June 2015

Good Innovation Management Is Key to the Success of a Small Business

No matter what size your business is, you must focus on innovation. Yet, too many still think that innovation is just about applying research and development or new technologies. In fact, however, it is about far more than that. It is about thinking outside of the box, being more cost efficient and really staying ahead of the competition.

Businessman sketching on a glass a success graph

Businessman sketching on a glass a success graph

A Definition of Innovation

Innovation for business was first defined in 1985 by Drucker. It was stated then that it was a method for entrepreneurs to find new resources for the production of wealth, or for changing the way existing resources are used in order to create more wealth. This basically means that a business, through innovation process management, implements various changes in order for them to become more competitive in the market, rivaling their competition. Furthermore, the goal is for these innovations to increase their profitability and/or efficiency. Before starting on the process of innovation, however, businesses need to be able to access new information and understand how this can be turned into knowledge. They must also be able to create resources and procedures that allow them to actually apply this new found knowledge.

As such, innovation is actually a process that can be felt throughout every element of the organization. It is not possible to change one element and simply hope that nothing else changes. Thanks to innovation, an entire organization will go through changes. This includes operations, human resources, sales, accounts and every other element of the business itself. It is for this reason that so many struggle with the implementation of innovative practice, as it requires a new company culture that is open to creativity and communication.

Six Stages of Innovation

Innovation goes through six clear stages:

  1. The definition of the strategic intent.
  2. Looking for pathways and ideas.
  3. Mapping the process of development.
  4. Applying the various decision-making processes.
  5. Implementing the actual decision.
  6. Reviewing the process in order to learn and continue.

In most cases, innovation is limited to the commitment of the business manager. In many cases, innovation is something that accidentally happens. However, if it is actually done formally, the success a business can have as a result can be phenomenal.

Implementing Innovation

So how can you make sure innovation becomes part of your strategy? It should start by making sure everybody knows what innovation is and why it is so important to the future success of the organization itself. This can be done by bringing in an external consultant, or by offering innovation training. Others improve their networking contacts by speaking to businesses that already are innovative and learning from them. Networking in itself is already a highly innovative idea, particularly because many businesses still feel that speaking with the competition is like sharing trade secrets. Implementing a culture of innovation can be hard work, but if there is a commitment from leadership and management, the results can be tremendous.

Should You Use Kickstarter for Your Business?

A lot of entrepreneurs feel that the answer to their financial prayers lies with Kickstarter. Unfortunately, while you may have seen a lot of people succeed on a crowdfunding site, the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor. Those success stories are the exception, not the rule. With so much competition out there, how do you know if Kickstarter is the right option for you?

The Truth About Kickstarter

On average, a Kickstarter project will raise approximately $7,800. Projects that are striving to earn under $10,000 only have a success rate of 29 percent. Projects that are successful raise between $20,000 and $100,000, but that’s just 4 percent of the projects that are launched. Projects that reach a goal of over $100,000 make up less than 1 percent of Kickstarter projects. Fifty-five percent of projects never meet their goals; 11 percent never get even one backer.

The Price of Kickstarter

Kickstarter’s fee is 5 percent of your earnings. Amazon charges between 3 and 5 percent for credit card processing. In order to get the most out of your campaign, you’ll need a quality video, which can cost you between $5,000 and $50,000 from a professional. When you offer rewards and profits to your backers, that will cut into your earnings, too. Then, you may need to spend money on shipping, marketing services, content production, and other activities.

Not Being Able to Deliver

A mere 25 percent of Kickstarter projects actually deliver on their promise on time. This can push away potential customers before you’ve even got your business off the ground. When you turn off your backers and fans, you’ve lost customers before they’ve had a chance to use your product. Often, pre-sales aren’t even in the beta stage yet, which means it could be an awfully long time before the product makes it to the customer. This creates negative experiences for customers and, in turn, businesses. Plus, since so many Kickstarter projects aren’t delivering on time, the entire platform is suffering because backers no longer trust the process.

Is Kickstarter Worth the Risk?

Assuming you get the funding you need, will you be able to deliver on your promise? If you’re not 100 percent certain you can, is it worth the risk? There’s a very short window of time to make a first impression. If you can’t get your first interactions right, you could lose a strong customer base for good.

Also, if your incentive to get people to back you is a reduced price on your product, this confuses its real value. If your product is usually $200, but you’re willing to sell it for $100 during the pre-sale period, why would anyone ever think it’s worth $200? To some professionals, this is a cheap way to launch a business.

To make Kickstarter work for you, decide if a pre-sale is absolutely necessary. If it is, be completely transparent and factor in a lot of extra time to your shipping date. Talk to your backers as though they’re investors, because in a way, they are. Communicate regularly with your backers and be clear with them; set realistic expectations.

Create a budget for your pre-launch, launch, and post-launch needs. It’s a good idea to also create an off-Kickstarter experience. You don’t want to narrow your audience to only people on Kickstarter. You can start to create buzz with a blog and social media profiles, too.

Becoming an overnight business success is extremely uncommon. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to raise money for your business, just that crowdfunding may not be the best way to spend your time and effort. To get inspired by others who have seriously made it in the financial industry, check out Peter Briger’s resume.

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