Innovation has proven to be a crucial component to success in business. Businesses that embrace new technologies, nurture their employees, and are faster at making decisions have throughout history been more likely to survive and thrive. However, this agility can often be easier to achieve in smaller or newer businesses than large established organisations.
Innovation is needed to solve the sustainability and social challenges of our time, and big businesses are often the ones with the budgets and tools to make a real impact. But, lengthy processes, multiple stakeholders, and risk aversion can make big businesses slow and resistant to change.
While it’s naturally easier for startups to be agile, there are pathways for corporates to embrace the SME mentality and make innovation part of their everyday. In this blog post, we share three key learnings corporate innovations can take from smaller businesses to get to change quicker.
1. Do Not Fear Failure
Taking big risks in business can seem like a daunting prospect, but if they pay off, the rewards can be huge. It can be easier for startups to take bigger chances, and their hunger to succeed drives them to make game-changing decisions. Corporates who aren’t afraid to be bold can see rewards both in profit and in their team.
Cultivating an innovative and creative culture within your company will inspire your team and help them to feel valued. By nurturing ideas and allowing employees to take risks, you will find you have a more galvanised and motivated team. Champion trying new tactics rather than always following the same old formula, and you’ll see changes in your culture.
2. Get Close to Your Customer
Another benefit SMEs have over large corporates is that they have a shorter path between decision makers and the customer. Insights from the end user can be more easily accessed and actioned upon. In bigger businesses however, those that speak to the customers are rarely involved in the business strategy.
To break the barriers between the business and customer, authenticity and closeness can be your friend. By becoming closer to your customers, you can learn from them what they want from your business, and these findings can be fed back to decision-makers. 96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand, and making customer service an easy and friendly process will boost productivity, drive profit, and give you a pool of customer insights to access.
3. Streamline Decision Making
Corporates with shareholders, executive teams, and thousands of customers aren’t built to take big risks. But failing to embrace change can lead to slow progress or stagnation, causing many to be left behind by newer and more innovative competitors.
Shedding the deadweight in all areas of your business will improve its efficacy. Startups are always looking for ways to make things more cost-effective or efficient simply because time and money are less abundant. One major advantage SMEs have over corporates is the ability to make quick decisions.
Awaiting sign-off on multiple people slows you down, so don’t be afraid to cut down to the core of who really needs to feed in. Not being bogged down by a chain of decision-makers means that businesses can enact change and adapt in real-time to trends and cultural shifts, helping your company stay relevant and keep up with competitors.
Of course, cutting down processes and chains of command isn’t going to be simple for every business. Those responsible for bringing innovation into the organisation will need to first make the business case to leadership. If you need a helping hand in proving the benefit of innovation, reach out to our corporate innovation experts – we can help!
Why Corporates Should Consider Connecting With Startups
There are many ways for corporates to approach innovation without having to entirely change their organisation or start afresh.
The process of open innovation allows startups to do what they do best – innovate. Through open innovation, corporate businesses can connect with startups and drive collaboration to help with diverse thinking, agile methodologies and access to talent.
In doing so, corporates can adopt and scale necessary innovations at speed, while building an exciting culture of innovation within the organisation.
Plus X is home to an expert corporate innovation team that can help big companies embrace an agile outlook, bringing new ways to think about and implement innovation in house. In addition, the Better World Collective was created to fast-track sustainable change by creating partnerships between corporates and innovative small businesses.
If large, corporate companies adopted agile and creative approaches from startups and SMEs, they would move more quickly, and see huge returns. Corporate innovation is not only possible, but essential if these businesses want to continue to compete in a changing world.