Creating an Innovation Focused Environment for Startups
Today’s startup world heavily relies on innovation for growth since constant competition exists for who will come up with the next big service or product. Businesses that prioritize and spare the most of their resources to find new technologies and satisfy the evolving needs of clients and users are the ones that manage to separate themselves from the competition.
Although it is clear that innovation is key to success, it’s easier said than done. Companies and startups constantly struggle to innovate, yet many are disappointed with the results. To achieve their desired results, they try to come up with solutions such as increasing the research and development budget, running creativity workshops, and implementing digital idea management tools. Yet, with limited budgets and resources, it’s hard for startups to combat innovation challenges. In this article, we will explore some of the biggest challenges in front of innovation and solutions.
Innovation after Covid-19
Adaptation and transformation are a primarily uphill battle, which was the case for many companies during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced every aspect of life to adapt, from how people work to how organizations function. As a new addition to the challenges companies faces in innovation, COVID-19 shifted how the world performed entirely. It pushed companies to take drastic measures and change their priority list, such as cutting costs and maximizing efficiency. However, these adaptations paralyzed organizations and forced them to use their precious time and energy to develop new products and services, thus increasing the need for innovation.
Many startups and businesses struggled to grow as the new normal brought different challenges. Here is a quick recap of the significant problems in the aftermath of Covid-19.
- An uncertain landscape
- Need for exploring alternative channels
- A need for localized partnerships
- Adapting to the new landscape
- Creating a scalable talent ecosystem
- Planning for the future
Internal Challenges of Innovation
The new normal and Covid-19 are not the only things that stand in the way of innovation for most startups. Innovation has never been like a piece of cake. Even though you create the right circumstances for your company and thrive with new ideas, there are things you can’t control. Here are some of them:
- Employees aren’t motivated enough.
- No clear innovation strategy
- It is centralized into one functional group.
- Lack of collaboration
- Lack of diversity
- You are mismeasuring innovation.
Innovation alone is not enough. You need to apply it intelligently and be able to offer real value to your customers. There are three characteristics of innovation
- From the customer’s point of view, innovation needs to result in something new.
- However, innovations don’t necessary involves incorporating new ideas. Value can be created through different non-technical ways, such as designing a unique customer experience.
- Innovation needs to have a commercial value and yield some benefit.
Yet every problem comes with a solution or two. Let’s explore some of them.
How to Build an Innovative Startup Environment
In overcoming challenges, you need to be aware of them and shouldn’t be afraid to explore deeply. As with most problems in life, acknowledge them before coming up with a strategy. The fun part is that you don’t have to do it alone. Talk with your team and ask for their help. Spare a day if you need to, brainstorm ideas, and assign tasks to each member. Working together to overcome your challenges will help you strengthen your relationships and lead your team members to be more confident in shaping the future with their ideas.
Change what doesn't work
This framework is great because you can do it alone or with your team. Just select an existing idea or well-known service and digest its problems. Try to pinpoint what can be improved. If any new functions can be added, try to come up with ideas on how.
Make things easier for customers
This one can be a little tricky. It requires you to be in a certain degree of abstraction. It’s about finding fresh ways of serving your customers. The goal is always thinking about how you can make things easier for your customers when they use your services and in their daily lives. Start from scratch and search deep into your imagination. Find beauty in simplicity.
Make innovation inclusive
Innovation is beyond titles and hierarchy. To create a safe environment in your team for innovations, please encourage them to leave their title at the door. From junior team members to senior, everyone has the potential to come up with the next big idea. Create an ego-free environment where ranks don’t affect the confidence of your team members.
Chasing new ideas can be pretty intimidating. Encourage your employees to play around with new ideas without fear of failure or a backlash. Teach them that there is nothing wrong with a bit of disappointment. They are merely opportunities to learn and grow for the future. Support mini experiments in the workplace and let them chase their ideas even if they believe there is a chance it might not work.