The world turns fast these days, and in business we are continually faced with changing landscapes. New technologies, regulations, and global competition — just to name a few —present challenges and opportunities to keep our business up to date and relevant.
Reactive or proactive – where do you stand?
Many of us run our businesses in a reactionary way; we are forced to implement changes in because the market demands it in order for our business to survive. So how can we be more proactive and develop a business that is a market leader?
The key to ensuring that your business evolves is to develop a culture of continuous improvement and innovation within your business. What does this mean? Continuous improvement is centred on implementing a three-step approach to analysing your business. This involves answering the following questions:
Where is my business now?
Where do I want to it to be?
How will I get there?
Innovation and continuous improvement – are these in your vocabulary?
Innovation will be developed from a program of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is more focused on small changes, whereas innovation looks at strategic changes that need to happen to stay successful, as well as new ways of delivering the same services or meeting the changing direction of your market. Both embrace new uses of technologies, improved industry methods, meeting changing customer demands or needs, and better systems and processes.
Continuous improvement can eliminate the need for large-scale quantum shifts, as it is by nature evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Your approach to continuous improvement and innovation will be driven by your business strategy, capability, market understanding and commitment to the process. Often, these processes will add capacity to your business with little or no additional costs.
Integration of continuous improvement
So what can you do to implement a process of continuous improvement and innovation in your business?
Regularly set goals or targets — don’t wait until you are forced to change the way you do your business.
Document the way you do things now. This will give you a starting point that will become the baseline for comparing where your business is now to where it will be.
Prioritise the areas or processes that will experience the biggest impact from improvement. Everyone loves a quick win so if you can identify areas of your business that will benefit the most from improvement, it will encourage the ongoing culture of continuous improvement in your business.
Develop action plans — these will keep the change process on track and ensure that your goals and targets will be achieved.
Measure the outcomes of changes. If the desired results have not been met, develop different strategies and actions until your goals are reached.
Keep up to date with current practices and your industry’s innovations. Network with like-minded business owners, join your industry association and look for market trends or opportunities through your business relationships.
Evolution is the practice of progression that will give rise to growth in your business. More importantly, it will ensure that you remain relevant to all the stakeholders to your business. Is it time you started evolving your business?