Create A Culture Of Innovation At Your Small Business

Innovation might not be at the top of the list of priorities when you are setting up a new small business. But considering what is happening in larger companies like Google, you might want to reconsider and move “innovation” on to the list of top priorities. Google is shifting the way that they do business and that shift can give small businesses ideas on how to modify their own business models.
Here are a few ideas on how you can create a culture of innovation at your small business.

Change your environment

This is probably the best place to start in creating a culture of innovation at your small business. Environment plays a huge role in promoting a culture of innovation. There are numerous firms out there that specialize in creating office environments that foster creativity. Take a look at Google’s office complex or the offices of advertising agency Chiat Day. If you haven’t yet received your invitation to tour either of those offices, you can take a look at photos of Google here and of Chiat Day here.

Now, Google and Chiat Day had a budget of millions to work with to invest in creating their space. But there are things that you can do within your own space that won’t break the bank. Consider ditching the beige and gray cubicle layout for something that reflects the values of your own brand. Make the environment more warm, more inviting and more fun. Small changes can have a big impact on moving toward creating your own culture of innovation within your small business.

 Search for the renegades

As we’ve previously covered in other articles, the success of your small business lies with the first ten people you bring on board. We’ve also discussed that the rebels out there can be instrumental in unleashing a whole culture of innovation for your small business. Be selective when it comes to bringing in the ones that are going to be the face of your business. And always be on the lookout for the ones that have the ability to shake things up from time to time and shed a new perspective on doing things.

Become friends with influential people

Another great way to create a culture of innovation in your small business is to become friendly with other like minded organisations. After all, two heads are better than one. But don’t stop there. Become friendly with some of the big players like there. Larger companies are always on the lookout for new innovative ideas and businesses that they can add to their portfolio. And one of those could be your small business. Many larger companies are partnering with small businesses to compensate for any areas where they might not be as strong. Be sure that the fit is mutually beneficial, and that way every party is happy. That should be a good incentive to set up your own culture of innovation within your small business. Happy innovating!

Building a Business vs. Instant Gratification

As human beings, it is in our nature to search for instant gratification. Perhaps it is what we in the developed world have grown accustomed to, but it seems as if around every corner offers are targeted to small business owners.
“Instantly build your business plan! Learn our secrets to success. Just pay me an extortionate amount of money and I’ll send you all of the leads you could possibly ever want”. Sure, it sounds good and we would like for it to be true. But just like those diet ads that promise that you can eat like a horse and still lose weight without diet or exercise, these offers just don’t work

There are no easy fixes when it comes to building a business. It takes an exorbitant amount of work. Trust me, I’ve been known to work seven days a week from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep.  When planning a business, it’s best that you the business owner write the first draft of the business plan. This way, the essential document will contain your vision and will be more in touch with how your business needs to operate. Then, bring in the experts, like us here at Un_Standard, to help refine those ideas into a clear and concise business strategy. There will be cost involved, but considering the amount of time that you the entrepreneur will invest in planning, and how valuable your time is (and that’s time diverted from actually implementing your business

So if you love what you do, after all, you are starting a business in this field and you should be passionate about it, then the process of business planning won’t feel like work. And the more preparation you do before you call in the experts can save time, money and undue stress. And this is as close to instant gratification as it comes.

Unleash the rebels in your small business

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Un_Standard is all about individuality. Our motto is to stand out by not blending in. And it takes a certain amount of rebelliousness in order to fully live by this manifesto. It’s good to shake things up from time to time. Those who disagree with the status quo can often see the future more clearly. And innovation is something that we are passionate about. After all, if there weren’t anyone around to challenge the status quo, we’d still be living in caves.

There are rebels among us in the small business world. And they are truly an asset to have. I’m not talking about the rebels without a cause or the ones that are willing to cross the line into being unproductive or doing anything illegal. But ones that can challenge the existing structure and propose a new and improved way to do things are the ones that we are talking about, and the ones to actively seek out for your small business.

Companies that fail to nurture creative opposition can find themselves behind the curve when it comes to innovation and remaining competitive. Rebels can serve as a catalyst for innovation. So when it comes time to make sone hires for your small business, be sure to be on the lookout for those agents of change. Those ones that are able to be creative and visionary enough to be able to shatter outdated policies and practices. Some larger organizations have even hired what they refer to as internal disruption units that can drive innovation. Just be sure to steer clear of management consultants that don’t fit the bill.

So what can you do as a small business to nurture this sort of rebel? There are a few things that you can do to make sure you give those rebels room to work their magic. Unleash the rebels in your small business to unlock their innovation and make your small business more competitive.

