As a business owner, it can be difficult to make time for innovation once your business is up and running. There are day to day operations to handle, employees to manage, and customers to please. So, you’re left with a difficult choice… Stop all development (even though that was probably the most enjoyable part of building your business) or burn out trying to take on all of the daily tasks as well as innovating and creating.
The first choice, just maintaining the status quo, could work for a while but will ultimately lead to a stale business with little room for growth. Not to mention boredom on your part.
However, trying to manage everything is a recipe for failure as well. Not only will burn out become a factor, but everything you do launch will likely be only a partial success because you’re only dedicating part of your attention.
The solution? Be intentional and carve out time that is specifically for development. This gets you out of the day to day weeds and allows you to focus on pushing your business forward.
Here’s how to get started:
Set an Intention
Something as simple as setting an intention can be a great way to kickstart a period of development for your company. There’s something powerful about announcing a new direction or renewed focus on innovation.
If you have a team, work to build a culture in which everyone is responsible for development and expected to contribute to overall growth. This takes the pressure off of you, as the business owner, and generates more movement and ideas for new products or services.
For example, there may be an employee in your company that’s noticed several customers who would benefit from a certain product or service to work in tandem with your current offering. That may never be something that you notice. So, if you’ve developed a culture and a system in which those ideas flow from the bottom up, you’ll be able to stay on top of opportunities.
Don’t have a team? You can still impact your culture by setting an expectation that this year will be a year focused on development.
Brilliance is borne from consistency. Treat your business as you would learning a new sport or skill. It takes practice. Before the “Eureka” moment, there will be many, many duds. So, don’t get discouraged.
Set aside time every day or each week to brainstorm ideas for development, push projects along, or talk with others in your company about ways that you can improve.
Be consistent – even if your first 100 ideas suck, the 101st could be the one that makes all the difference.
Build an Accountability Team
I’ve always maintained that you can’t create in a bubble. Whether it’s an internal team or employees or a support team of fellow business owners, make sure you’re accountable to someone.
Internally, this could be as structured as a monthly meeting for an innovation team. Maybe it’s one person from each department who is responsible for proposing new ideas. Maybe it’s a group of people who have shown interest in growing the company and are motivated to develop new products and services.
Don’t shoulder all of the responsibility for developing new ideas. Listen to your audience for ways that you can improve on your current offering as well as new products or services that they would find beneficial. If your company is active on social media, join conversations about how your clients are using your products and services. Create focus groups to get answers to specific questions.
There is no better source of market research than those who have already bought from you, so listen and use it to your advantage.
Keep a Parking Lot
This is a super simple way to carve out time for development without letting it take over your day to day duties. Keep a document, white board, or notebook to track ideas as they come to you throughout your work day.
For people who are easily distracted by new ideas (me), this is a gamechanger, It allows you to capture that thought or idea, put it in a designated place, and return to it during the time you’ve allotted to focus on development.
This is also a great resource to share with your accountability team so that all can contribute.
The hardest part about creating new products and services is the intimidation factor. It just SEEMS like a lot of work on top of what you’re already doing running your business. I like to use sprints to help me push past the bulk of the work.
What’s a sprint? It’s when you block off a couple of days, maybe a week, and knock out a chunk of the work necessary to develop your idea. It’s a commitment, yes, but it is so helpful in the long run. Have you ever been guilty of saying something along the lines of “Oh, well, we’ve been thinking of doing that for several months now but just haven’t gotten around to it”?
Time for a sprint.