What if I could write down a bunch of ideas for you on a piece of paper that would:
1) Get you more sales for your business in a recession
2) Increase your profits comfortably over your previous year
3) Cut the worry about your business you have most nights
Would you be interested?
Of course you would. And I’d be just as interested to see the look on your face.
But here’s the thing:
Innovating isn’t something that can be reduced to a formula, turned into a formal structured process or be simplified into fixed rules. Nor can you just copy or imitate the methods of another company and expect fixed results.
Innovation consultants can’t magically give you ideas even if they spend hours getting to know your business.
A business owner who knows their business best, deep down to its core, their customers and market, is best qualified to come up with ideas to innovate in a recession.
The business owners I’ve worked with know their business and customers well. They constantly think about ways to improve their distribution and service as well as come up with new product ideas. All I’ve been able to do for them is to be a trusted advisor, use my experience and business know-how accumulated over many years and show them various ways to think differently to draw out ideas from them.
Innovation is crucial at any time but mostly in a recession.
I saw a motor service and repairs business advertising on the front of a city paper the other day. The business would take you to work while your car is being serviced and collect you when your car is ready. Nothing new. But their next service offering is to take your car in at any time during the day for a service – a morning service, afternoon service – anything you want.
An off-line stationery business is beating the majors in its city by offering free deliveries. Staff are knowledgeable and friendly. Not so with the major stationery group outlets who don’t even know what you’re talking about when you ask for specialised stationery. These groups wouldn’t even consider offering deliveries to smaller businesses.
Extended service gives a competitive edge in a recessionary economy. So do services that save costs, business models that give customers greater value and products that reduce running costs.
Some of the world’s biggest companies were born during economic slumps: HP in a garage at the end of the Great Depression, Sports Illustrated in the mid-1950s at the end of a recession and CNN was a little-known station in the recession of 1980 until it innovated the 24-hour news channel.
Think of all the business innovation right now in the recession – some in your own business backyard. What could you do differently to not just survive but thrive?