Are you innovating?

The beauty of small business is that we can innovate at a much faster pace than large companies; we don’t have the layers, the bureaucracy, the red tape, the obstacles that large corporations face. We can move faster, think bigger and develop quicker because of our size, and often out of necessity. Small business often brings new ideas to big business. On the other hand, we don’t have the resources big business has to put into salaries, equipment, labs, and experts to develop the next big thing.

Innovation is key, no matter your field or size of business. If you don’t innovate, you will slowly (or quickly) die. Just take a look at the Blackberry. They’re having trouble innovating, and tech bloggers are already writing the company’s obituary.

We can look at Blackberry as a cautionary tale, especially in this age of electronica. Just two years ago, our company’s main revenue source was cold calling. We used Blackberries to call people. But even as more people have personal phones in addition to their office phones, they were answering them (both of them), less. And if you watch a teenager for five minutes, there isn’t much chance that will change. (Adults in our house send an average of 400 texts per month and talk 800 minutes, whereas our teenage daughter sends 4000 texts and talks for 46 minutes per month.)

We knew we had to innovate or close our doors. We looked around at what the adults in our lives (both personal and business) were doing, and saw everyone emailing. Even our 83-year-old friend communicates more on email than he does on the phone. Since, we have found that people are more likely to answer a cold email than a cold call; heck, they’ve even called us back as a result of an email. Isn’t that ironic?

Keep one eye on your current work, but don’t forget to look ahead and see what’s coming, and where everyone in your path is going. If you look up and see no one, it’s too late.

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