7 Steps to Creating a Culture of Business Innovation

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan  Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan

Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

A positive culture and a climate that enables innovation are necessary for individuals and organizations to thrive. In an innovation culture, leaders create an environment where out of the box, unorthodox, thinking is allowed and nurtured.  In such an environment, new ideas come from anywhere in the organization and are not just the prerogative of top leadership.

In rapidly changing markets, an innovation culture is critical to help organizations maintain their competitive advantage. Innovative organizations are focused on the value created by employees. Organizations can develop this innovation culture by deliberately focusing on innovation through ongoing training and knowledge sharing, the integration of new technologies into the production process, and the addition of new leaders. Below are seven steps that leaders can take in developing a culture of innovation:

1. DEVELOP A TRAINING ENVIRONMENT THAT FACILITATES KNOWLEDGE SHARING  

Train and keep training. An environment committed to ongoing training forces work teams and individuals to re-categorize information and move beyond habitual thinking patterns to truly novel alternatives and new ideas. Additionally, training facilitates knowledge sharing between individuals and between work teams.

2. IMMERSE WORK TEAMS INTO NEW ENVIRONMENTS

Immersing work teams into new environments supports creativity-building exercises and idea generation efforts outside the office.  New environments are powerful in directly confronting workers’ implicit or explicit assumptions and forcing change that could positively impact individual performance and the organization.

3. DEMOCRATIZE INNOVATION AND EMBRACE NEW THINKING

By democratizing the methods of innovation and giving individuals and teams a louder voice in designing the future of the organization, managers and leaders help to foster a creative culture. A democratic innovation environment can help in overcoming traditional beliefs and jolt the organization out of familiar processes and procedures and into new thinking and idea generation.

4. INTEGRATE INNOVATION INTO ORGANIZATIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Organizational leaders should integrate innovation and creativity into the fabric and behavior of the business, as an essential element of all organizational activities and not as a sideshow, without the required financial and managerial support. An import element of this process is the rewarding of innovation.

5. INTEGRATE NEW TECHNOLOGY

In the digital economy, it is critical that organizations systematically integrate new technology into the production process to maintain competitive advantage. Companies can leverage new technologies to drive innovation, keep pace and respond effectively and efficiently to the disruptions to their business. The right blend of new technologies will also help organizations in their drive to differentiate and deliver innovative products and services to their customers.

6. MANAGE CONFLICTS

While some conflict can produce positive outcomes, too much conflict can stifle creativity. To facilitate innovation, organizations must manage conflict to encourage the right level of debate and the exchange of different points of view, in a way that positively impacts the creative environment.

7. SYSTEMATICALLY ADD NEW LEADERS

Managers and leaders should resist the temptation to stay beyond their time. Instead, existing managers and leaders should systematically make way for new leaders who are able to bring new ideas and foster a culture of renewal, creativity, and innovation.

LAST WORD

Innovation and inventiveness are required in everything that is done by a company, not just in marketing or in new product development. A key factor in boosting innovativeness is establishing the right organizational climate that nurtures the creative potential of employees and makes use of their knowledge of customers, competitors, and processes ~ Brian Leavy.

With constant changes in technology, disruptions in industry, and increased connectedness, there are multiple opportunities for innovation. Companies should build their innovation culture by paying attention to the best innovation practices of other companies, focusing on their values and philosophy, as they move to disrupt existing methods of product development, and deliver new and exciting products and services to the market.

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Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan is a Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Business Educator. She blogs about Strategy & Innovation, Media Matters, and Entrepreneurship. Follow her posts at Focus on innovation with Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan and at YourBusiness International Follow Elaine on Twitter @drElainea and on Facebook

How a Mentor can Increase Your Business Success

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan  Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan

Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

Did you know that the number one secret to the success of many entrepreneurs and business executives is mentorship? Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to grow your business or individual seeking to build your personal brand and a successful career, mentoring is one of the most important contributors to business success.  Many fortune 5000 companies are intentional with their mentorship programs, employing Software such as MentorCity, WisdomShare, and MentorCloud to support the professional development of their executives.

