Innovation: Moving Forward
From Slump to Success

by Joanne Leitschuh

What's a big mistake that a small business can make? Stagnation. That is, going to work day after day, week after week, marching to the deadly drumbeat of "same old, same old".

When experiencing a season of no growth in sales or a sliding backwards in offering customers the services they are expecting you to provide, what might be needed is a good shake-up! It takes real courage and creativity to step back and see where a much-needed change in product or procedure is needed for a strategic boost is your business.

There are many ways to innovate that can really make a difference in increasing your profit. For example, in the jewellery wholesale business I'm involved in, there have been at least seven sales reps driving around the country servicing hundreds of customers for the past 25 years. These days, the costs of gasoline, accommodation, insurance and increasing stress levels while travelling continue to climb. We felt there must be a better way to reach thousands of buyers that the reps found impossible to visit in the short amount of presentation hours available to them.

Why not capitalize on today's technology of the Internet? Developing an informative, attractive and user-friendly website and email system for sales isn't easy. However, by using the right resources, it can be done. We would be "visiting" new buyers from all over the world! We could offer them the same services that our current customers appreciate.

The bold marketing techniques used these days only affirm that competition is increasing while at the same time, the consumer's attention span is decreasing. What better reason to begin the process of innovation in both product and service? Guy Browning, in the May 2002 issue of Management Today, outlined…

Ten Ways to Innovate

1. Apply an area of expertise to an area of ignorance.
2. Combine two good ideas into one better idea.
3. Design it to look and feel better.
4. Import or export an idea into a new market.
5. Make it disposable or longer lasting.
6. Make it exclusive or cheap and cheerful.
7. Make the event as interactive as possible.
8. Make a small thing bigger or a big thing smaller.
9. Do it quicker or easier or friendlier.
10. Make it just for men or women or children.

I have often seen how people respond to something new and fresh. They naturally are attracted to something that they haven't seen or experienced before. Why? It could be for many reasons: liberation from boredom and routine, increased advantages in profit or ease of labour, a need for change and motivation in their personal desires.

We have all experienced lack -- a void in our situation or heart that needs to be filled by something or someone. Perhaps this new thing on the market will meet that need -- perhaps not. Something "new" holds the promise of something better than what we know now. I have experienced both an uplift in my business and in my spirit when God, my loving Father, has given me a new idea. I ask for His specific directions because He knows no bounds. His ways lead to improvements. Sometimes these ideas can at first seem risky or overwhelming. So what is the attraction of a new idea? A chance to see God come through, an opportunity to learn to trust and obey, and the added bonus of something better.

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