You Can’t Win by Following.

When we hear the word innovation, people consistently think of companies like Apple or Google. We (generally) think of companies that are growing significantly, often in technology, and whose name or brand is easily recognizable.  When we are also looking for growth or success, we often find ourselves asking questions like, “how does Amazon do this?” or “how does Facebook do that?” But if you’re truly trying to achieve great success -even if on a much smaller scale than these companies- the key is not to do what they do. The key to success and growth is to do what works for you and your company, not what the big guys do, or even what your competitors do. You’ve got to be innovative in your approach to success.

Look how many competitors Apple’s iPad has, and how many are experiencing anything close to Apple’s success in that market? They not only thought of something new, but they did it in a new way. Sure there are other tablets around, but none that work as well, have as many apps and features, or are three steps ahead of everyone else. The same concept works for your processes and planning.  You can’t just adopt someone else’s budget, development process, or marketing plan – or I should say you can, but you’ll only achieve less than desirable outcomes.  You’ve got to take what they are doing and adapt it to your unique situation. No other company in the world has your same set of products or services, same employees, same growth goals, same brand name, same following, etc.  So why would you use some else’s budget, plans, or process? The outline of these things can be great for you, but do them in your own way and adapt them to fit your market and your need. Don’t start a Facebook page if no one you serve is on Facebook. Even if you see how successful other companies are on Facebook, that doesn’t mean you’ll have the same results. Think of doing something new or different, because your business is different.

Here are a few ways to be more innovative:

1. Determine what makes you different as a company – Is it your brand? Your employees? Your product or service? Find what makes you different and use it to your advantage – that is what you can use to stand out.

2. Don’t do something if you don’t know why it will bring you success – If you think you should start a blog solely because you see other people having success with them, then don’t start one. But if you understand that it’s successful for others because they have a large online presence, and your target audience also finds you online, then definitely look into starting a blog.

3. See what everyone else is doing and do something different. The best example I’ve heard of this is an ice cream truck that decided to post their location and flavors only via Twitter.  Everyone else has standard menus and set locations, so they did something new and different and had great success.

These are just a few ways to think differently and get a new perspective. It’s ok to see what others are doing, but don’t just follow what they are doing. Do it better, different, or in a new way.

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