The importance of mentorship is also demonstrated in other areas of lives. For example, the minute you are accepted into an advanced degree programme, you are assigned a mentor to guide you for the entire period of your research. Very often your mentor begins by trashing your proposal because your topic is not viable for research. Importantly, an academic mentor helps you correct your many errors, keeps you accountable so that you graduate on time. Without a mentor, I would still be working on my dissertation.

The same is true for organizations such as Toastmasters which provide mentors to help you become a competent speaker and leader. My first mentor was my high school business teacher who not only ensured that I took all the right subjects but opened doors to my first job. Other mentors along my professional path have shared knowledge and insights that have helped me make better decisions.

Research on mentoring found the following:

  • 75% of executives point to mentoring relationships as having a key role in their career.

  • 71% of fortune 500 companies have formal mentoring programs in place.

  • 95% of mentoring participants report that the experience motivated them to excellence.

  • Businesses which participated in mentoring saw revenues increase at a faster rate than those which did not.

Mentoring matters! It could help you double your success. It could also help you find direction if technological disruptions or other factors have left you at a personal or professional crossroad. Here are my five top reasons why you should find a mentor:

  1. A mentor can help you achieve your goals faster

The most important reason for mentorship is to help you achieve your goals and get you where you want to in the most efficient way.  Achieving your goals is not always a straight path and is often riddled with delays and derailments. A mentor who is adequately qualified and experienced can provide information and knowledge which will shorten your learning curve, keep you focused, and help you navigate a faster path to your goals.

  1. A mentor will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses

The key to obtaining maximum benefits from your mentorship program is to remain teachable; to accept advice and take action. A mentor is like a teacher who can quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of a student. Identifying strengths and weaknesses is critical to ensuring that you improve on weaknesses but focus on areas of strength, and on core competencies. Chances of success are greater where strengths are amplified in growing your career or in building your business.

  1. Mentors help you to reduce mistakes

Many business mistakes can be reduced or avoided when the knowledge and experience of a mentor are leveraged. In the current hyper-competitive and unforgiving business environment, mistakes can be costly. Very often, those ahead of us have made some of the same errors that we are about to make. A mentor is well positioned to provide the guidance needed to help you avoid mistakes that could derail your business.

  1. Mentors help you at critical decision points

Entrepreneurship involves making the right decisions at the right time to solve problems and make money. A mentee can tap into the skills of a mentor who is able to see an issue from multiple angles, guide the decision-making process and recommend proven strategies to achieve success. The decision-making process is enhanced because you are able to share confidential information and get feedback from a trusted mentor who will not steal your ideas.

  1. A mentor can point you to new opportunities

Whether you are building a business or your career, a mentor can help you to identify new opportunities and share ideas and that can provide a springboard to the start of a new venture, or a new position. A good mentor can also play the role of connector, linking you to a network of friends, colleagues and business partners that you would otherwise not have access to.

  1. A mentor provides encouragement

Discouragement is a real issue in life and in business. It results from broken dreams, failure, and loss. On the flipside of discouragement is encouragement which means giving someone confidence, hope, and support. When discouragement comes, as it sometimes will, a mentor will provide the encouragement and the persuasion you need to keep pushing towards your goal.

Last Word

The beauty of mentorship is that it is usually free, even though in recent times paid mentors have become available to those who want more and are willing to pay. However, the majority of mentors are and men and women committed to paying it forward. They are in our communities, in our churches, and workplaces. In fact, in the age of technology, your mentor could be anywhere in the world, connecting with you via Skype, WhatsApp or Zoom.

