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No Matter Your Business, Innovation Drives It

July 14, 2014 - 0

Whatever your business is, its primary driver is innovation. It can be innovation in products, innovation in delivery, innovation in process, or innovation in business management. Something, somewhere, must be innovative or you’re not going to see the success you wish to have. This has been true since the beginning of modern business.

At the turn of the century, for example, most products could be shipped around the nation relatively easily, so shoe cobblers, leather tanners, and blacksmiths now had competition on the shelves at the general store. Why pay the cobbler for the usual pair of shoes when well-made boots could be had at the same price out of imported leather than lasted twice as long and held together by nails made out of better steel from the other side of the country?

In today’s market, it’s very unlikely that your business is offering a product or service that isn’t available from any of dozens of other providers your prospective customers have easy access to. If your product itself isn’t completely new and innovative, then something else about your business must be if you’re to succeed.

Perhaps your business plan has an innovative process for making that product more attractive, cheaper, or otherwise better? Or perhaps you have an unusual service you’re offering as a stand-alone product or in and around another product? Perhaps the entire way you go about business is completely different from others?

Apple, for example, has the iPhone and iPad. These are innovative products, but they are not necessarily better than, cheaper than, or more useful than the competition. In fact, smart phones and devices using Google’s Android operating system are far more common on the global market than are iPhones and iPads. Yet Apple continues to see huge profit margins and robust sales. Why? Because Apple doesn’t just sell products, they sell “the Apple experience.” They’ve branded themselves as “cool” and “sleek” and have revolutionized much of the purchase and use experience for buyers of smart devices. They’ve innovated in marketing and business management.

Ford Motor Company is another example. Twenty years ago, Ford was selling trucks and SUVs like hotcakes and the profits were huge. Yet the company began working on improving their cars, traditionally good sellers that had slim profit margins, for the global market because they saw that European and Asian sales would be the future. When the financial crisis of 2008 hit the automotive industry, Ford had laid the groundwork for keeping its brand globally competitive with models that were selling well internationally. Because of they, they did not require U.S. government loans and instead put everything on the line to stay in business. Today, Ford is one of the fastest-growing brands on the planet and their cars and compact crossovers amount to fifty percent of their total sales – even while the F-150 pickup truck continues its multi-decade reign as the best-selling truck. Ford’s Focus compact car was the best-selling vehicle on the planet last year. All because Ford thought ahead and innovated their business strategy.

So what about you? Is your business management innovative? Are you breaking new ground and changing the game? If you don’t innovate, you will stagnate.

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