Innovation and adaptation in the new economic landscape
September 26, 2011
It's human nature: Habits are addictive. Truly original ideas - be they for a new product, business or method of operation - stem from the ability to reassess what's working and what's not. It takes approaching a problem or concern with an objective lens and leveraging the voice of other parties to complement your vision. This is innovation.
Over the past few years, as the global economy tanked and the once engine of prosperity, small businesses grew stagnant, cut hiring and reeled in their budgets. This is detrimental to entrepreneurship and innovation and serves to prolong economic woes - not just in the U.S., but worldwide.
"I like my people to spend time just imagining the future. Not useless dreaming exactly, but constructive thoughts," Merisant CEO Paul Block told Inc. magazine. "I tell them to think about what the office would be like if someone teleported them 20 years ahead. What products do we make? What markets are we in? Anyone can extract inspiration this way."
Of course, it takes a lot to pull oneself out of a comforting mindset. Change, however poetic, is not easily achieved. Especially in a down economy, business owners have a scapegoat: the down economy. They convince themselves that their problems are market-based and that all they can do is wait out the storm. It's true that a bad market makes conditions worse, but that's no excuse to toil away at the same tired efforts. You need to evolve, adapt to the new environment and distinguish your services from the competition.
"Every day, it seems, there is another crisis," points out business owner Jay Goltz for The New York Times. "But if your business is stable, and your debt is under control, and you can afford to take some calculated risks, this might be the time to get out of the bunker and try to get ahead of the pack."
This may mean redesigning your website, expanding your real estate holdings, modifying your pricing strategy, vetting new suppliers, altering your marketing initiatives or even developing a new product. The key is to keep moving and apply what works toward this new economic reality. The only way to survive is to adapt.