PrintPlace Small Business Blog
Digging around and looking at some interesting start-up statistics, you would find out—among other things—that around 90% of new products are actually doomed to failure. Of these thousands of hopefuls you could probably fill an entire book with all of the reasons for their shortcomings, but you can easily sum up one of the problems that stops many start-ups in their tracks: misunderstanding innovation or to be more specific, social innovation.
To clear things up, social innovation is not, point for point, exactly the same as starting up a new company. In a lot of aspects, however, they are so closely intertwined that succeeding in social innovation pretty much means you may have a successful start-up in your hands. Understanding the differences, such as the fact that social innovation may actually be non-profit, will help a business owner get to where he wants to be with serving his intended customers.
Are we really being innovative? Ask yourself this question. Unsurprisingly, many people are quick to label their work as “innovative” when in fact it’s most likely the same thing all over again, just packaged differently with a new name. You can look through this list of the world’s most innovative companies, and you can see for yourself how you rank in terms of innovation. One quick tip: innovation doesn’t necessarily mean creating something entirely from scratch; oftentimes, all of the elements are already there, and it’s just a matter of putting things together.
Another big part of innovation is looking forward to the future and seeing which direction you want to head towards. For example, some people assert that social innovation is reorienting towards the developing economies of Eastern and Southern countries, and businessmen should follow this trend. In other words, restructuring your products to cater to the emerging economies should make for a good decision in the near future.
Get bigger. With a winning idea in your pocket, you are eventually going to reach a point where your boundaries get strained and the only answer is to push outwards. This is all about scalability, which may seem like a simple concept but is governed by one truth: scaling a business is hard. Chances are, your innovation is able to solve problems in the small scale, and it is ideally no different in a larger scale as long as you are systematic with your approach.
One thing you can do is to take notes from businesses that have come before you and see the steps they took into scaling up. However, don’t forget that their business is not the same as yours, and it is therefore not a good idea to copy every strategy and decision that they made. One man’s success can very well be your failure so create your own business path and make choices based on what you think would be best for your company.
Customers have ideas too. At every step of the way, from the moment you get an idea to the time you carry it out, there is no reason why you shouldn’t hear out what customers have to say. They are the ones who have the needs and thus have the knowledge that you can use in creating social innovations for these needs. Ultimately, something that you co-create with customers will be loads more successful than something you did all on your own.
The reason why many businesses do not involve customers in the creative process is simple: habit. People have gotten used to a business handling everything, with only the occasional comment now and again. As it is, though, customers can be very creative and can offer you something which you cannot achieve on your own, and that is a whole different point of view, a perspective seen from another person’s eyes. This strategy is definitely a win-win situation, all things considered.
Social innovation is a fundamentally easy concept to understand but not that easy to implement. But if you manage to wrap your head around this you’d eventually find yourself with a business start-up to be proud of.