Innovating Beyond 2015

life stair(Note: This article was originally published by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. at http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/239239 Copyright 2014 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Apple’s recent product announcements provide an excellent opportunity for business leaders to innovate. Following trends is a common practice by intelligent businesses. For example, leaders monitor trends that are affecting their industry today and in the near future. However, many companies are not fully leveraging innovation opportunities by extending current trends farther into the future.

Apple’s announcement of the Apple Watch and Apple Pay service are the latest examples of a growing market for wearable technology and alternate payment methods. Many companies are monitoring these trends and working to develop products and services that are in alignment with them.

For example, innovative thinkers will carefully evaluate the new opportunities to engage with their customers in an intimate manner through a wearable device. Although smartphones and other mobile devices provide a personal connection with a customer, the ability to interact through a device physically “connected” to the customer for significant periods of time is a new business opportunity.

How can your business provide a better customer experience and build a stronger customer relationship with wearable devices? Visualize a customer using a wearable device throughout a typical day. How do they interact with it, and what functions could make the customer’s day easier, more productive or more enjoyable? Consider other products or applications that can interact with the wearable device to benefit the customer.

The alternate payment trend provides new payment methods that do not require a traditional credit card or debit card. Paying with a mobile device presents new opportunities to engage with customers and help them with purchase decisions.

Truly innovative companies will review these current trends and go one step further by looking for new problems that will be caused by these trends.

Charging Your Creative Energy

torre de alta tensión.Concepto de energia electricaRegardless of what you have been told, you are a creative person. When it comes to solving problems or creating something new, every individual is unique. We all have different skills, experiences, and viewpoints. These differences cause each person to approach problems in a different way.

But, an important part of the creative process is putting yourself in the proper environment. This environment is different for each person. When looking for your perfect creativity or innovation environment, consider these factors:

Stuck? 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Gain a Fresh Perspective

Business Problem: Crisis and Frustration(Note: This article was originally published by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. at http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238166 Copyright 2014 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Innovation is important to entrepreneurs, whether they are starting a new venture or expanding an existing business, as a new or improved product can provide a competitive edge.

Innovations may include a completely new product or improving an existing one that provides a more valuable experience for the consumer. The new or improved product can provide a competitive edge that makes the business stand out from the crowd. Innovative ideas are valuable to entrepreneurs in all industries and for businesses of all sizes.

Yet many entrepreneurs, do not fully utilize innovation or understand how to ignite it, causing them to miss out on potential ideas that could have a significant impact on the success of their business.

For those struggling, here are five ways entrepreneurs can start identifying innovative ideas that can rapidly accelerate their business.

1. Recognize innovation opportunities

Many innovations are developed to solve problems or enhance existing products or services. To determine what needs to be disrupted, develop a habit of noticing problems in your own business, your competitors’ businesses and in your entire industry. If your customers are not satisfied with your existing products, you have an opportunity for innovation. Use these problems as “seeds” for brainstorming innovative ideas.

Leveraging Failure To Produce Innovation

success failureBased on my experiences with over a thousand innovators during the past 20 years, I understand that innovation includes both success and failure.  Many good ideas are difficult to implement or are “too early” for public acceptance.  In some cases, the development of an idea into a working product is a lengthy process.  This process typically includes multiple tests and a significant number of failures.  However, successful innovators learn from these failures to modify their approach and prepare another test.

I recently read an article that reminded me of Thomas Edison’s many attempts to create a working light bulb.  Edison did not view his thousands of experiments as failures.  Instead, Edison

5 Tips for Developing Valuable Ideas for your Business

photoMy family and I recently vacationed along the northern coast of California. This picture was taken during that visit.

Spending time along the ocean is one of my best innovation environments. Although I was not working during this trip, just spending time in that environment created dozens of new ideas for my business.

The spot where I took that picture is 900 miles away today, but I can recreate that innovative environment right now by visualizing the experience of walking along the Pacific Ocean. I can recreate the images, sounds and the smell of the ocean breeze whenever I want to stimulate my creative energy.

Here are five tips I use regularly to identify and develop new ideas for my business.

Growing Your Business From The Outside

observed businessMany businesses rely on internal personnel to generate ideas and procedures to grow the company.  While internal people are critical to the success of any business, an innovative business will seek ideas and input from individuals outside the company to strengthen the business.

Unfortunately, many business leaders fall into the trap of believing that the company founders and other business personnel are best suited to identify all ideas related to growth of the business.  In many situations, these business leaders fail to seek (or simply ignore) input from people outside the company.  However, people outside the company’s day-to-day operations typically have a different perspective.  They are not

The Key to Innovation Success

Innovate ButtonI have seen too many business leaders say that innovation is important, but fail to take action in support of their statements. This situation confuses employees and destroys a company’s ability to create a culture of innovation. By missing out on potentially valuable ideas, these companies have difficulty distinguishing themselves in the marketplace.

Education is an important step in developing an innovation strategy for any company.  This innovation education is important at all levels in the organization. To successfully create a team of people who are actively developing innovative ideas, the company’s leaders must support creative activities and understand how to encourage innovative thinking.

6 Common Innovation Myths

Fact Myth Switch Shows Facts Or MythologyMany entrepreneurs and business leaders do not leverage the power of innovative ideas in their business. Here’s a list of common myths about innovation I have encountered from many leaders, and the facts about applying innovative ideas today.

1. Only for Technology Companies. Many people believe that innovations are only for technology-based companies. Although technology businesses develop plenty of innovations, any business – regardless of size, location or industry – can develop innovations. These innovative ideas may relate to the company’s products and services as well as internal business procedures.
2. Just for Scientists and the R&D Department. Business leaders often leave the company’s innovation activities to the Engineering or Research & Development departments. However, this approach can fail to identify many valuable innovations. I have seen numerous examples

Overcoming Barriers to Innovation

Innovation BarrierIn a recent article, I identified several road blocks to innovation. Unfortunately, I have seen these road blocks stop the development of innovative ideas at many companies. Some of the brightest and most talented business leaders have crashed head-first into these road blocks.

I don’t want to see you make the same mistake. To help you avoid these barriers, I discuss several ways to overcome these road blocks and successfully apply innovation in your business.

1. Stuck in a Rut – Human beings love habit.  We love staying on an existing path and sticking to what’s familiar.  But, innovation in business is all about breaking habits and changing perspectives.  You may have had a success before that you’d like to duplicate.  There’s always an impulse to do the same things repeatedly.  But when you do this, you can get stuck in a rut.  Instead, you want the innovation process to be one of discovery.  Constantly try new things and approach the process like a child doing something for the first time.

Road Blocks To Innovation

Council road blocksEvery business must manage different types of obstacles to continue growing. An important activity that drives business growth is developing innovative ideas. However, innovation “road blocks” can stop even the most promising business venture. During the past 20 years, I have seen many companies fail to identify and apply innovations capable of significantly improving the bottom line. It’s disappointing to see the collapse of an organization with huge potential, especially when a failure to innovate likely contributed to the breakdown.

Increase the success of your own business by learning to identify and overcome innovation “road blocks.” I have identified many such road blocks encountered by numerous companies. Here are several of the most common issues that hold back business innovation.