Regardless of your age, your failures or accomplishments, you can still benefit from a mentor. It is not a sign of weakness! According to Shark Tank’s Daymond John, having a mentor is one of the main reasons why people are successful.  A bold and successful entrepreneur, with 107 companies, Daymond John still looks to his mentors for guidance. Find more than one mentors if you wish. Be open to accepting guidance, remain teachable, and act on the advice provided. Whether you are 21 or 71, finding a mentor could help you double your success!

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan is a Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Business Educator. She directs YourBusiness International and blogs about Innovation, Social Media, and Entrepreneurship. Follow her posts at Focus on innovation with Dr. Elaine Williams-Morganand at YourBusiness International Follow Elaine on Twitter @DrElainea and on Facebook

7 Reasons Why This is the Right Time to Start Your Business

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan  Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan

Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

If running your own business has been on your mind for a long time, and your great ideas are waking you up at nights, now is the best time to start your business. The possibility of taking charge of your time and your future is now greater than ever, given the advances in technology, convergence, globalization and social media.

Here are seven reasons why now is the best time to start your own business:

1.      User-friendly technology

Technology and open innovation have disrupted traditional approaches to business, driven down costs, increased access for people, businesses, and entrepreneurs across the globe. Web 2.0 and social media have transformed communication and business processes through an emphasis on collaboration, user-generated content, and networking. This growing connectedness and networking are driven by major developments in interactive media and the increasingly active role of consumers in creating content on behalf of brands. Technology facilitates easy access to everything entrepreneurs need for their start-up, including logo design, website creation, accounting services, stock management, coaching and consulting services. In addition, the cost of hardware has fallen significantly, making it easier than ever to access hardware such as smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. Collectively these developments have leveled the playing field for small businesses.

2.     Open markets for products and services

Technology advancements have given rise to the internet, which has ushered in a new era of open markets. Businesses now have access to suppliers, services, and customers from across the globe. The access to translation services makes it possible to communicate and do business with anyone, anywhere in the world, without learning the language. However, if you want to learn the language there is technology to help you do that too. Social media and Omni-channels facilitate targeted marketing of products, services, and anything that an entrepreneur has to offer. The rapid disappearance of traditional barriers and the emergence of wide open markets give entrepreneurs the opportunity to leverage their ecosystems, expand their customer base and operate on a global scale.

3.     Multiple sources of funding

Access to funding has always been one of the greatest problems for entrepreneurs seeking to start or advance their business. Access to capital was always reserved for those with influence, the wealthy and connected. Now entrepreneurs have access to multiple sources of funding, including:

  • Angel Investors - where individuals investors provide the funding for start-up.

  • Family and Friends – who use their savings and profits to provide start-up capital.

  • Small Business Loans – where government agencies provide subsidized loans for businesses at low-interest rates.

  • Small Business Grants – where government agencies provide grants for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

  • Venture Capital - where investors provide the start-up funding for small businesses that show potential for long-term growth.

  • Crowd Funding – Where entrepreneurs raise small amounts of money from a large number of people using the internet. Popular crowdfunding platforms include:

    • Kickstarter – for people in the arts - authors, musicians, filmmakers

    • Somolend – debt-based investment funding for small businesses

    • Crowdfunder – which provides a combination of donation and investment funding for small businesses

4.     Increased support for entrepreneurs

There is increasing recognition, across the globe, that entrepreneurship and small businesses play an important role in economic growth. As such, there are improved regulations, and increasing support from governments and international agencies to help small businesses thrive. It is now easier than ever for entrepreneurs to register their businesses, to file their returns, and access funding. In addition, agencies such as the Small Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce provide significant support and mentorships for SMEs.

5.     Your job provides no guarantee

Technology has created many great opportunities and many new jobs, but technology has also disrupted the traditional job market putting many out of jobs and threatening many more. It is great to have a career but in an era of disruptive technologies, mergers, and takeovers, a job should not be your only strategy for generating income. Multiple sources of income are necessary for your multiple streams of bills and expenses. Starting your own business could provide the security you need, provide an additional income stream, and the path to true final independence.

