Innovation is a start-up’s bread and butter. A newer business can make bold decisions and think outside the box because it’s small enough to bounce back if something goes awry. Without a mammoth customer base, public reputation, and an abundance of employees resting on the outcome, the risk isn’t quite as… risky.
However, as a business grows and goes corporate, taking on potentially hundreds or thousands of employees and extending its reach across the world, the structure and operational considerations grow and become much less tolerant of risk. At this point, trying to implement change becomes an enormous task that requires large-scale cooperation.
Not only does growth make big change difficult to achieve, but it means that the risk of failure often outweighs the potential positive impact of innovative decisions. The trouble is, for merchants to stay relevant to their customers and outshine their competitors, they must consistently evolve.
The question is:
How do you marry the agility and imagination of a newer company with the resources and scale of an established company?
Here are six easy-to-implement innovation plans you can action within your organisation to stay innovative, even after you’ve successfully scaled:
1. Bring in an innovation team
Innovation has to be cultivated. It must be moulded, guided, and structured – it cannot be just another job on an ever-growing to-do list, where it is likely to be forgotten or overlooked for more pressing matters. That’s why we developed the Credorax ‘Innovation Lab’ – a place for even the smallest of ideas to grow alongside the business.
With an entire team or department dedicated solely to innovation, no matter what is happening – in or outside of the business – innovation will always be a priority.
2. Partner up
To stay on top of new market trends as your business scales, it’s worth partnering up with other businesses, such as start-ups with cutting edge ideas that align with your proposition.
Around 50% of the Innovation Lab initiatives we’ve completed at Credorax have been through a joint venture. Through this model, we can explore the innovative and disruptive ideas that will bolster our client offering, while simultaneously providing start-ups the clients they need to test out their services. In this way, we can develop the ideas and shape them together, making it a win-win for both sides.
3. Prioritise lean, agile and low-cost ideas
A worthwhile project should always be acted on quickly and developed to production with live customers for a short trial (up to around four months) to see how it fares. Considering how fast ideas can come and go – from testing to the next stage, or to the trashcan – the trial should be low cost, to ensure you’re not losing out during the trial itself.
If a project isn’t as valuable as originally thought, you need to let go – don’t spend a year on something which doesn’t have proof of success.
4. Think simple, but lovable
If a customer views a product as effortless and fully automated – even though there may be 20+ employees running the show behind the scenes – then it’s a great product from a user experience perspective.
If it’s not working smoothly, it’s not lovable.
5. Encourage cross-team collaboration
This is always a challenge for international businesses. Since big disruptions take a lot of time and manpower, it can sometimes be hard to secure buy-in from other departments.
Our Innovation Lab helps to promote and push for more collaboration across the company, since we only focus on projects with a short timeline. If you can tell other teams that you’d like their involvement on a short disruptive innovation, colleagues are much more able to free up time than they could for bigger projects which may take many months or years to go to market.
6. Embrace failure
Not all ideas are going to end up becoming products or services to offer your customer base, but that doesn’t mean it was a waste of time or resources. The knowledge gained from a project usually far outweighs the loss, and it can often contribute to the success of future projects – potentially speeding up the process further down the line.
Remember: even if an innovation attempt or plan isn’t successful, it can still bring many benefits to your business!
Exploring your imagination and trialling novel ideas will keep your business ahead of the game and standing out from the competition. Don’t spend time fretting over ‘failed’ ideas; instead, get ready for what’s next.
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