Small business owners are no strangers to developing and enhancing product lines. With many larger companies, there are dedicated teams of experts who cull through mounds of data and present business cases to upper management for the “next big idea.” Conversely, for many small business owners, this team of experts typically is the owner and a few trusted employees who are the creators of the next big idea! Now, in and of itself, it is not a bad thing to have owners involved in the creation process. After all, the owner is fully invested in his or her dream!
Lately, there appears to be a repetitive cycle happening. Being too cautious could lead to stifling innovation itself. If you look around at new product launches, regardless of what industry, you will find that many businesses, no matter the size, are focused on line extensions. These line extensions are the “new news” that hopefully will generate the return on investment (ROI) that a given company seeks. However, sometimes, these line extensions offer very little differentiation to the consumer. If the consumer doesn’t see the product as “new news” or doesn’t see a perceived value for price difference, the ROI may not be realized.
Consumers, especially millennials, who have grown up with digital technologies, are constantly seeking the next big idea. This is truly a very aspirational generation. Since they tend to follow trends, it’s hard to stay ahead of the game with this fickle consumer group. And, there is a growing importance being placed on these demographics given their sheer numbers and that they have come of age in terms of buying power. Retailers, in particular, must ensure their brick-and-mortar locations are engaging and updated regularly to keep this kind of consumer interested. Therefore, renovations, too, can limit the innovation process, as well as limit the anticipated ROI.
Another issue stems from just going thru the invention cycle itself. Depending on the process your business has in place, there is a risk of getting to market too late or being unable to produce enough scale. With the current market volatility, many businesses are placing emphasis on developing a formalized process for creating the next big idea!
With that in mind, small business owners should consider stepping up their innovation cycle to keep ahead of competitive pressures within the marketplace. Your best practice should include: flexibility in developing new products and services, using technology and offering customization, developing measures to project cost and potential sales, developing products and services that appeal to larger audiences, and utilizing social media to help convey news about your new products and services. With the implementation of a formalized process, small business owners should glean better results and a higher degree of satisfaction from their innovation strategy.
Adele Lassere is a marketing & advertising consultant with 20+ years experience, freelance writer and author of “Elements of Buying: A How To Reference Guide on Advertising for Business Owners,” available at Amazon.com. Adele was listed as Black Enterprise’s 2011 Top Execs in Marketing & Advertising and Black Enterprise’s 2013 Top Women Executives in Advertising & Marketing. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org