3 places to look to find your next business innovation

Charles Darwin is best known for his study of evolution. To paraphrase his theories, creatures that failed to adapt to changing environments ultimately became extinct. Those who changed essential parts of themselves to suit their new environments are the ones who continued to thrive and reproduce.

The same can be said of the business world. Businesses that fail to adapt and innovate are the ones that ultimately fail, while the most innovative businesses are the ones that rise to success. Too many business owners become set in their current business models or the current configuration of their products and fail to seek out new innovations. If it’s been a while since you’ve launched any new innovations, you may not be sure where to look for your next big idea. Try out these three ideas to help you get started.

Your customers

The people using your products or services are the ones who know best what improvements need to be made. They’re on the front lines of your distribution, giving them a firsthand perspective at how things work (or don’t work) to meet their needs. If there is a problem in your delivery method, a shortcoming in the product you’re offering, or just another feature that they’d like to see added, they will more than likely be glad to tell you their opinions.

While general client surveys may generate some innovative ideas, more often than not, you’ll want to put together a targeted campaign to ask for their ideas and opinions on how you can improve. You can create these campaigns and collect the data using innovation management software, and promote the campaign through your social media channels. Offer rewards and incentives, like a discount for participating, or a prize for either a random participant or one whose ideas you liked best. With the proper tools and promotion techniques, you can get a lot of responses, and may just find the next big idea for your business.

Your employees

Your employees are right there in the trenches of your business, keeping things running on a day-to-day basis. They offer a unique perspective in that they can provide you with innovative ideas on not only your product or service, but on other aspects of your business like workflow, interoffice communication, and even your sales channels. Innovation doesn’t just refer to big changes to what you’re selling, it can be the way that you sell it and run your business too.

So always have an open channel for employees to offer innovative ideas. An online system where they can submit recommendations for any kind of improvement will allow them to share their ideas quickly and easily. But don’t just let those ideas go into a pile that’s never looked at. Be sure to actually consider your employees’ ideas, and always follow up—whether you use their idea or not. Letting your employees know that you appreciate their ideas and their efforts can go a long way towards improving employee engagement and satisfaction.

Your competitors

You might not be able to poll your competitors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look to them for some innovative ideas. In fact, it’s a good idea to always keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, and see if they come up with any industry-shaking innovations. If they do, then you need to jump on board quick, before you’re driven out of business.

Of course, you don’t want to copycat your competitors all the time. Stay up with what they’re doing, but make sure you’re always searching for new innovations of your own, using your customers and your employees as your go-to source for ideas.