Episode 151: Stand Out from Competitors with Innovation

Stand Out from Competitors with Innovation

New business owners are joining the online landscape every day, and it can be like you’re in a sea of similar service providers, wondering how potential clients will choose you. Can you relate? Have you ever wondered how to stand out from your competitors?

The answer is innovation. Innovation is the spark that will keep you ahead of competitors, fuel your growth, and drive your success. And today, I’m revealing the top blocks of innovation. Awareness is the first step, and knowing what these barriers are is the best first step you can take toward becoming an innovator in your niche.

 

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • Why innovation is the best way to stand out from your competitors.
  • The 8 most common barriers to innovation for online business owners.
  • How to shift from the “when will I arrive?” mentality to falling in love with iterating and optimizing as you scale.

Hey. Hey. This week, I wanna talk about innovation, but I wanna start by going back to my days in high school and college running cross country. Early on, I took different approaches to how I ran to kinda test things out and see what the best approach would be for me. So first, I tested starting out by matching the pace of the group, trying to stay kind of just ahead of the group to conserve energy at first, and then later try to pull ahead. Hands down, the 2nd strategy consistently yielded better results for me. And even though other people were like, why are you running so fast? Right out of the gate. Like, this is an endurance race.

Right? Cross country is all about long distances, but that's what worked for me. And there's a lesson in here that relates to business as well. When it feels like your NSC of similar service providers, you can wonder how potential clients are going to choose you, how you're gonna stand apart, how you're gonna pull ahead. And even the most driven entrepreneurs can sometimes wonder, when will I arrive? Meaning, when will I finally be at this level of success where I don't feel like I have to keep pushing just to keep up. When you feel like you have to keep up constantly, that is draining. It is so hard to be in that place where you just always feel behind. You're always looking around at what others are doing, and there's a better way. Innovation is the spark that keeps us ahead of our competitors.

It fuels our growth and it drives our success. And that means setting the pace instead of trying to match your competitors. But there are some common barriers to innovation for online business owners, and awareness is the first step. You need to know what these barriers are because only once you know what they are can you take steps towards becoming an innovator in your niche? Can you actually only once you know what these are, can you make sure that they aren't limiting what's possible for you. So let's talk about these barriers. I have 8 different barriers that I want to share. The first is limited resources. This one's a biggie.

Small business owners often operate on tighter budgets. Right? And that makes sense and that's fine, but that can mean that there are limited funds to put towards new projects or testing new things. But I want to remind you that innovation doesn't always require more resources. Sometimes innovation doesn't require any budget at all. So stop using that as the reason not to try new things. Look for ways to get creative, either on a small budget or no budget. You can do things differently than your competitors and stand out by simply changing things, sometimes even saving money, mind you, and set yourself apart because you're not just doing things the way everyone else is. Second is fear of failure.

The fear of making a wrong move can definitely be paralyzing. We have all been there. But remember, innovation often tires, taking calculated risks. So don't let fear stifle your creativity. Stop focusing on the worst case and think about the possibilities. Give equal airtime to the best case scenario. If you're gonna think about the risks and the challenges and the failures that are possible, at least spend time thinking about what would happen if everything goes really well. Right? If everything goes amazing and then make a decision, then decide if it's worth going after.

Of course, you're not gonna take steps when you're only focused on the worst case. 3rd is lack of time. Finding the time to innovate can feel impossible. As business owners, we have so many things to do day to day and our to do lists are truly, honestly never ending. But we have to make decisions about what we spend our time on, and we have to make time for what's important. So this really comes down to realizing the impact that innovation has or the lack of innovation, right, the impact of the lack of innovation on your business. Because once you realize that innovation isn't just a nice to do, it's actually a must due, it's part of your role as a CEO, it's part of your responsibility as a CEO, then you realize, okay, I just have to make time for this. It might not seem day to day like the most important thing, but that's maybe because you're so focused on what has to get done to make that day a success.

But you, as the CEO, need to begin to look out longer term. And then all of a sudden, it becomes clear that innovation is important for you to be able to get where you wanna go long term. That bleeds into lack of Clear Vision. Without a clear direction or understanding of the big picture goals, you can struggle to come up with innovative solutions. Right? You might even get trapped into adopting what you see others doing and thinking, oh, that's what I want to do. That's where I wanna go. But that keeps you behind the pack, not ahead. Make sure you're taking time to dream up what you want to create and where you want to go long term.

Next up is resistance to change. As humans, we are creatures of habit. We resist what is unfamiliar. And when you have ideas that you've never seen anyone else do before, your brain is going to immediately categorize it as dangerous. Is gonna try to shut down the idea. And it's all in an effort of your brain trying to keep you safe, but you need to stay open minded. Right? Stay open to new ideas even if they don't seem logical, even when there isn't evidence of anyone else doing it, even when you've never seen it before. 6th is inadequate feedback loops.

Feedback from customers and your team can be a gold mine for innovation. Ensure that there are open channels of communication that allow their insights to be shared. But remember to stay true to your vision by running any feedback you get through the lens of what you want to create. The goal here isn't to do everything that others recommend. Is not to try to make your team and your customers happy by doing every single thing that they want to do. It's to make the things that are already aligned with your vision, the things that you're already doing even better by incorporating feedback. 7th is overemphasis on immediate ROI. Focusing on innovation isn't about a quick return on investment.

It's focused on the long term. If you're always focused on the short term gains, you might be looking opportunities that can have significant long term results. And then last but not least is not rewarding creativity. Sometimes business owners get stuck in the mindset of this is how we've always done it, or just follow the system, just do what I said to do. And it can get really annoying or frustrating when team members are constantly sharing new ideas because that gives you more work to do. Right? You think that you have to either explain why you're not gonna do them or you've got to spend the time, you know, actually implementing them. And when you're limited on time, it can again just get frustrating. So it's common for small business owners to really begin to shut down the ideas that their team brings to them.

But creative thinking and challenging the status quo are behaviors to recognize and reward in your team. You want a team that's thinking outside of the box and you don't have to say yes to every idea. You don't have to entertain every idea right now, but at least capture them. At least create a place where your team can share those ideas even if they're not going to be looked at in the short term, you can create something that I just refer to as a parking lot of all of the ideas of things that can be done in the future. Okay. With these 8 things in mind, these common barriers to innovation, I want you to know that the awareness that you have of these already makes you 1 step closer to not letting them stop you and your team from moving forward and innovating. These aren't insurmountable. In your role of CEO, leading with vision and an open mind can take you and your business further than you imagine.

So don't forget to build in that time to focus on vision and innovation. This is what your business needs from you.

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