Staying Innovative as a Small Business Owner

Once you initially find success through your small business, it can be easy to become jaded by the positive vibe running through your company. However, staying on top of your game and being innovative is crucial to holding a presence in the industry.

Employees can be valuable resources.

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have managed to stay afloat through innovation: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the two biggest computer gurus around the world, are continuously coming up with new products to keep up with customer demand.

Part of being innovative is developing ideas, goods and services that can help consumers in ways that they had not even imagined. You can also build your reputation as a small business owner in the industry by staying one step ahead of the game and gaining an edge on your competitors.

Many people feel that they lack the creativity to be innovative on a regular basis or simply don't have the time. However, says there are a number of ways that entrepreneurs and their staff can brainstorm routinely to sustain the health of the company.
  1. Talk to your staff. As a small business owner, some of your best assets can be your employees. Allow your staff to help you be innovative if you can't quite get the creative juices flowing yourself. Ask the individuals to play a role in the growth of the company through regularly contributing ideas on how to propel the overall success of the business. Every employee should have an understanding that they are a significant part of the company as a whole. This can be a motivating factor as well.
  2. Utilize software to keep track of ideas. As an entrepreneur, technology is your best friend--especially software. There are a number of products on the market that can be used to manage everything from your small business finances to distribution. Why not take advantage of one to jot down good ideas? Software can be especially helpful in logging the brainstorming sessions among employees, even if you just want to stash them away for a rainy day.
  3. Invest in down-time. It may seem like a frivolous concern, but it can be difficult to brainstorm and get the creative juices flowing if you are too busy with your other daily obligations. Make it a responsibility to set aside time to relax, unwind and allow your mind to wander from time to time. You don't have to necessarily take up meditation (although it might help)--just find the time to sit down and brainstorm ideas that can keep your business producing unique, high-quality goods and services to your consumers.
  4. Look to your interns. If you have any younger staff members working for your small beading business, don't take them for granted, especially their budding creative minds. Hold a contest to get your interns involved with the rest of your staff. They are likely to have ideas that few people could have come across through thinking outside of the box.
  5. Set aside company time for innovation. Although you might be able to find the time to brainstorm outside of the workplace, that doesn't mean that your staff is as lucky. To make sure that everyone is making the most out of the opportunity to get their creative juices flowing, try to allot a certain percentage of time to innovation, whether it be five or 10 percent. Don't think of this as losing money or productivity--the ideas that can come up during this innovation period might help you gain further success in the future.
  6. Consider a reward system for good ideas. Businessweek reports that one of the most common factors that slow down small businesses is the economy. A weak system can make it difficult for companies to stay one step ahead of the game and meet customer demands. However, entrepreneurs can put in a valiant effort to overcome these struggles through creating a reward system for innovative employees. Making sure that a staff is constantly thinking of ways to improve the business, even during sluggish economic conditions, can provide a strong foundation for your company.
  7. Stress risk-taking. It may seem like a risky proposition in itself, but some of the most renowned innovators are known for taking chances, even before testing the waters of the market. Instead of going with the flow, venture outside of your comfort zone once in awhile to keep your business fresh. Encourage your employees to take a shot in the dark once in awhile, too. Even if you make nothing out of the endeavor, you will at least come away with valuable experience. This can continue to motivate you to work toward your goals as an entrepreneur.