Innovation & Your Business


There are many organisations looking to promote innovation in business, particularly as we all look to navigate our way through the financial crisis which we currently find ourselves in. It is often deemed essential to be innovative in business, exploiting new ideas and providing your clients with more reason to choose your products or services over your competitors'.

Quite often however, 'innovation' is a term which is thrown around all too frequently, without much thought and consideration as to the consequences - consequences which stretch from a less than definitive definition of the word, to those using the word to describe their products or services being seen as somewhat spam-like in their nature. With all this said, is it absolutely necessary for businesses to strive for innovation in order to be successful, or is this word simply just a nonsense term? Innovation has lead to every major breakthrough, whether commercial developed or not.

The ability to think outside the box allows for a fresh perspective and a new approach which can offer significant rewards. The fact is however, not every business currently operating would be guaranteed such rewards should they develop their own innovative products or services. Instead, the innovative direction which they take could in fact, result in business failure. What's more, if every business were seen to be 'innovative', it could be said that innovation would not exist at all. Business Link is keen to encourage innovation in business, highlighting several steps which can aid business growth through this practice.

The list is reasonably comprehensive and what's more, can be adapted to suit the needs of the individual business by specifying the length of time and effort they wish to dedicate to innovation. Examples of the suggestions which are discussed range from creating a supportive atmosphere in which people feel free to express their ideas without the risk of criticism, to rewarding innovation by assigning appropriate incentives to staff for creative thinking. The prominent risk associated with innovation is, quite simply, ensuring a positive ROI. Without a quantifiable return on the time and effort spent thinking creatively in terms of product/service development, a business could quite easily fail. Further, with no guarantees that the innovative strategy employed will be a success, there is quite often as much a chance for an innovation to fail as there is of it succeeding.

With this in mind, it is good to know that there are places you can turn to in order to finance your innovative strategy from outside of your business. Unfortunately, more often than not, this will cost you too. Whether you turn to your bank for a loan, or engage in equity release negotiations with Venture Capitalists, you are almost always taking a gamble and still stand to lose out should your investigation into innovation fail. In an attempt to avoid sounding too negative, it is important to appreciate that innovation is an area of business which is a risk. Not all people are capable of creating their own success stories based on their abilities to innovate, and so, it's essential that a degree of realism is applied to any decisions made throughout the cause of innovative investigations.

It would be great if all innovative ventures resulted in success, yet this simply isn't possible. It is for this reason that we believe in many cases, innovative product/service development may have more of a negative affect than a positive one. Ultimately, you must be pretty confident in your innovation in order to explore the possibilities it holds during a recession such as this. For more information on innovation, and the potential it has for your business, visit the Advantage West Midlands website, where there are many resources available, from information on Grants, R&D Tax Credits and the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Programme.

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