Product and service innovation is a key accelerator of business growth at any stage of business from startup to maturity. Although we most often associate product innovation with startup companies, and the tech industry in particular, continuous innovation should be part of every business owner’s growth strategy.

Consider an established business with strong growth, a large customer base and a sought-after product or service offering. That business is secure and comfortable. A great place to be! Except it never stays that way. Markets, customers and competitors change. It can happen gradually over time or suddenly in a snap. Now the business is threatened by outside forces it may not have seen coming.

The business owner has fallen into complacency. Complacency is death to any business. Complacency can fool you. You might think it looks like this.

When in fact, for most business owners – it looks more like this.

Busy, plenty of jobs and orders. The phone is ringing. Until it’s not.

To avoid the complacency trap and continue to innovate to stay ahead of market, competitor and customer curves, try this simple step.

Take a couple of hours alone or with your management team –the very start of the day is best – before it gets hectic and address these three questions:

  1. What do you do better than others?
  2. What changes could you make to your product or service that would make it more attractive or more useful for current customers?
  3. What could you add to your product or service that would bring in more volume or different kinds of customer?

This is equally useful for products and services. Start from the features and benefits you have today and imagine the future: from your own internal ideas to suggestions customers have made, to actions you see your competitors taking.

Use this time as a brainstorming session. Accept all ideas no matter how impractical or expensive. Then prioritize them. Here’s a handy chart to help.

Idea – List your ideas Resources – do you have the people, money, tools and time to do this? Note them here Business Impact – What impact positive (customer, market, competition) or negative (disruption) will this have on the business? Priority – Rank these ideas based on your answers to resources and business impact.
New Features
New Complimentary Service
New Product Line

Then choose one idea – assign it to someone with a due date to present an action plan to you and your team.

Set the presentation date for no longer than 30 days out and get back to business.

That way you’ve got at least one product or service innovation in process at all times. You’ve avoided the complacency trap and you’re keep your product and service at the front of market and customer changes.

Want more business growth ideas? Download our Octain Growth Plans here.