6.     There is help all around

Whether you believe it or not, there is a lot of help available to help you to start, manage and grow your business. There are consultants for everything you need – management consultants, tax consultants, marketing consultants and many more. In addition, there are business mentors and coaches that you can hire to provide the guidance you need to increase your chances of success. There are also people in your life and your network who are potential mentors, and who will provide valuable guidance for your business, at no cost. In addition, there are many talented people who are looking for meaningful engagement who can help you with your start-up at reasonable rates, including retirees, students, and those looking for new opportunities.

7.     There are many potential partners

As an entrepreneur, sometimes it seems more efficient to go it alone because no one else has the passion for your venture. However, you do not have to go it alone. There are many like-minded entrepreneurs that are looking for partners. In the words of Dr. Duchess Harris, guest speaker at my recent graduation, “find your crew.” Find partners with integrity, and who are passionate, result oriented, and hard-working, because it takes more than one person to achieve true success. Never be a one woman or a one-man show!

Last Word

If you are reading this article, it means that you are halfway there, but it is not enough. Identify where you are now, where you want to be in the next six months and create a plan to get there. Overcome your fear of moving forward and take the first step. Stop being afraid of what may go wrong and focus on all the things that could go right. Consider the opportunity cost of not moving forward. Consider what you could gain from starting your business now.

Time is precious, and the time is right. In the words of Will Smith, “God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror; on the other side of your maximum fear are all of the best things in life.”  If you wait for the perfect time, you will wait forever. Make the Decision!  Start Your Business.

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan is a Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Business Educator. She blogs about Strategy & Innovation, Media Matters, and Entrepreneurship. Follow her posts at Focus on innovation with Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan and at YourBusiness International Follow Elaine on Twitter @drElainea and on Facebook

Take Advantage of Global Trends in Growing Your Business

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan  Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan

Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

Global trends are major developmental forces that have sustained impact on the global economy, businesses and individuals.  These trends may be societal, political, economic or environmental, and impact the way people perceive the world around them and their expectations from products and services. 

Global mega-trends redefine the future world for humankind.  Hence it is important for individuals and businesses alike to pay attention to these trends.  Several mega trends and potential scenarios are likely to emerge in the next decade and will provide the basis for forward thinking organizations to transform their businesses. Organizations can use these trends as the basis of their strategic planning, by assessing their impact on functional areas such as production, marketing, and customer relationship management and take action to gain competitive advantage from the environmental changes.

Global mega trends include urbanization, smart cities, the rise of Generation Y and increased connectivity and convergence

1. Urbanization

Urbanization will lead to the expansion of city limits as populations migrate from rural communities to city centers around the world.  This development will have implication for business and government services.

 2. Smart Cities

Smart cities will emerge as the global emphasis shift from “green” which dominated global business conversations to ‘smart’.  Smart technology will influence the construction of buildings, energy generation and utilities.

 3. Connectivity and Convergence

The rapid increase in internet users will result in the growth of users to over 5 billion by 2020, with more than half that number accessing the internet using handheld devices.  Connectivity will be a major feature of daily life, connecting home, school, work and environment into a seamless connected life.  Connected living will become a major part of life of the future.

 4. Online retailing

Online retailing will become the normal way for the retail industry of the future, with more and more of global commerce taking place online.  Virtual stores and virtual hypermarkets will emerge as the ‘click and collect’ retailing models expand globally.  Online retailing will expand to sectors such as the automobile industry, which will begin selling motor cars online through virtual showrooms.

 5. Social Trends

Major changes in social trends will include the rise, and dominance of Generation Y which will influence changes in product development, marketing strategy and technology.  Generation Y  provides a huge opportunity for innovative companies as they are willing to experiment with new technology, and are adaptive.  

 6. Smart Energy

Several related industries will converge with the energy industry for the development of multiple environmentally friendly options for consumers.  These will include the smart grid, energy internet, and solar power satellites from space, deep sea drilling, and an increase in energy storage technology.