Create the right attitude for the organization

We’re not talking about forming committees or anything like that. We’re talking about tolerating those who might push against the status quo and let them feel as if there won’t be any fear of retaliation or discrimination. Factor in room for opposing voices when trying to launch new initiatives. Listen, and then learn.

Keep the opposition consistent

Many small business owners might read a book on inclusiveness and think that the best way to tackle resistance is to encourage participation. But opposition is ongoing, and should be welcomed and not tried to be silenced. Alignment is a moving target.

Creative opposition can raise the accountability of every employee within your organization. And your employees are your greatest asset. Make sure that your rebels have space to operate, feel like they are close and are immensely creative.

traits of a great leader

What Makes A Great Leader

Soar to the heights of a great leader

Not everyone is born to be an entrepreneur, or to lead. If we were all born to lead, then there would be nobody left to follow. But anyway, great leaders tend to have certain characteristics that set them apart from the herd. Personality traits, that can often times be misinterpreted as weaknesses, but when properly channeled can signify the spark of an entrepreneur.

Are you easily bored? Perhaps the reason for that is that you’ve chewed through activities that aren’t up to your abilities and don’t present themselves as a challenge. This is generally one of the indicators early in life that a budding entrepreneur is coming into their own. Great minds need to be challenged, and when a great mind is placed amongst those that don’t measure up, then boredom sets in.

Constantly questioning the status quo? Remember, the status quo is for the common folk. Who wants to be average when you can be exceptional? If you think that it doesn’t make sense to keep doing things the same way over and over just because that’s the way they’ve always been done without explanation, then you have the power to change things. Or at least upset the status quo from time to time. You don’t get ahead by following the pack. Greatness lies outside of the lines of conformity.

Do you realize that you’re a bit different from everyone else? This can be the motivation that you need to acknowledge the entrepreneur in you just dying to get out.  Rebelling against the norm is a normal pattern in your life. It’s good to channel that sense of rebellion into a company and start innovating.

Always trying to make improvements on everything around you? Opinionated and always willing to offer your perspective on things, you constantly see ways to make things better. Here’s a perfect opportunity to channel that spirit in developing a product that improves the lives of those around you. Or better yet, expand into improving the lives of people on the other side of the planet.

Can’t switch off at night? Do you lie in bed trying to get some seriously needed sleep, but can’t quite switch off and drift into blissful slumber? Do those voices keep telling you about the next great idea that you need to start to work on in the morning? There’s just too much energy to burn to switch off and relax.

Depending on how you look at it, any of those traits could be thought of as a weakness. And it’s important to understand where your weaknesses lie as an individual. Understanding weak areas is in fact a strength. You don’t always lead with your strengths, but with your weaknesses. Make those weaknesses benefit your leadership style, and then you’ll come across as authentic.  Get those people in around you to compliment  your strong areas and fill in the gaps of where you are weak, and then you have the start of building a winning team.

Set Your Small Business Up On A Fast Track For Success

Nobody said that starting your own business was going to be easy. You’re forced to face your limitations and accept that sometimes what looked great on paper can be not so great in real life. But establishing successes early on in the course of your startup can lead to even more success. It can be a huge morale boost, add credibility to what you are doing and encourage potential customers to check you out. But how do you set your small business up on a fast track for success?

It’s not difficult to get your small business on the fast track for success. With the right mind set and realistic expectations, your startup can flourish. Here’s a few ways to start the fast track for success for your small business.

Aim low

We all know that an entrepreneur is passionate about what they do. Otherwise, they’d do something else. Their little fledgling startup is going to change the course of humankind. And there is a possibility that it might just do that. And Oprah might just be calling you up to see if you’re free for lunch. But if your ambitions are lofty once out of the starting gate, even moderate successes won’t seem up to snuff. It’s best to take a pragmatic approach and set those goals at a realistic level so that you are able to recognize and appreciate the good in your startup.

Start small

Chances are that your startup won’t have offices in every corner of the earth. It would be nice, but it’s going to take a lot of startup capital. And if Warren Buffet isn’t your uncle, then it’s a good idea to scale those ambitions back and concentrate on your local market. Startup costs will be lower, operations costs will be lower, and you’ll have the chance to test your ideas out before taking them to a wider audience. If there’s a chance that things need to be tweaked, then you’ll have the chance to make those revisions. And that saves time and money in the long run.

Go for the easy targets

Sometimes, it’s best to go for those opportunities on our doorsteps. When planning for your startup, you would have already identified the easy targets. The ‘low hanging fruit’. Concentrate on getting results from the easy target, and that will give you the confidence to go after the progressively more elusive (but still relevant) targets.

