New ideas are the lifeblood of any business so it is important to encourage creativity among employees and to be truly innovative.
But creativity and innovation are not the same. Creativity is all about coming up with new ideas, whereas innovation involves putting new ideas into action.
New ideas can be very difficult to find. When you do find them and put them into action, they can provide a powerful marketing edge and become a license to print money.
Here are 8 ways to help generate new ideas for your business success:
1. Ask for Opinions
For example, which came first the ball-point pen or the roll-on deodorant? They both use the same ingenious principle.
2. Encourage Staff Creativity
If you employ staff, encourage them to think up new ideas and get them to suggest changes. You will need to be open-minded and encourage their input. You will need to be tolerant when their ideas do not work. And you will need to reward them in some way for good ideas, although you will probably find that the satisfaction of "seeing their ideas in action" may be reward enough.
3. Brain Storm
One of the best ways to tap into new ideas is through brainstorming. This could involve family, friends, staff, customers and even other business owners. The key with any brainstorming session is to disallow any negative comments and to only analyse or develop ideas once the session is over.
The purpose of a brainstorming session is to produce a quantity of ideas. It is quantity not quality. Refining the ideas comes later.
4. Re-educate the Mind
There is an old saying, "you never stop learning" and it is true. If you are willing to make a personal commitment to perpetual re-education you will reap the rewards. Allocate an annual budget (maybe 1% of your turnover) for personal and staff re-education. Consider training courses, seminars, workshops, audiotape programs etc.
5. Become a Case Study
Consider approaching a local high school, college, or polytechnic that runs business courses. Offer your business as a case study in return for feedback from the students.
6. Become a Surfer
There is a wealth of information on the Internet and most of it is free. Search other areas of business rather than just your own as you might be able to adapt a totally unrelated idea.
7. Read and Subscribe
You can often find ideas in the most unlikely places. Business, fashion and trade magazines are all worth a browse. These days it is easy to subscribe to any number of overseas publications.
8. Travel Opens Your Eyes
Visit similar (or even unrelated) businesses overseas. You will be surprised at how freely many of them share their knowledge; after all you are not a threat to them. In my travels I have made it a point to visit factories that make the strangest things, huge shopping malls, numerous small businesses and international marketing companies. It must work, because each time I seem to come home buzzing with ideas.
I would like to finish by repeating what I said earlier. The only purpose of a business is to bring in a customer; and there are really only two ways to do it - through marketing or innovation. So, there you have an important key to success in business. What you do with this information will depend on you. I wish you every success!