Chris Morling, Founder of money.co.uk and sponsor of Innovation Rocks the Cotswolds explains how Innovation and successful entrepreneurship go hand in hand, without one you simply can’t have the other.
What differs between companies is the importance placed on innovation and its scale and integration within the business.
Most people associate ‘innovation’ with the big disrupters. Companies that revolutionise an industry like Uber or Airbnb, businesses that create a new niche like Graze and companies that develop incredible, standout products such as Dyson and Tesla. However, innovation can take many forms and it’s not only found in the big brands we’re all familiar with.
What is innovation?
Innovation doesn’t have to directly relate to the product or service a business delivers, it could be a ground breaking idea, a new device, or a method that massively improves output or efficiency. It could relate to internal processes, management systems, company structure, technological infrastructure, sales processes, marketing messages…the list goes on.
These areas are not always given the attention they deserve by entrepreneurs who are solely focused on what they are delivering, rather than how they deliver it. I believe this is a mistake.
As an entrepreneur it can be all too seductive to get drawn into the day to day running of a business and forget the value in dedicating time to stepping back and looking at how the business does what it does. Innovation should run through a business like blood coursing through your veins and touch everything a business does.
Innovation is not easy. By definition you are creating something new, something that has not been done before. At some point you have to turn your calculated risk into a leap of faith that you’re making the right decision without being able to see how it’s turned out elsewhere.
So why innovate?
For me there is one reason – to improve. By this I don’t just mean what we deliver as a product or service although that’s of course a key focus. There are so many other areas of a business that can be drastically improved by integrating innovation. Greater efficiency in how a team works, increasing job satisfaction, reaching more customers, reducing costs and so on. For me the key is to empower my team to innovate themselves; it’s ingrained in our culture.
To give an example, at money.co.uk we have invested considerable time and effort developing innovative technical solutions that automate time consuming and laborious tasks. This means my team get to focus on the more challenging, more exciting work that makes a big impact.
You CAN innovate
Innovation isn’t all about developing ground breaking new products or services. Your business can be innovative in the way it operates – for instance in its manufacturing process or sales channels. Behind the scenes innovation can be enough to differentiate you from competitors, so you succeed even if the product or you’re offering is very similar.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating slacking off. Creating an amazing new product or service that is going to delight their customers is something we should all aim for.
However, I firmly believe that innovation should be woven into the core of every business. But that innovation can come in many forms and often will be hidden to the outside.