Innovation: The Key to a Small Business' Success

You know what you should do when life hands you lemons. The lemonade you make and serve when the economy slumps or your industry changes will be the key to your small business survival. That’s called innovation, and your job to help your business survive and thrive is to create the perfect lemonade recipe.

In the throes of a tumultuous economy, some businesses are thriving due to their innovative strategies. For instance, as reported by the New York Times, the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau developed an innovative marketing idea in Chicago to capture increased business. On prominent storefronts, they alternated images of harsh winter and people enjoying recreational activities in the sun. To track how effective their campaign was, they created a contest for a chance to win a trip to Scottsdale, AZ. They received 10,000 entries – and it is likely that many more took the initiative to escape the winter freeze by visiting Scottsdale on their own.

So how does innovation work? There is no set formula, of course. But here are some secrets to help you get innovative with your business strategies in a tough economy.

Associate Ideas and Information

The cliché of thinking outside the box is merely a concept of association. The entrepreneur or small business owner who can associate different ideas and put them together in unique ways is the one who will conquer innovation. Be observant about the climate of your customer base or industry. Learn to combine ideas and find new ways to solve problems.

Stretch Your Creativity

Most people believe creativity is a natural talent. The truth is that it can be developed and improved. Practice brainstorming techniques. Look at a problem and ask questions about it. If you ask questions rather than try to come up with a solution right away, you are likely to find a better solution because your perspective will be enhanced.

Learn to Model

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Learn to model creative behaviors from other masters. Anthony Robbins is a good example of someone who thinks and promotes creativity. Peter Drucker literally wrote the book on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Learn from masters like these, and you’ll have a great model to work toward your own innovation.

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