Any invention or creation that is rendered useful to the society is considered as an innovation. Innovations can be simple invention or complex creations. It can be something that people had never heard of, or it could also be a revision or an improved version of an already existing product.
Every business requires innovation in order to keep up with the fierce competition. To meet and exceed the expectations of the customers, a business has to continuously strive for excellence and this includes coming up with innovations that are rendered advantageous to the end users.
Theories of Innovation
There are several theories of innovation and few notable theories among them are:
• Breakthrough innovation. Breakthrough innovation are “out-of-the-box” solutions comprising of technologies and products that are basically new and unique to the market.
• Incremental innovation. The opposite of breakthrough innovation, incremental innovation would refer to the continuation of existing technologies and products that are already out in the market. These are modified innovations that offer better features and more benefits to the users.
• Open source innovation. This theory focuses on the idea that businesses must not rely solely on their resources and knowledge to flourish and instead they must also utilize outward knowledge and use this for their growth and development. This means buying licenses and patents from other companies, and then making new innovations out of these.
• Closed source innovation. The paradigm of this innovation says that there has to be control in terms of ideas, production, marketing, distribution, and financing. To make this possible, every knowledge source must be coming from within the company only.
Importance of Innovation in Business
Innovation is vital to entrepreneurship in order to keep up with your rivals and to maintain your business afloat. If you do not have new ideas, new strategies, and new products to offer your customers, your business will stop growing and your enterprise will be left to stagnate, leaving your people unmotivated and your business will suffer from heavy losses. Below are some of the main reasons why innovation is essential to any business:
1. People change and so will their wants and needs
2. Times change; what was needed yesterday is already considered obsolete today
3. Technology continues to advance
4. Competitors are always finding ways to improve their products, services, and processes
5. Customers always like to purchase what is hot and what is new in the market
What happens if you refuse to innovate? For one thing, less and less people will buy what you have to offer. As a result, your profits will go down. When you have less or no profit, you will not keep your people happy and they will eventually decide to leave, especially the brilliant ones who can always find better offers elsewhere.
How to Become Innovative
Being innovative is a skill, which means that it is something you need to nurture consistently so that you can be good at it. Ideally, you should mold this at a very young age, while you are still in school. However, it is never too late to learn to become innovative. Here are a few steps that will help you achieve this.
1. Find out what your customers need. To do this, you have to go out of your way to get to know them. Talk to your customers and ask them how you can help. You can make use of suggestion boxes that will encourage them to speak up and provide comments and suggestions to help your business improve.
2. Be empathetic and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think like a customer and do what they do. If your customers are small children then try to see the world from their perspective. Find out all the things the kids want and need from the products you are marketing? Ask yourself, if you are a kid, would you buy the product? If the answer is “no,” then find out what you can do to change their minds?
3. Do not limit yourself. Innovation and creativity go well together because each of these characteristics requires you to bring out the best in yourself and develop a “can-do” mentality. You must encourage yourself to think out of the box and not worry about what others might think.
4. Explore. List down all possibilities and go over them several times. Conduct more than a few tests if this helps and make sure you have pinpointed the correct problem. From these tests and assumptions, cross out solutions that are not bound to work and concentrate on those that do, and act on them right away. Seek other people’s opinions especially the front-liners (sales clerks, receptionists, phone operators) and you can even ask your customer’s opinions.