A good portion of my day is spent working with small businesses, especially bricks and mortar stores, on how to compete and stay ahead of the curve in a time when change is so rapid. But there is a lot of resistance to being the first to jump off the cliff and try something new.
In fact, today I spoke to a small business owner who said they not only would never lead from the front or even behind. They just want to follow from behind and wait until something becomes mainstream to latch on to it.
Well, at least he was honest about it. But this is exactly why so many businesses risk becoming irrelevant or losing business to the innovation pioneers who know that in order to stay ahead of the competition you have to take some risks.
Risk is scary. But it doesn’t have to be. As an innovation keynote speaker I try to get companies to at least take baby steps and try incremental innovation. You don’t have to invest a ton of time or money to be innovative.
A friend in the food manufacturing business recently told me a story about how they were able to save tens of thousands of dollars every year from a tiny drop of soup. A factory worker noticed that this tiny drop of liquid ending up being wasted because it missed the can on the conveyer belt.
One person might have looked at it as just being a nuisance, but this astute worker realized that one tiny drop multiplied hundreds of thousands of times meant lost money.
So they brainstormed different ways to change it without having to spend a fortune buying new equipment. By looking at it from multiple directions, they finally figured out that it was as simple as just shaving down one small piece on the machine so the dripping would stop.
This small incremental innovation solution saved the company a lot of money and earned a bonus for the worker. It’s these small changes that can be made in all businesses that can add up to improvement in their bottom line.