Why Do Companies Need To Innovate During a Downturn?

Whenever there’s a downturn in the world of business, most companies tend to put their ventures related to innovations on hold. Instead of innovation, they are focused on essentials like analyzing cash flow and cutting “unnecessary expenses”. But, can investments in innovation be considered unnecessary expenses even when there’s a decline in business activity? Certainly not and I’ll use this article to explain why.

Recovering after the initial shock – don’t let innovation fall victim to the downturn

It’s not just the small business owners that were affected by Covid-19. There are many corporations and mid-size businesses that have felt the negative impact of the pandemic. Companies of all sizes are looking for help from the governments in their countries.

So, it’s no surprise that many people are worried and confused about how they will survive this crisis. It turns, out that innovation is one of the best answers to some of the frequently asked questions today – how can we overcome this crisis or what should we do to stay successful. 

Crisis creates opportunity and that’s a fact. Innovation is something that I have always supported. The process of creating new services and products that can grab the attention of the public is one of the things that can vouch for success. But, innovation is more than this. It can also represent a change in the way your company works. 

Let’s take remote work for example. Thousands of companies have allowed their employees to work from home during the crisis. Yet, it was the innovative companies that have secured growth by following the new trends and using the best solutions to maximize the effects of remote work. The use of cloud services for collaboration, video conference calls via Zoom, and other apps, all these innovations in the working process have paid off. 

innovate during a downturn

Innovation techniques that every company can benefit from

Every company is unique, but there are some things that all companies have in common. This means that there are also a few innovation techniques that anyone can use in their company. 

For starters, you have to set any prejudices aside and open your mind. With a mental matrix like this, you will be able to become more curious. Also, you will collect the information you need regardless of the type of innovation strategies that you are looking to complete. These strategies may include things like a development of a new product, re-organization within your company, etc. 

Keep in mind that it’s not just your industry where you should conduct research. Every business is part of the economy and every national economy is connected to the world economy. The ideas, or should we say inspiration, that you are looking for might be found in unexpected places. 

When we are talking about innovation within companies, we have to mention the working environment. The post-COVID period will allow you to reshape your working area by adding open kitchens, creating libraries, and doing a few other things that can help you create a better working atmosphere and make your employees happy. 

Since most people are staying at home, this means that they are present on the Internet more than ever. As a result of that, you can read more of their online comments. Use this to support your innovation strategy. Namely, you can read social media comments, conduct customer surveys, and do market research to get an idea of what people need now. Based on this information, you can make the changes and get a better idea about your next innovation. 

innovate during a downturn

Now let’s summarize these things:

  • Be open-minded and stay curious
  • Analyze many industries, not just the one where your company belongs
  • Take some time to create an innovation-driven working environment
  • Rely on the power of the Internet

Building a culture of innovation in your company

Feel free to inform all your employees that you want to hear their ideas. Listen to them and discover the things that can help you improve your business in general. 

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate”. This is a quote from Margaret Heffernan, the world-renowned entrepreneur, and author that has realized the importance of this activity. Look for clues that can enhance your service, make customers happy, and reduce costs. 

Of course, you have to stay open-minded. This could seem like a lot of information in the beginning, but after a while, you will be able to separate important from less important information.

Innovation doesn’t have to cost much, but it usually costs something. Be prepared to invest energy, time, manpower, and money. Brainstorming is a must too. You should find a way to reward the most innovative employees too. Set a budget for this purpose and stick to it.

Whenever you identify a promising idea, create a model that you can showcase to others. They will have a chance to review the model and help you improve it. Use this feedback to eliminate the errors and make the strong selling points even stronger.

To put it simply, innovation should be your top priority, but also one of the main goals of every employee. Analyze your current business strategy and find ways to make it work better. Invest in innovation in your company and expect results soon.

innovate during a downturn

Final thoughts on innovation 

Even if there was no crisis at all, we should always strive for innovation. It was proven numerous times that businesses that can adjust to the changes and stand out from the crowd can expect success in the volatile and crowded market. Of course, this is even truer when it comes to periods of downturns like the one we are witnessing now. Don’t let the lockdown ruin your business. 

Seek inspiration from innovative companies in different industries. In case you are a leader who’s a big advocate of innovation and you have developed a culture of innovation in your company, you are on your way to success. Or as Steve Jobs once said, Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”.

The best companies are always innovating. So, whenever there’s a financial disruption or even a pandemic, they are not harmed. On the contrary, innovative companies like Amazon, for example, have profited from the latest crisis. 

Innovation is not something that happens overnight. Hard work and a good strategy will help you turn your ideas into a concept and finally into something tangible and useful for your business. Celebrate creativity and encourage innovation in any way you can. 

Dragana Neshovska

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