When you’re running your business day in and day out, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. So it’s a crucial skill to be able to keep one eye firmly on the present while the other is looking forward to what may lie ahead. At MOO, we’ve just turned 10 and we’ve learned that if we want to continue being successful, we need to focus on what’s ahead and continue to innovate.
When we launched 10 years ago, we only sold one product, our Mini-Cards. Since then, we’ve added many products, papers and accessories to meet our customers’ demands. And while some were natural segues others were the result of our team’s focus on innovation.
So, how do we do this?
Listen to customers
This is probably my most important piece of advice. Always listen to your customers; they’re your biggest supporters, critics and sounding boards.You don’t need to jump at each negative comment but do try to take repeated feedback to heart. Chances are, they might have identified an opportunity for improvement that could lead to bigger things.
Bring on the right partner
Often our ideas are beyond our abilities. That does not mean we should not pursue them, just that we need to find the right partner to make it happen. When we first decided to bring back cotton rag paper, a papermaking technique that goes back hundreds of years, we knew we could not do it alone. We reached out to our long-time collaborators, Mohawks Fine Papers, and they helped us make it happen.
Be true to yourself
Innovation for the sake of it will not stand up in the long run. The key is to focus on your customers and your brand. Making sure we concentrate our efforts on innovation that benefits our customers and enhances our brand is a mainstay of our strategy. It also helps guide your thinking, making success more attainable.
Do your research
When bringing a brand new product to market, it is important to do thorough competitor research. Is something similar already available on the market? If so, can you do it better? Make it more affordable? Before launching our Cotton paper, we knew we weren’t the first to do this. After all, cotton has been used for hundreds of years to make premium paper, and is still in use nowadays for fine arts, legal documents and currency. But we took a very different spin on it by making it out of T-shirt offcuts – the cotton scraps left after cutting the pattern of a T-shirt – making it 100 per cent recycled.
Last but not least, you will need to stretch yourself. No innovation results from playing things safe. Allow yourself to take risks and even to fail sometimes as the opportunity lies just ahead.
Toby Hextall, Head of Product Design, MOO