From droughts to floods to bushfires and COVID-19, small business owners have faced a tough year. Those with an agile mindset have been able to innovate and survive. But how do you cultivate an innovation mindset? And how does technology support innovation and boost business growth?
Businesses flock to online
Jon Manning, Economist at MYOB believes the pandemic has caused a great leap forward in digital adoption by small business owners. Necessity has caused many small businesses to adapt and switch to digital technology to facilitate remote work experiences and online stores.
“The MYOB Business Monitor report in June noted businesses without an online presence went from 34 per cent in January to 26 per cent in June. The same report showed 48 per cent of SMEs were somewhat or very unprepared for a business disruption like a pandemic,” he notes.
Manning tells SBF the results show just how important digital technology has been in assisting businesses to ride out the disruption of COVID-19.
“It has always been important for business owners to have an innovative mindset. [However] innovation is now as imperative as the grit and determination we typically associate with small business owners to ensure success as the trading environment changes.
“One thing is for certain: the digital age is here to stay, and small businesses will continue to adapt to this new environment in multiple ways.”
3 steps to develop an innovation mindset
Encourage a can-do attitude
Building a culture of innovation is the first important step in getting your employees on board the innovation train. If you want to encourage innovation, your staff need to feel as though they can contribute ideas too. Clear communication is essential – break down any barriers between leadership and employees to make it easy to collaborate. Share ideas and brainstorm together ways in which you can grow your business or adopt technology to grow. Surround yourself with people whose creativity is already flowing. Encourage ‘soft skills’ and nurture creative habits. Embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship. Getting into an entrepreneurial state of mind will help you make the most of every opportunity. Think about the role of purpose in your business. Understand what problems your customers have and seek out solutions.
Embrace innovative technology
From cloud solutions to AI – digital innovation is changing how businesses do business, automating tasks, delivering real-time data and saving time and money. According to recent Telstra research, businesses that have managed to rapidly digitise during lockdown say that tech and telecom services are now more important than they had been in a pre-COVID world. Connected, always-on tech is now being used by small businesses to create new experiences for customers and new ways of doing business.
Consider what digital transformation means for you? What are there tech solutions that could transform what ‘business as usual’ means?
Remember innovation and transformation can be big or small. Just be certain that when you embrace new tech it should add value to the way you operate, serve your customers or support your staff.
Connect and collaborate
Never underestimate the power of mentoring and networking. It’s easy for small business owners to get stuck in a rut or to feel isolated. That’s why it’s important to connect with other like-minded business owners to share ideas and collaborate. Joining your local business chamber or business network is a great place to meet other business owners, share challenges, learnings and survival tips. Similarly, there’s nothing like walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. A mentor or business coach can often help you brainstorm tricky problems or share their own challenges to give you greater insight.
There is little doubt innovation is a fundamental pillar of many successful businesses. If you want to grow your business adopting an innovation mindset should be on your to-do list today.
This post originally appeared on small business first you can read it here.