Make friends

We here at Un_Standard are huge advocates of partnering up with other businesses. After all, two heads are better than one. See if there are any businesses out there that seem to be a natural fit and complimentary to your startup, and see if this new partnership can go after new clients/customers. If the fit is right, then everyone benefits. Time to dust off the Rolodex!

Beware The Energy Suckers

We’ve all encountered the energy sucker at some point in our lives. They’re the ones that seem to suck the life out of a room the moment they step through the door. They’re the ones that you feel as if you need to prepare yourself when you’re forced to interact with them. And they can be devastating to the life of your small business if you have one on your payroll.

It’s amazing just how many small business owners can be held captive by the energy suckers. These creatures can actually seem to be very productive on the surface. They can be the star salesman (or woman) on the team. But often times they achieve their numbers through mind games, creating an internal “us-versus-them” situation. And that can be detrimental to the life of a small business.

These energy vampires can drive away the talent that you actually need to run a successful small business. They chase away the talent that you need, and ironically you end up relying on them even more as your business progresses.

So why don’t you just get rid of the energy sucker? Often times, small business owners tend to rationalize their existence. Other times, they might be hard to identify. Here’s a few warning signs that a member of your team is actually an energy vampire and should be set free to haunt another small business. Preferably one of your competitors.

There’s always a problem

It doesn’t have to be the same problem each time. It can be different each time, but it seems as if you are spending a disproportionate amount of time on their issues compared to the rest of your team.

There seems to be a black cloud permanently hanging over their desk

There could be that one individual with that “us versus them” mentality that is slowly damaging the delicate fabric that stitches your organization together. They constantly bicker and complain, causing your employees to focus on the bad rather than the good.

They follow you home in your mind

There you are, trying to relax over the weekend. But you can’t because the image of your energy sucker keeps popping up in your mind.  You try to switch off, but it’s no use. When a difficult employee is haunting your personal life, it’s time for them to hit the road.

Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts when it comes to setting your energy sucker free. Your gut instinct will tell you that it’s time for this person to go.  You’ll know the difference between those employees that are just having a bad day to those energy suckers. Your business will thank you for it in the long run.

entrepreneurial advice

Some Good Entrepreneurial Advice

Stepping away from the security of a corporate job to set up a small business is not an easy task. Some things seem to fall into place, but often times things don’t always go as planned. Nobody ever said that it was going to be easy. But it can be one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have. Here’s some good entrepreneurial advice to those who have set up their own small businesses.

It’s going to take longer than you think

Running a small business is certainly not for the faint of heart. Everywhere you turn it seems as if there is another overnight success. Business coaches tout their multi-million dollar businesses that they started in their kitchen and claim to spend about 5 hours of work on. In reality, they neglect to mention the years and years of blood, sweat and tears that it took to achieve a certain level of success. Building a company takes years. It causes grey hairs. And it brings up a whole lot of self doubt.

Perseverance is the name of the game when it comes to starting and running a small business. It’s a rare trait that entrepreneurs possess. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought that I’ve run into a brick wall, exhausted all of my options and run myself into the ground. I’ve shelved my business idea a couple of times only to pick it back up, dust it off, make some adjustments and then start to run with it. If you truly are an entrepreneur, then everything will eventually fall into place. It’s like the old saying goes, every “no” that you hear brings you that much closer to a “yes”.

It’s lonely going at it all by yourself

Bringing people on board is a great thing. Their strengths can fill in the gaps of your weaknesses and helps to keep things going when the going gets tough. But it’s critical to bring the right people on board. Getting the mix wrong can have a devastating effect on your small business. A close friend can be a great place to look. But make sure that you both share a common vision, have common goals, have a good working relationship and are both willing to give it a go. You’re going to be spending more time with this person than you will with your own family, so make sure you select wisely.

Keep it simple

It’s easy to reach for the stars as an entrepreneur. It’s not hard to get swept up in the rapture of how your business idea is going to change the world. Your mind seems to go a mile a minute. The problem is when you encounter a mere mortal (i.e., everybody else) and try to communicate. You don’t speak the same language. Don’t expect the mere mortal to be as excited about the details of your idea as you are. Remember one thing. Keep it simple so that your audience gets it.

And be sure to hold on to that simplicity. Make sure that it is present in every aspect of your company. Keep your marketing simple. Simple enough so that your customers understand exactly what your business is all about. Make sure that your business planing is simple. How does the business make money? Make sure that your products are simple. Keeping things simple will multiply your businesses chances of success.