innovate-stay-relevant
Grow incrementally by innovating in your areas of expertise or instigate a huge change through investment.

Is your company resistant to change? Are your staff failing to innovate? Or is your online offer failing to keep up with the competition?

It’s very simple: if you don’t keep on evolving, your business, services and products will soon become irrelevant. Here’s how to avoid dying out.

In every business, there can be a healthy amount of resistance to change because you’re figuring out all the variables. But at the same time, seeing consistent results can mean you run the risk of your company’s flexibility and ability to be agile decreasing, because you’re not necessarily thinking about future hurdles or anticipating trends.

Fred Schebesta is the cofounder and director of comparison website Finder.com.au, as well as a blogger and media commentator and, having recently launched his business in the US, he knows a lot about what it takes to ensure your company continues to enjoy sustainable growth.

He believes “every business has a slow decay of relevance” and discussed what it takes to become a fast-growing business at the recent SmartCompany Smart50 Awards night held in Melbourne.

He uses the example of a technology company where it is increasingly obvious the coding needs updating in order to respond to new needs and demands within the marketplace. As you notice everyone’s requests starting to pile up, Schebesta says it’s easy as a SMB to assume that so many requests can’t be dealt with because the core is fixed and therefore the code can’t be changed.

But this means your business is limited, so how do you kick-start that growth again?

1. Work on your mindset: do you want to succeed?

Your ability to change and adapt to change determines your growth, says Schebesta: “Don’t change what isn’t broken. Let it grow and improve, but in the meantime your mindset and attitude has to change across your team.”

2. Remember: you’re either a growing or a dying business

Some companies never change and they just die. There’s nothing in between, says Schebesta.

“Look at Borders. Instead of creating a stronger online presence, the executive team rolled out ‘fancier’ checkout systems and nice-looking storefronts. In the meantime, Amazon seemed to spring out of nowhere and take out the book market right from under their nose.

Borders were resistant to change. For SMBs, this illustrates the importance of reinvention and updating your existing offering, and the ability to do these things essentially comes from understanding what your customers want.

3. Innovation should be woven into the fabric of your business

An innovative culture needs to become a cultural necessity, says Schebesta, who believes SMB owners and leaders need to communicate to all employees that new ideas are welcome for the sake of refining productivity, increasing customer satisfaction, reducing overheads, updating the product or service offering, lifting team morale.

4. Are you going to focus on incremental growth or huge change?

Grow incrementally by innovating in your areas of expertise or instigate a huge change through investment, says Schebest.

“While the big change can offer devastation, it can also offer massive opportunity for your business.”

Work on fighting the natural fear of loss or resistance by listening to that rebel inside your business while managing potential mistakes, he says.

 

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