News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Business

November 17, 2013

BUSINESS CENTS: Open doors to drive innovation into business

I recently learned that General Electric built one of the first Research and Development Labs in 1900. Traditionally anything associated with R&D has been highly secretive, but as we continue to develop ideas, concepts, trends, practices and new products it is difficult to keep such devices private and withhold knowledge from consumers. The question then becomes how can a company remain competitive when all innovation in the industry is kept secret? Back in 2003, a book was written regarding opening the doors to innovation, “Open Innovation.” The book defined and coined the term but also provided basic principles necessary to business success.

1. Are You Stuck? If you find yourself stuck or in a business rut, consider sharing information with other parts of your company. Often new ideas are developed because management and leaders encourage employees to take ownership, become empowered and begin sharing ideas across the table. Part of the key is not to be upset for any idea suggested, keeping an open mind during the discovery phase of product and company growth suggestions.

2. Are you branding or developing a platform? For years, decades and maybe even a century you hear the buzz word … branding. What is branding? What is a platform? Consider a moment technology … What is an iPhone without the applications? The iPhone is the platform for the launching of the application. Consider projects you can co-create in order to increase your recognition and market share.

3. What if you have a new idea and are not sure if it will be viable? Ever heard of www.kickstarter.com? The site is a crowd funding site; it will validate your idea and maybe even assist in funding the company, short term at least, until you might be able to locate a venture capitalist. VC’s are used only when the stakes are high and there is a good potential for a rate of return.

4. Finally, open your company up, so to speak. Individuals who work with you and for you want to feel as though they are working for a purpose. Provide them one!

As you conclude reading this article be sure to keep an open mind; ultimately the decision is yours! Staying in touch with ideas, trends and remaining competitive will drive more revenue and market share to your company.

Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.

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