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How any business can innovate with what it already has

by Media Xpose

By: Juanita Vorster, business author and advisor 

Business leaders must strike a fine balance between keeping existing customers happy and reacting to changes in the environment around them. While being forced to change how we’ve done things in business is never easy, it’s always worth it.

When we look at our businesses differently, we must start at the basics. Have a look at the skills, expertise, equipment, and inventory you already have. You might have used it in one way up to now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in other ways or for different things. 

When trying to find new uses for existing resources, answer these two questions: what will people, companies and governments spend money on right now, and how can we use what we already have to make or offer those things?

External ideasImagining how to use things in a different way takes creativity, and it’s hard to be creative when you’re under pressure. It’s therefore important that you don’t go through this innovation journey alone.

Call on people outside of your regular circles. Explain to them in very simple terms what your skills or equipment can do and then ask them what they think you could do with it. The lack of details and their lack of experience doing what you do can make for very interesting ideas.

Think about how children draw things or how they play imagination games; they don’t let reality get in their way, they simply draw what they imagine.

At this stage of your thinking differently about things, that’s exactly what you’re after… just new ideas, whether they make sense or not.

The first rule of this type of brainstorming is to write down all ideas from yourself or others. It is not yet time to decide yes or no or to get into a discussion on why something might not work. Only once all the ideas are on the table then it is time to filter them through the lens of possibility and current reality.

When you look at each idea think about whether you can already do it or learn to do it quickly. If you have employees, ask for their feedback on the ideas, they might have skills that you didn’t even know about that could turn a seemingly crazy idea into the next best thing.

Don’t waitIf you do stumble upon something that sounds as if it is something people will buy right now, and you have the equipment and skills to bring the idea to life, the next thing you need to do is to make a rough prototype or create a rough process model and test it soon as possible.

The new product or new way of doing things doesn’t need to be perfect at the start. If you sit too long on a new idea by trying to make it perfect, others might launch before you do, and they will have the benefit of capturing the market’s attention first.

The new rule of the game is to get it done, get it out, make it better, then make it awesome by continuing to communicate with your staff and customers throughout the growth process.

Change doesn’t mean defeatYou might need to change track a few times to find something that really works for you. Give every somewhat feasible idea a good chance and make tweaks as you go along. During the process, you might just discover something unexpected and wonderful.

Most important of all, when you are forced to look at your business, products or services differently is to remember that accepting change isn’t giving up what you worked so hard for; it’s signing up for taking the value of the lessons learned into the future.

Success doesn’t start with a belief that you can accomplish anything, it starts with permission. Give yourself permission to let go, to start something new, to change, and achieve your fullest potential.

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