your customers want?
Or, perhaps, by simply asking them!
Listening to your customers is an incredibly valuable tool when it comes to innovation.
If you can create something your customers crave, you will top the market.
Integrating feedback loops from your customers into your product development can be a great way of making sure you are always moving forward.
Focus on email campaigns and social media posts to get the best engagement directly from the source!
Listening to customers' feedback will help you tailor your business to provide supply to the demand.
The key to this is understanding what customers are really saying when they give feedback, as insights may be expressed in a subtle or hidden way.
If your product or service has any weakness your customers will be the ones to highlight this to you, either explicitly or implicitly.
But most importantly, be sure to be actively listening, so you can catch the hint!
- Build feedback loops so that you are consistently updated to your clients' and customers' sentiment
- Be aware that what your clients and customers say may not directly correlate with what they mean
- Gather and thematize comments to identify areas to investigate further
#4: Keeping up with Technology
To keep innovating, keeping up to date with the latest technology is a must.
New technologies are being made available to businesses, and the wider world daily.
When we really think about new technology, they spark the imagination, giving us an idea about how things might be in the future.
Whilst adopting every single new thing carte blanche is probably not the best way to go... Considering and imagining how new technology might improve your products or services, is!
Doing so means that if a new technology offers something truly innovative, you can be one of the first movers.
Considering how VR might soon offer people the opportunity to conduct meetings with each other that go above and beyond a Zoom, this might be something that could innovate our offering in the legal sector.
Remember, it is important to be quick to move, but equally important that the technology you are adopting will result in meaningful improvements to your customer and client experience.
Do not get left behind on old systems and platforms, keep looking for what the next big thing could be - it it may just put you on the front foot.
Don't jump on to each new thing carte blanche! Take the time to focus on the one or two that if invested in could set you apart from the crowd.
- Keep up to date with new technologies as they emerge, and conceptualise how they might improve your goods or services
- Don't jump on to each new thing carte blanche! But take the time to focus on the one or two that if invested in could set you apart from the crowd
- Staying ahead of the curve means that if the innovation is right - you will always be one of the first-movers to shape the next big thing
#5: Monitor the competition
Most likely your market is saturated with competition, either bigger or smaller than you.
Whilst for many, competitors are a source of concern, their success and failures can help inform your own offering.
Look across the scope of your competitors, focus on what they are doing well, listing these will help you adjust your business to move up the market by adopting best practices and baseline performance indicators.
Also, look at their failures! Where competitors are failing is low-hanging fruit for you to steal a march on them. You won’t necessarily have to think of something new to solve the problem they’re having - but rather how you can make it work.
Finally, by looking at competitors, on the whole, you may be able to identify blindspots that the whole sector hasn’t addressed. Here you can turn the sector on its head, by fulfilling an entirely untapped need.
Think about how the Nintendo Wii suddenly made video games accessible for everyone, where before it was very niche – Nintendo made a lot of money from this insight into their competitors!
- View your competitors' success and failures as an instruction manual to how the sector operates
- Look for best and worst practices to get a sense of how a "perfect" operator would work in your sector.
- Consider any untapped needs which could result in an entirely new offering to your market
Bonus: Wrap it in IP
Finally, now that you have ingrained innovation into your business as part of its day-to-day workings and DNA – protecting the innovations that you come up with is also important.
You can do this through various forms of IP, whether it is: registering recognisable brands, protecting your plans and research through copyright and confidentiality, protecting inventions with patents, watertight contracts – or a whole host of other methods.
We’d be more than happy to help you ensure that your big ideas are kept under wraps and push your business in the right direction.
Get in touch by clicking the button below to speak to our team about how we can help you with this.
3, 2, 1, innovate!
You are now officially ready to innovate!
Remember, great ideas can come from anyone, and be grown into world changing solutions. You don’t need to be a multi-millionaire!
What you do have to do is adopt an innovation mindset and integrate innovation methods into your business’ day to day activities.
If you follow the steps above, you will have already made a brilliant head start.
ABOUT VIRTUOSO LEGAL
Virtuoso Legal is a team of intellectual property specialists based in Leeds and London - operating worldwide.
Virtuoso Legal's team of IP experts have successfully tried cases in the IPEC, High Court, Court of Appeals and United Kingdom Supreme Court. In addition, the team assist companies in creating, commercialising and protecting the big ideas that make their business unique.
The firm and its professionals are ranked yearly in legal directories such as the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, cementing their status as a Top 2% law firm in the world.
Virtuoso Legal helps businesses grow and protect their big ideas.
Get in touch with our team today, to talk about how we can help your business grow.
Disclaimer: This Virtuoso Legal article should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own solicitor on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.