Growth is one of the key goals of any successful business – but it can be a double-edged sword. As companies scale up, they experience growing pains that, if not handled deftly, can result in a downward spiral. Indeed, Neil Patel writes in Entrepreneur that premature scaling “can slay a business faster than nearly anything else”.
So how can an innovative approach help you scale your business successfully?
1. Learn from Mistakes
It’s a fact of business: you will make mistakes. The innovative business owner recognizes this, prepares for it, and knows that mistakes can sometimes fuel the greatest innovations.
An innovative mindset means giving your company and employees the breathing room to make mistakes without disastrous consequences. To start, create a supportive atmosphere where people can express their ideas without ridicule or reproach.
Of course, it depends on the type of mistakes. We’re not talking about mistakes like failing to meet promises to the customer. The types of mistakes that support innovation are those that arise from trying new ideas and ways of doing things. They won’t always work, but you’ll always learn something from the process of having tried.
2. Redefine Internal Processes
The internal dynamics of a company change as it scales.
For example, maybe when you were smaller, you could function without any kind of internal employee hierarchy because everyone could come to you – the CEO – with their questions. But as you scale, that kind of process will become untenable, fast. You’ll need to rethink how the internal structure of your business is organized.
That’s just one example of a process you might need to redefine as you grow. Also consider: the technologies you use, your manufacturing process, or how your marketing and sales functions interact, etc. Each facet of the internal workings of your business will be under strain as you grow. It’s better to take an innovative approach early on to change these processes than to cling to ineffective models.
3. Invest in Efficiency
Any inefficiencies in your organization now will only increase exponentially as you grow. As you begin to scale (or before!), take a step back and identify potential areas of improvement. Devote some time and resources to increasing efficiencies across the company.
This will likely require looking at something in a new way, employing a new process, or adopting new technologies. You should also focus on getting buy-in from your team on the changes.
4. Embrace Change
As you grow, you need to be ready to try new things and, if something isn’t working, change courses.
Listen to your customers and get a feel for their needs. Look at what your competitors are doing. Pay attention to technological shifts. Reassess your current products and services. Any one of these areas might yield insight that you can act on with a radical shift in a positive direction.
The bigger your company gets, the harder it is to make large shifts, so you should pursue these shifts as early into your company’s growth as possible.
Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in the rut of “it’s always worked before, so it will work now”. That’s a surefire route to business obsolescence.
5. Step Ahead of Your Competition
You don’t need to be a giant corporation to capitalize on innovation and stay a step ahead of your competitors. Small businesses can scale to huge enterprises with the right innovative idea, beating out even entrenched competitors. Think of Uber, AirBnB, and Apple.
Innovation helps you add value to your offerings and differentiate your business in the saturated marketplace.
Growing Businesses Need Innovation
A strategy based on innovation will help a growing company scale successfully.
Build a workplace culture that seeks and reward innovation. No matter how big your company gets, never abandon the startup mentality. Ask the hard questions.
If you want your business to overcome the obstacles it faces and seize opportunities as it scales, you must innovate.
Is your company innovative? Try our Innovator Self-Test. It has only 10 questions and takes less than 2 minutes!
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