 7. Value for Many Business Model

The combination of an increasing global middle class and a more connected global community provide greater access to businesses and entrepreneurs to expand their customer base.  Businesses have an increased opportunity for growth as they gain economies of scale from the possibility of selling goods and services to customers across the globe using the internet platform.

While trends impact us all, the impact is different for individuals and businesses depending on their location in the world.  It is, therefore critical for organizations and entrepreneurs to pay attention to these trends in developing future strategy, business plans, and technology implementation. 

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan is a Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Business Educator. She blogs about Strategy & Innovation, Media Matters, and Entrepreneurship. Follow her posts at Focus on innovation with Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan and at YourBusiness International Follow Elaine on Twitter @drElainea and on Facebook 

Develop Core Competencies | Focus on What You are Good At

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan  Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan

Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

To gain competitive advantage, Entrepreneurs, and businesses should focus on developing their core competencies.  Figure what you are good at and focus! There is a danger in trying to do much - In trying to be all things to all men.

Core competencies are the harmonized combination of a company’s technical capabilities, intellectual capital, knowledge management and other resources. They distinguish the company from others in the industry, and allow it to be competitive in the market. Firms should effectively define competencies by identifying

·         unique human resources

·         material resources

·         coordination capacity

·         managerial skills

These resources should be combined with information technology (IT) to drive innovation and create a competitive advantage.  Innovation opportunities should be created by  focusing on a few core competencies. To effectively identify and define core competencies, it is recommended that firms pursue a coherent capabilities-driven strategy involving the following steps:

1.      Determine what you are good at

2.      Select three (3) - six (6)  mutually reinforcing capabilities, and develop them

3.      Align these capabilities with the company’s strategy  

4.      Align capabilities system with the right opportunities in the market

5.      Create value for customers

6.      Improve customer service through constant monitoring and feedback

Know what you are good at!  -   Focus on what you are good at!

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan is a Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Business Educator. She blogs about Strategy & Innovation, Media Matters, and Entrepreneurship. Follow her posts at Focus on innovation with Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan and at YourBusiness International Follow Elaine on Twitter @drElainea and on Facebook

10 Steps to Starting Your Business

Elaine 2 - Small.jpg

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan

Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Educator

1.       Write Down Your Business Idea

Your business idea can be written in a sentence, a paragraph or a page. Own it!  Begin by writing it down!

2.       Write Your Business Plan

Once you have written down your business idea, it is time to write your business plan.  The business plan details your value proposition to customers.  It is your blueprint for what your business will do and how it will be done.  If you do not know how to write a business plan, get help from a professional.

3.       Determine How You Will Finance Your Business

Will your business be financed from personal funds and savings, loans, venture capital, grants, or a combination of these.  When you determine your financing method, take step to secure the funding.

4.       Decide on Your Business Structure

Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited liability company.  Take time to understand the different forms of businesses and select the one that is most suitable for the kind of business you intend to run.

5.       Decide on The Location of Your Business

If your business will be online, you need to create a website where your value proposition can be offered, otherwise you should identify a location suitable for the kind of business you will do. 

6.       Register Your Business

Register your business with the Registrar of Companies in your locale.

7.       Register Your Business With the Tax Department

Registering with the Inland Revenue department will provide you with the Tax registration number and permits required to establish your business as a legal entity.

8.       Set Up Office

Set up your office and create your website if your business is on location.  Develop your website if your business is online.

9.       Identify Help

Determine your staff requirement, identify and employ suitable staff for your business.  Alternatively, you can begin with help from family and friends and add staff as your business grows.

10.    Begin Your Value Creating Activities

When steps 1 – 9 are completed, it is time to take action to create the product and services for your target market.

Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan is a Media & Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Business Educator. She blogs about Strategy & Innovation, Media Matters, and Entrepreneurship. Follow her posts at Focus on innovation with Dr. Elaine Williams-Morgan and at YourBusiness International Follow Elaine on Twitter @drElainea and on Facebook