Every small business needs to think about innovation and how it can drive profit in their business
It seems obvious when you say it, but if there’s a better way to do something, you need to try it.
Otherwise your competitors will get ahead of you, and possibly even leave you far behind.
So think about it, what can you change up to increase the performance of your business today?
Sometimes it’s not entirely obvious there may be a better way to do something, so you have to be aware enough of your surroundings to find ideas worth borrowing.
And then brave enough to implement them.
I like the story from the First Gulf War
Iraqi troops were setting fire to oil-wells as they retreated, and creating an environmental disaster which would take years to get under control.
The Americans called on the expertise of Red Adair, someone with over 40 years experience in putting out oil well fires, to come over with his teams and start to extinguish them.
Each well had to be exploded, and capped in that brief period of time when there was no oxygen present to feed the flames.
This was an activity which took a long time and was very dangerous.
You would struggle for the team to cap one well per day, and of course playing with explosives near a fire was extremely risky.
Then along came the Russians with some advice.
They couldn’t believe the dangers these fire fighters were prepared to face to put out the flames.
And they showed the Americans how they did it.
You just strapped a jet engine on the front of an 80 tonne tank and drove right up to the fire, blowing the flames out.
Now of course this was a game changer.
They went from capping one well every 2 days, to doing 4 or 5 a day.
And that’s innovation
Combining some ideas or approaches from another context, and combining them in a way that adds enormous value to the customer.
So the question becomes, how can you encourage innovation and keep improving your bottom line in your trade business.
And there are plenty of ways, let me tell you.
- An online quoting tool which cuts the time it takes to quote a job in half, or better.
- A job scheduling system which automatically sends an SMS to let your next customer know you’re on the way.
- A jetter with a higher pressure pump or special head which is twice as fast as the norm.
- A receipt management system which eliminates the need to keep your paper records.
- A group SMS tool which allows you to send team messages for free.
- An automated way for clients to engage with your business, and take care of much of the admin stuff automatically.
Well here’s the thing.
These tools already exist, and many business owners are using them.
They are benefitting from innovation, just as you should be. And it doesn’t have to be complex or high tech.
I love the urban myth about the U.S. space program
where they allegedly spent millions of dollars on a project to develop a ball-point pen that worked in the zero-gravity environment of space.
Years later after the iron curtain had come down, scientists from Russia and America were discussing some of the challenges they’d had to overcome in their quest to be the first to the moon.
The discussion turned to the amazing “space-pen”, developed by the Americans; it worked in any position, even environments as harsh as outer space.
They asked the Russians how they’d solved the problem, and the response was “We used a pencil”.
That’s innovation; applying a simple solution to a complex problem.
So if you want to improve your bottom line and be a leader in your field, just ask yourself the question.
How can I innovate the way we do business to improve the bottom line.
At the end of the day, you want to be the leader in new and innovative ways to deliver your customers value.