Don’t waste your time trying to come up with the next big idea.
That sounds like terrible advice for an entrepreneur, but context is everything. While Uber, Airbnb, and other startups have pursued strategies to disrupt entire industries, your goals may be far different. Innovation can come in all shapes and sizes, and your benchmarks for growth may not require reinventing the wheel…or public transportation.
Even in traditional industries, there are ways to employ new strategies and veer outside the tried-and-true norms. Here are some ideas to spark your own innovation:
Form an alliance. The journey to the top doesn’t have to be traveled alone: seek out win-win relationships through collaboration with other businesses like yours. Share trade-show space, marketing efforts, referrals, and promotional efforts. You may learn new business strategies while picking up some new clients.
Live chat. Not everyone likes to use the phone or call a help line. For those customers who are less inclined to talk directly with customer service, consider incorporating live chat into your online platforms. Customers can have their questions answered, problems fixed, and feel more comfortable with making a purchase.
Hear and respond to feedback. Responding to negative online reviews is critical to both maintain your reputation and address mistakes that may have been made. But customers who take time to leave positive feedback online deserve your time, as well. All feedback is an opportunity for engagement. When customers come to you to share their thoughts, reward them with thoughtful responses.
Make it mobile. Many small businesses lack any website at all, and they certainly don’t have a site that is mobile-friendly. Get ahead of the game and make sure your website is optimized to look its best on mobile devices. If you don’t what responsive web design is, find a professional who does.
Give back. Toms got lots of press for their charitable donations of shoes but found success by providing products that customers loved. You can do the same by partnering with local not-for-profits to help your community. You’ll meet potential customers, get your name out there, and create opportunities to showcase the great work that you do.
Lasting business success is a marathon, not a sprint. Growth won’t happen immediately, but it certainly won’t if you don’t try new things. You don’t have to be the next Uber; you should just try to be the better version of you.