Busting innovation myths

Innovation is an age-old process, but this year its profile has increased tenfold, with businesses of all sizes and industries of all types across Australia looking to it as the answer to their post-pandemic recovery. While the drive and need for innovation is undeniable, it’s a very broad term with a definition that can vary.

For small-business owners who associate the term innovation with the likes of global movers and shakers such as Google and Tesla, it can be daunting. But it’s crucial that the term is looked at as more of a concept as opposed to one major outcome or groundbreaking invention. Innovation should be seen as taking the steps necessary to streamline your business and finding ways to make things simpler for you, for your colleagues and for your customers.

No matter the size, any business can and should be on the lookout for ways to innovate. The key is to not be daunted. Here are a few common innovation myths, and how they can be overcome.

Myth: Innovation is a result of high budgets and global connections

A common misconception about innovative organisations is that the swift transformations are limited to large organisations with hefty budgets and global connections.

But size and budget aren’t the only factors, nor are they by any means a requirement. You don’t have to be a global enterprise to run an innovative business, and any size or type of business can implement simple innovations. If you’re constantly finding new ways to ease an internal process, you’re innovating already.

As a rule of thumb, pay attention to your employee and customer needs, and be on the lookout for updated processes that will save time and money. For example, try updating your legacy reporting system and transition to using one platform to streamline multiple processes, from invoicing to CRM. You’d be surprised at how simple tweaks can help you run a much smoother operation.

Myth: An innovation is a groundbreaking invention

Innovation is not dependent on creating something groundbreaking. Instead, it can be as simple as using existing technology to help make your business nimble, adaptable and able to shift with new trends. With the right tools, you can function as efficiently as a large enterprise without having to employ many people. One of the beauties of growing a small business in this decade is the countless tools already available to help us run our businesses in a groundbreaking way – without completely starting from scratch. Research how you can better serve your customers and adopt smart tools to help you achieve exactly that.

Myth: Innovation requires extensive technical knowledge and experience

Innovation comes in many forms and it’s exclusive to what each business wants to achieve and how. There’s no requirement for engineering degrees or years of experience. Passion for your business alone can be the driver to running a well-organised business. Rely on other experts to assist with your business changes. Between podcasts, leadership panels and industry meetups, you’ll find trusted ways of shaking things up for the better, without having to worry about the trial and error process yourself. Pay attention to the platforms other people in your industry are using and how it’s changed their business for the better.

Despite the struggles of this year, we live in an era where businesses are able to draw on countless resources and technologies of varying investment to innovate and grow. Small-business owners should look at innovation as less about creating the next Tesla, and more about streamlining their systems to deliver better products and services to their customers. Start thinking about doing something better, rather than doing something new.

Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer, Zoho