5 Simple Ideas to Innovate in Business

How to stay relevant in business and thive through change

Innovation is a word we tend to complicate and lose track of the simple meaning of it. This artical is about how you can do some very simple innovation in your business to stay relevant and thrive, but the operative worrd is ‘Simple’. We are not reinventing the wheel.

While in Airlie beach recently catching up with Darren Foster the founder of Artemis Robotics, I was reminded of a talk he had given to local businesses in Airlie beach a few years back, really stuck with me. Darren spoke about complicating innovation when really “innovation could simply be putting an extra sign out to guide your customer and make their experience with you much easier” that is not a word for word quote but Darren Foster, but it was something to that effect.

Having taken time out to celebrate the people and the adventures of last year, have you ever stopped to think you might just be on the same trajectory as those businesses who closed the doors last year after previous years of success? I have. Here are five simple ideas to stay innovative and thrive this year. Simple ideas to innovate is what I want to share with you in this article so that you can keep the doors open and help your community go strength to strength.

As we all know, when you teach, you learn. Perhaps you are the one who gathers the most ‘take-away’s’ from your teaching sessions. Having designed and facilitated numerous programs for small business owners and entrepreneurs, I realized that as long as you’re still learning, you are still willing to be open to change and understand the evolving nature of your industry not just in your region but also in other parts of the world.

The five most significant leanings I gathered from this year was the following:

1.   Collaboration.T

Where ever there’s collaboration, there’s usually growth. Collaboration with other hubs in regional Australia has been essential. It’s always helpful to remember that we don’t have to do it all by ourselves when we can simply reach out and collaborate.

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up,” Booker T. Washington

Collaboration creates the perfect opportunity for sharing ideas, experiences, and stories to help understand what kind of help you need, and discover that breakthrough idea that will enhance your business as a whole.

2.   Respect.

Respecting yourself and others is more of a essential in business, and also easy to forget, so being mindful of respecting yourself is giving yourself some time to focus on your needs, which is micro level innovation focused on yourself and others around you will benefit naturally.

In fast-paced Silicon Valley, I learned that there is a healthy respect for ‘giving first’ and helping others. A great lesson from my experience with the Startup Catalyst Community Leadership Mission was how prominent this ethos is to help you start thinking in a way that you have the intention to help others first and then ask for help. The power of sharing ideas and experiences gives you a healthy respect for community and what it is capable of achieving. Also a respect for yourself in the way that you give yourself permission to ask for help, sometimes it can be as simple as that.

Over there in the valley and in Bolder Colorado, things are fast-paced and risky, and if you had any questions, they want you to be sure of what you’re asking, do it quickly and move on — no time for long-winded conversations, that’s respecting others time. The principle is straightforward, ask, and you will receive and move on. This is done in order to show respect for other people’s time.

Working in communities in regional Australia we share this ‘give first’ ethos that was created by Tech Stars a company who created the startup weekend concept in Bolder Colorado too give the startup community as a principle foundation to serve others. by sharing what the other successful communities are doing they feel a connection and it become a world wide language for startups to operate. Remember that respect always comes from you and then for others.

What if you could stop yourself from going out of business simply by having respect for who you are serving and looking deeper into ways that you can serve them best? What if you shared that with your staff and they where able to innovate in ways that they could respect others and you rewarded them and implemented those systems to enhance the human connection.

Jimmy Chamberlin once said, “You start to look at it with a deeper respect, and I think that deeper respect for what you do builds more self-respect.”

If you can respect and listen to your customers and have meaningful conversations with them so that they can communicate their real frustrations and problems, you can know how best to help them solve them. “How can I help?” or “What do you need?” are two good questions that prompt someone to share.

Respect yourself and know that you can’t do everything, ask for help when you do this you’re honoring their time and showing them respect. Make a list of things you have to do and seek out experts in that area to help you out. When you respect other people’s time, you have an awareness of others, and you treat others as you would like to be treated.

3.    Competition.

Know what your competition does well. Asking the question “What is my competition really good at”? Not just asking but being positive about it. When you ask someone about there competition, they will most likely answer with a negative and then start justifying what they have that they don’t, however that’s not the question.

This photo is from Plug & Play Silicon Valley. That day we watch a pitch competition. Watching brave entrepreneurs pitch their ideas for funding rounds.

When you know your competition and what they are good at you can clearly identify what it is that they focus on. This gives you clarity around your own business so you can clearly identify what you are good at, without putting down the competition. Get really clear on what they are good at. Then get really clear on your point of difference.

The benefit of looking at your competition (at what they are good at) is that you know their strongest offering. Remember, that competition is necessary for any business community and it creates the opportunity to discover a deep need for a niche market.

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today begins where competition leaves off,” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Being able to recognize the opportunity for self-improvement in every competition helps you to find the need that’s not being served. There’s so much more to competition than the negativity perceived by the general public. Know what your competition is good at, engage in creative thinking and innovation to construct a way to do it better.

4.   Cooperation.

Understanding each other on multiple levels is what cooperation is all about. Speaking the same language, a global business language and not being afraid of it. John Nash in his Evolutionary game theory, explains how cooperation between members of the same animal species leads to greater energy payoff and increased chances of survival than when they choose to compete for resources. Don’t believe me check it out for yourself.

Startups and innovation have its own culture, it’s not new and it’s been around for a very long time now back to the second world war and beyond that. Even back to the Napoleonic era, but that’s for another conversation all together. So stay with me…

Cooperation also means that government bodies are working with startups and innovators and must have a form of empathy towards them to effectively cooperate with these innovative minds as they are often of different mindsets and there motivators are not the same.

It’s important for the business community, be it SME (small to medium enterprise), or larger business to understand that we have to innovate to stay relevant on a global level, even if you think your product or service is for your local community only. It’s crucial that you find ways to take your product to the rest of the world and solve the same problems in communities around the world.

It is interesting and exciting to note that government bodies are working with entrepreneurs to learn and understand how they can boost economies through cooperating with startups and entrepreneurs and also evolve as a business themselves.

I was listening to Mark Boris on his podcast “The Mentor” recently, and he said… Small businesses these days are born global, and I totally agree. That statement is so powerful.

“No leader, however strong, can succeed at anything of national importance or significance unless he has the support and cooperation of the people he is tasked to lead and sworn to serve,” Rodrigo Duterte.

5.  Celebrate the People

Celebrating the people and the adventures of the year is all about the collaborations, the courage to be in the game and to acknowledge the competition, learning from them also how we respect ourselves and others in the process.

Jono Brake ( Co-founder of Business in Bare Feet) facilitating a Hatch AVL USA event

Find ways to celebrate your customers, suppliers and be supportive even when it’s not reciprocated, just celebrate what you offer. It is cooperation for the sake of making business better, not just in your community but in other areas that are not considered.

“If everyone is moving forward together, the success takes care of itself,” Henry Ford

Although technology has disrupted and altered our behaviors, these changes are fundamental human responses, and we all strive for human-to-human connection to move forward together. To respect ourselves and one another is the foundation of our needs and desire.

To add value and understand our competition from all perspectives, certainly helps us to strive to be better and improve ourselves. If you look closely, it’s simply how we operate as a tribe, this and this will never change.

Put it all together, we are only human!

This is just a few ideas to bring innovation back to very basic concepts because, lets get real here, we are only human and sometimes we think we know it but are we practicing it. When you look at these ideas, they are simple and just a reminder of how you can innovate and stay relevant in business.

Keep an eye out for us at Business in Bare Feet and connect on social. We would love to hear from you and how what simple things you have done to innovate in business. 

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