How to stay innovative as your business grows

How to stay innovative as your business grows
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Tue 1st May 2018

At the start-up phase, the innovation flows. But what about as you scale your business?

Dan Martin looks at ways entrepreneurs can keep the new ideas coming and stay innovative as their company grows.

Encourage a culture of innovation and collaboration

The best founders recognise that they are not the only ones with the good ideas and encourage a culture of innovation in their business. You should do the same.

Make it clear that employees can contribute directly to the success and growth of the business and make it easy for them to do it. Think about the structure of your company as too many rigid layers can hamper innovation.

Encourage new ideas with regular team brainstorming sessions and away days. Holding a meeting in a different location to the usual workplace can be a great to way to boost internal innovation.

Use online tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Basecamp and Trello to work collaboratively and track projects.

And don't forget your customers as they can also be a source of innovation. Track the social media conversation about your brand and ask questions about what else they'd like to see from your products or services.

Embrace technology

As well as engaging your workspace and customers, using technology across the board is key to successful growth.

Gordon Burcham, founder of G-Force Martial Arts and author of The Business of Martial Arts, said:

"Now more than ever, technology is moving at a phenomenal rate but there are hundreds of businesses that still don't use an online system to track their sales, leads, customers etc.

"However, there are great systems out there that will not only save you time but also make you money, because what a good online system does is act like an employee."

Modern cloud computing services like Google Drive and Amazon Web Services mean you don't have to invest in expensive software upfront. It grows with your business as you're able to buy more computer power when you need it.

Cloud apps also allow you to add solutions beyond what you've initially purchased.

So, for example, you might invest in online accounting software first but then add complementary apps like retail point of sale or customer relationship management apps that connect it all together.

Analytics and measurement is also vital. You should install free services like Google Analytics from day one. But as your business grows and you have more budget, invest in business intelligence tools like Tableau, Zoho and Power BI that let you sift through massive amounts of data and create powerful visualisations.

And don't forget your phone. Smartphones are now so advanced that it's possible for entrepreneurs to run their companies from wherever they are.

Embrace your phone and tablet as vital elements for helping you run an effective business. Sync apps across devices so you and your employees can easily access documents on the move.

Talk to your telecoms provider to ensure you're making the most of all the business solutions that are available.

Be willing to fail

The best entrepreneurs have all failed along the way. Without trying something new, how can you know what will work?

Dhiraj Mukherjee, co-founder of Shazam, the app company that sold to Apple for $400 million, told Tech In Asia:

"Never take no for a final answer; never accept defeat; never give into fear.

"When you do a start-up, everything is stacked against you. You have no money. You have no product. You have no customers. You have no track record. You have no proof of anything you claim. Everything you do is met by resistance, scepticism and rejection. If you give in to it, your career as an entrepreneur will be short and unfulfilled."

It's also something that Praveen Vijh, Eat Natural co-founder, believes. Before launching his successful snack bar brand, the entrepreneur imported rice from India which was sold by supermarket chain Morrisons. But the business didn't work out.

He told The Times:

"It was very important to fail. It teaches you what you're not good at."

While you shouldn't take overly unnecessary risks, trialling new ways of doing things, launching new types of products and expanding to new markets are key factors in scaling up.


Relevant resources

Helpful tools for start-ups experiencing growth

How to grow your small business in simple steps

Can adopting a 'blue ocean strategy' make you more competitive?

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 

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