Innovation Ideas in Economic Slowdowns

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Anthony Jackson
Professor, Korea (South)

Innovation Ideas in Economic Slowdowns

🔥NEW Innovation has always been the hallmark of doing good business. A lot of products that we enjoy today that were developed by major corporations started out as innovative ideas. Numerous small businesses around the United States are waiting on the stimulus money as promised through the (PPP) payroll protection program or complaining that they won't last much longer if the country or their particular state doesn't open up soon from the covid-19 lockdown.

Although, their complaints are reasonable nonetheless, small business owners must take their continuation in their own hands and innovate. One small business owner in Portland, Oregon who owns two strip clubs closed in March due to the mandatory stay-at-home order. Instead of complaining and losing money he decided at first to have his ladies deliver food from the club to customers who had either called or ordered via the internet but after being ordered to stop change to a drive-thru strip club where the customers picked up their orders and got a show. Social distancing was observed but the owner made money as well as the ladies who worked for him.

And famers in France have been selling their vegetables online via their website to customers resulting in sales volume half his normal level and saving part of his crops from being destroyed as well as an Indian cooperative delivering direct to city dwellers vegetables averaging about 3000 deliveries per day because the lockdown disrupted its regular distribution channels.

You can love or hate these ideas but the main point is that they are innovating to save their businesses. Nonstop innovation is not simple and if you cling on to using the same procedure you will experience decreasing results. But is it possible one of the under mentioned methods can help your business survive the current crisis and grow?
  • IMITATION. Henry Ford did it by observing a meatpacking plant production line and then implementing the concept to the auto industry thereby decreasing production time and cost.
  • PERCEIVE CUSTOMERS. Notice how they are using your products and view your services. The young generation was tearing their jeans to give it that distressed look Levi Strauss took notice and started a new line of distressed looking jeans. This example is something we all do unconsciously because of the way the bottle is shaped and that is storing our ketchup upside down but it was started by Heinz because they noticed how people stored their sauce jars.
  • DO AWAY WITH. Do away with what doesn't work with products or services. Can you eliminate certain food items that don't sell? Or services that allow people to stay at your business without buying anything? That's what killed the brick and mortar book stores because they had free Wi-Fi in the coffee shop and lounge areas where you could read books without purchasing them. Both services didn't generate enough revenue to keep them and in the end, help lead to their loss.
  • WHAT IS THE COMPETITION DOING? Can you modify or license one of their innovations or ideas? Sometimes small companies are the most innovative.
  • RETURN TO THE PAST. Revisit strategies and services that were utilized in your industry that were successful in the past but have declined because of the changing times. Decide if one can be brought back in a new modified form. Some of the current video games out now were revised from the late '80s and '90s.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA. Go on Facebook and Instagram and try to get a feel for what people would like to see in future products and services from your business. A lot of people are active on social media and the responses may surprise you.
  • PROMOTE AN INNOVATIVE ATMOSPHERE. Are you open to change as a business owner or do you cling on to old business practices like "grim death"? Companies that are brick and mortar and haven't set up an online business will lose out.
  • BE A VISIONARY. Innovation flourishes in organizations that have an innovative view and leaders who have a vision. A good example of a lack of a vision for innovation can be seen in Ken Olsen of Digital Equipment Corporation whose thoughts about home computers were doubtful and that the average household would not buy one. Boy was he wrong because they are now common everywhere with some households having more than one. DEC is now long gone but the personal computer is here to stay with enhanced features. As a business owner, you need the courage to chase after ideas that look unfeasible or risky.
There is no alternative for challenging work and there's no magic bullet in innovation - it comes in the course of continual efforts, thinking, and conceptualization. Organizations that are centered on the short term and compel to demonstrate topline increase, are more troubled about results and may lose sight of the long term.

It has been proven that the best performers in business are the ones that continuously innovate and experience very little in terms of disruptions in technology or financial crisis that would otherwise mean disaster for the average business performer.

References
Greenwald, M. (2014), "What exactly is Innovation", Forbes Online.
Pallini, T. (2020), "Small Airlines Stroke of Genius", Business Insider Online.
Trompiz, G., La Hamaide, S., Walljasper, C. (2020), "Farmers Innovate to get food from field to plate", Reuters online.

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