Innovation is now key to business survival, make no mistake about it. If you are not re-inventing, developing new ideas and / or making changes in your business to hold onto existing customers or bring in new customers, business will decline for sure and you may just get left behind. This innovation concept is not done just by the business owner, directors, managers or supervisors (management team), it is primarily done by the business’s frontline staff. In fact, for it to be most effective, it is done only by the frontline staff who report back to the business management team with ideas and implementation costs. These costs by the way are intended to be low i.e. low spend / high return. How does a small business formally introduce the concept of innovation amongst their staff and then keep it there forever?
- Invest in training
- Involve frontline / customer facing staff
Invest in training
The first business item / agenda to go or at least be affected by recession is the training budget. It is seen as a non-business survival expense in tough times and can be cut drastically. In many business’s minds and opinion, training is carried out when the business is going well and there is surplus money to spend on developing staff. This as you know is correct and right, but when business is tough, something has to give, somethings have to be cut back upon and usually training is usually a first point of preference. But, you also know that by not investing in staff training, learning and development can be detrimental to your business, not to mention to your staff’s moral, personal development and overall motivation in the business. You invest in them and they will invest in you!
Involve frontline / customer facing staff
When it comes down to making business decisions on how to increase footfall, increase turnover and get more back in the black (or more out of the red), many businesses bring their management team around the table and knock their heads together on how to make things better forcing them to come up with new ideas, new concepts to sell more products / services. Rarely, if any time, do they bring their frontline / customer facing staff to the table. ‘’They have to serve the customer, they can’t leave their workstation, they are not supposed to be involved in management decisions’’, is the common unspoken opinion. You now need to change your attitude to change their attitude!
When you do introduce a formal innovation concept(s) into your business, that period of training and idea development is really exciting. Staff get really into the business as together they start brainstorming, developing and implementing ideas that will ultimately effect the bottom line. But, you must introduce it as a formal part of the business, keeping going and following up. Job satisfaction will most definitely be increased, moral will go through the roof and customers will see a difference in front facing staff and a change in the business as a whole. The formal involvement of your front facing staff in your business will yield dividends both tangibly and intangibly. Innovation is like oil for your car, you have to keep changing it to keep it running!