Innovating in business

It’s no secret that businesses must innovate to grow. It takes strength to admit that something that worked in the past, no longer works today.

For those who are less agile, this is easier said than down, so choosing the right process for innovation is key.

For many businesses it is difficult to innovate from within either because of the lack of time, process, opportunity or simply because many businesses are consumed with doing what they do best, running their businesses. It can take courage to find the latest ideas and thinking and to source entrepreneurs who are leading the generation of innovation. There are some excellent young businesses evolving and there is also no doubt that innovation is becoming increasingly important to have access to.

The best framework for a company depends on its sector, size and needs. Developing a process for a very specific purpose is often quite hard to achieve so being open to a range of innovation is worth the pursuit. The process itself is not the best place to start, it is easier to have a clear end goal and the framework can be built around this. An organisation may be seeking to protect its existing market, moving into a new one of create a new offering and all of these can often include new labels and jargon.

Once a company has the willingness to find new ideas and test these within an experiment-style process, they must look to where they can source innovation. This is where EP is of value because of the long supported Entrepreneurs Club. This includes over 130 exciting entrepreneurs of various sizes – from start-ups to the more established and growing; from £0 turnover to £25m turnover level. They operate across all markets including digital technology, original food and drink products, fashion and clothing, hotel concepts, restaurants and food service. They bring new and essential innovation into the sector which can create change, improve services and create value for the customer journey.

It can be said that the future of the industry is being shaped by those taking on the new ideas, not those reacting to what is being thrust upon them. EP will continue to harness the potential of creativity by matching the new innovating companies with larger players, so value can be found on both sides.

Whether customer service or product development, innovating may drive growth and gain those vital edges over the competition.

A survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has shown that UK firms are concerned about lagging behind the global business community following the Brexit vote.

The survey of 800 businesses found that 70% plan to increase or maintain their spending levels on innovation following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

It is true that new solutions can increase productivity, the customer experience and allow for more effective competition in the market. Whether customer service or product development, innovating may drive growth and gain those vital edges over the competition.

EP therefore creates bespoke innovation centres on behalf of companies. These can introduce between five and ten new cutting edge ideas, concepts and technologies over a year. In addition to adding to the offer and potentially improving the customer journey, there is the opportunity for businesses to communicate their support of SME and entrepreneurial businesses and create change within the Hospitality industry through their own and also EP’s communication channels. By actively supporting entrepreneurial businesses, companies can support and enable real value and real change within their practices and within the industry as a whole. It is ideal for those who do not know where to start with innovation.

Companies involved in this process receive access to innovation and are also given recognition for their interest in it. There should be no limit as to where innovation comes from, but it is hard to find, so those who work with EP also receive access to:

  • Monthly Innovation Forums and Dragon’s Dens events which include priority access to new businesses.
  • Opportunities to trade with, invest in or acquire relevant entrepreneurial companies.
  • Introductory meetings of entrepreneurial businesses which corporates have expressed interest.

As the industry grows, more companies are moving away from heavy, complex processes because this slows innovation down. There will always be an argument that ideas can come from within a business but ideation shouldn’t be mistaken as innovation. It can be a long journey to create potential value from an idea. Therefore accessing innovation, from market sources, can solve problems or create solutions in a much quicker, easier format.

It is also important to note that putting everything into an idea and never getting actual innovation can be a troublesome road to travel. Exploring all the possible routes for innovation can improve the focus and process at the same time.

Some organisations will look to lead the market and adopt the latest ideas, others will listen to the market and take on board the companies as they begin to make an impact and a few will get left behind. It doesn’t have to be this way but since the 1960s innovation has been monitored and many now know it is needed for adding value. It is a well-known example but worth referencing again – Airbnb doesn’t own a single hotel, but is the world’s largest accommodation provider – its business model is based on a platform enabling people to share their own spaces. Their identity isn’t as a supplier but a creator of a specific service.