Is Your Business Innovative?

This past week, CEO Joe, my coworker, and myself were wrapping up the day at the office, and my coworker piped up:

“Do you guys realize that there is no one within 100 miles doing what we’re doing here? No one. That’s exciting.”

And he’s right. The things we’re doing, and capable of doing, you’d have to go to a much larger firm in Raleigh to get. But this isn’t a Datagroup commercial. This is a post about your company: how innovative is your company? Is there someone within 100 miles doing what you’re doing? Why or why not? What separates you from them?

The Benefits of Innovation

Innovation, in and of itself, is a good thing. But with it comes a ton of great assets as well:

  • If you’re leading the pack in terms of innovation, you’re also likely leading the pack in terms of the industry standards. For instance, if you’re coming up with new & innovative dishes at your restaurant, chances are you can cook a mean steak. People will realize that, and will come to you not just for innovation, but for the standards as well.
  • If you’re striving to innovate, talent will find you. If, in your imaginary restaurant, you’re experimenting with gastrochemistry and other innovative cooking techniques, the most talented chefs will want to be on the cutting edge alongside you. What this means is that your innovation will feed your talent pool…which will feed your innovation.
  • If you’re striving to innovate, you’ll be ready for both economic recession and explosion. It’s the classic “innovation comes during recession” theory. Small businesses innovate during recession because they have to. But the reverse is true as well. During an economic upturn, businesses have to innovate to stay ahead of the competition. If you’re innovating already, you’ll be set regardless of economic trends.

How to Innovate

This is all well and good, but you’re wondering where to start. Here’s some ideas:

  • Know where your industry is heading. At Datagroup, we are good at this. CEO Joe and my coworker know the latest and greatest network technologies. I’m aware of the most innovative web development technologies out there…even before they hit the browsers. And this knowledge keeps up thinking ahead. So that by the time these technologies have hit the mainstream, we’re far ahead of the curve.
  • Hire young people. The young people who have been in the industry for a little amount of time don’t have traditional ways of doing things. They look at the industry now and in the future (see above tip). And that’s how they work. Having young minds around brings fresh ideas to the table, which helps in thinking of where you can innovate.
  • Have a vision. This is a topic for a totally different post, but do you dream where your business will be in a year? 5 years? 10 years? If it looks like what you’re doing now, only with more people and more customers, you’re doing it wrong. The industry will smoke  you, leaving you in the dust to rot among the other mind-numbed corpses of corporations who think that more customers is the pinnacle of innovation and growth. Dream big.

What do you guys think? How can we be more innovative?

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