Product innovation is essential for businesses to stay competitive. However, as analysts remain uncertain over 2023’s prospects, many entrepreneurs may feel inclined to rely on their tried-and-true methods rather than taking risks. George Deeb is an innovation expert, and a managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, a consulting firm helping companies plan and execute growth strategies. Jim Fitzpatrick, host of the Atlanta Small Business Show, sits down with Deeb to discuss simple rules for companies looking to keep their competitive edge in the new year.
Don’t be complacent
Many entrepreneurs may feel that once their product is finally on the market, no further development is needed, leading them to prioritize marketing and sales. However, Deeb warns managers against complacency. Products can become outdated quickly in today’s fast-paced economy, and competitors can easily steal customers away if they become bored. Rather than allowing this to happen, he suggests becoming a “moving target,” which stays ahead of the market rather than sitting still. Effective business leaders look to surprise the public with improvements and creativity, allowing them to stay ahead of the curve.
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Build a roadmap
Deeb recommends business owners first imagine the ultimate form of their product, a final version with every possible upgrade and feature customers could want and afford. After noting down the details, entrepreneurs can compare this future design with what they currently have on the market, and determine what transformations their invention would need to go through to match their vision. Each alteration becomes a step in their product’s evolution, forming a long term roadmap companies can use to plan innovations. While this groundwork is important, Deeb cautions against relying on an overly rigid plan, and notes that these roadmaps should instead be responsive to competitor and consumer shifts.
Learn from other brands
Business leaders can learn from the mistakes of others to stay successful. Companies such as Sears and Blockbuster had the resources to renovate their models, but failed to take act in time. Sears, which once dominated the retail industry, dragged its feet over internet accessibility, letting competitors steal their market share with convenient web-based services. Today, the brand’s future remains unclear as its executives struggle to make ends meet. Blockbuster leaders infamously passed on a deal to purchase Netflix, a buyout which could have saved them from collapse after the rise of streaming services. Examples are endless, but the theme remains the same: businesses which fail to innovate or adapt are doomed to fail.
Staying ahead of the market may seem like a daunting task especially since 2020, but early planning and sustained innovation can help entrepreneurs remain competitive whatever the economy brings. Deeb recommends that all future and current business owners begin strategizing now, so that their companies can continue growing into the new year.
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