It’s easy to fall into a daily routine rather than seeking out new knowledge and new ideas. As a business owner, you probably aren’t going to have the resources on your hands to hire a research team or spend time analyzing target markets for future opportunities. If you plan to grow as an individual and as a business, it’s up to you to create a culture of innovation in your company.  Below are a couple of ideas to help you do that:

Encourage risk taking. There are obviously times where you can’t afford to take a risk. There are also many opportunities for you to praise your employees for going out on a limb and trying something new. Make sure that employees know when and where it’s appropriate to get creative, and be sure to provide positive reinforcement for outside the box thinking.  

Keep things exciting. Shake things up in your business. Don’t hesitate to rearrange teams or partnerships or procedures. This may create some tension at first, but it can also lead to new breakthroughs as employees learn how to work with their new teammates, combine their new skill sets, or approach tasks in new ways.

Don’t just talk the talk.  Give innovation more than just lip service.  Be willing to invest time and money into promising ideas, as long as you have reason to believe the results will be worth whatever you invest.  Nothing will kill the innovative spirit at your company as quickly as you simply dismissing every idea that requires an investment.  If you can afford to do so, have each employee dedicate a couple of hours each week to ideas and pet projects.  Make sure the projects are practical and are potentially useful, but give your employees free reign to brainstorm and develop ideas.  You never know where the next great idea may emerge.

Creating a culture of innovation in a small business isn’t easy.  Given that most small businesses don’t have the resources to spend as much time innovating as they’d like, it becomes a balancing act between creativity and simply getting the job done.  On one hand, it’s important to ensure that you’re satisfying your current customers and picking up new ones, but it’s also true that if you fail to innovate the marketplace will leave you behind.

How have you created a culture of innovation in your workplace?