During the pandemic, many businesses were forced to close down. In turn, just as many people lost their jobs. But with bills to pay and mouths to feed, the only course of action we’ve got is to adapt and overcome.
To make ends meet, people started their own online brand—from reselling food and non-food items to baking or cooking a wide variety of dishes, thus causing a sudden boom in small businesses. But with all these startups in the market comes a challenge: how to stand out from the rest? And more importantly, how to stay relevant during the pandemic?
According to Bill Reichert of Pegasus Tech Ventures, a speaker during the IGNITE seminar that I recently attended, there are 10 ways to be innovative. He calls this the “New Innovation Paradigm,” which I think is highly helpful for startups.
10 Ways to Be Innovative and Make Your Business Relevant During the Pandemic
10. Focus on Innovation, Not on Invention
The common misconception in starting a business is that you need to offer something that no one else has. But the problem is, it’s hard. Somewhere out there, a brand has already beat you to it. Plus the thing with inventing a new product is that you’re not sure if everyone will want it.
And if you think about it, we live in a big, big world. Nowadays, there really isn’t a “unique” product anymore. There are many imitations, derivations, and even variations out in the market.
Don’t let the need to be unique stop you from starting a business. Work smart, and innovate instead. The key is to create a product that is better than the original. Something people need. Something that will give you a loyal customer base.
9. Invest in Open Innovation
According to Forbes, Open Innovation refers to “the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.” It’s basically a more distributed, participatory approach to innovation—operating on the notion that a company, no matter how big or small, cannot innovate on its own.
That’s why you need to be open-minded—open to learning, to new experiences, to new technologies, and to new methods. While traditional methods may work in some cases, most of the time, innovation happens when you think outside the box.
8. Embrace Diverse Teams, Tap Creative Conflict
Diverse teams not only give new perspectives and insights for the business, but each person too have their own areas of expertise. Some people are naturally more creative, while others are more logical. Some are good in the arts, while others are good at math. Even the generation each person is from, as well as their upbringing shapes their views and thought process and when utilized properly, will help your business grow.
Embrace diversity, use it as an asset for the brand, and don’t be afraid to butt heads with others over different opinions. Learn to listen and you may just find the next big idea there.
7. Build a Team of Leaders, Not a Team of Followers
Instead of expecting people to follow you like sheep, build a team of leaders. Don’t take this as a power struggle or a threat to your company—rather, let it help your business. Find someone who can be a strength and asset. Someone who can think for himself or herself. Instead of finding followers, find someone who wants the best for the business and using his or her own skills, will do anything to achieve it.
6. Win Through Collaboration
As they say, “No man is an island.” The same applies for your business. It does make for a good success story to say that you built the company with your own two hands, but in reality, it takes more than one to make it happen. In order to truly be successful, you need to seek help—to collaborate with others. That way, people who are experts in a field that you are unfamiliar with can help and someone can handle any limitations or weaknesses that you have.
5. Don’t Punish Failure, Encourage Experimentation
The thing with failure is that it is often punished. But if you think about it, how will you know what’s right if you don’t make mistakes? With that in line, don’t treat mistakes as failure. Look at it as experimenting until you find the right method. How else will you know what works and what doesn’t if you don’t try it? Theory and possibilities help, sure, but the real money is in actually trying out.
So when you start a business, don’t be afraid. Mistakes are not the end of the world. If anything, they serve as stepping stones until you find your niche, find what suits you, and succeed from there.
4. Design for Increasing Abundance
When deciding on a business concept, it is important to remember the end goal: improved quality of life. Brands and businesses create products that help make people’s lives better—whether that means making something convenient, efficient, mess-free, hassle-free, and more. Thus, it is important to look at the bigger picture and see what is it that you’d like to introduce to the market. Something that people will like or something useful.
Dream big and be creative. That’s the key.
3. Engage the Industry
Eventually, your business will grow. Yes, even home businesses can become restaurants in the future. In the stages of growth, eventually, you will be engaging with various industries as suppliers, partners, investors, or more. And that shouldn’t scare you. Not only do industry partners have insights of their own, but they too come backed with experience, which also will help your brand.
And like all other businesses, when choosing an industry partner, it is important to consider who offers the best products, services, or solutions. Remember: just as it is important to foster good connections, you still need to establish a good rapport with your business partner, as you will be getting their services or products time and time again.
2. It’s Okay to Copy
As mentioned earlier, there is a low probability of being unique, especially since a lot of products in the market are either offered elsewhere, an upgrade on an existing product, or even derived from something similar. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to copy. But make sure you’re copying something good, that is.
There’s a reason why certain products, certain business models, and certain brands are thriving. If you can pinpoint that very good thing that they’re doing, chances are your business will thrive like theirs. Just make sure to do something slightly different. No one takes well to a 100% carbon copy of a business. Plus, the goal is to stand out, so don’t just mindlessly follow trends. Make sure to find something that lasts.
1. People Drive Success Through Technology
In a world driven by technology, brands have to constantly keep up to stay relevant. For instance, traditional media like newspapers and TV were the go-to choice for advertising, but now digital advertising is the way to go. With the help of the proper tools, the proper business models, and the proper use of technology, you can not only get the word out to a wider audience, but you too can create output efficiently and creatively.
Innovation starts with open-mindedness, collaboration, and creativity. But beyond that, you need to also have a burning passion. This will serve as a driving force to take your business to new heights and help your brand grow amid these trying times.
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