By Susan Guillory

There comes a time for every small business when it gets into a rut. You can probably relate. Maybe you just haven’t been able to come up with new ideas, or you feel like your product offerings are stagnant.

I’m here to help you inject a little innovation back into your business. How are we going to do that? By asking and answering the kinds of questions that will get your creative wheels turning.

What’s Lacking in My Business Right Now?

Rather than trying to solve the problem immediately, let’s first look at what the issue is. Why do you feel your business is stuck in a rut? Here are a few possible causes:

  • We’re not attracting as many new clients as we once were.
  • Clients are leaving our company to go elsewhere for solutions.
  • We can’t keep up with innovations in our industry.
  • There’s nothing unique about our product line.
  • We no longer offer the most cost-effective solution.
  • We feel demotivated to innovate.

What Could Solving This Problem Do?

Now imagine what things would look like if you overcame this obstacle. Could you boost revenues? Expand your product offerings? Serve customers in new ways? Stop stressing at night?

Spend some time envisioning that problem solved. It feels good, doesn’t it? Keep that feeling as you work through the next questions.

What Areas Are Our Competitors Weak In?

If you pay attention to the competition, you can identify gaps in their offerings and weaknesses in their operations. These should be your first strategy: to fill those gaps and serve the market in ways the competition cannot. Here are a few examples of how your competitors might be missing the mark:

  • Slow customer service response time
  • High number of returns
  • Not personalized service
  • No strong social media presence
  • No new products

Knowing the areas that are ripe for the picking can give you direction in your innovation and help you decide which aspect of your business you should focus on next.

How Can We Overdeliver on Value?

You may not have the budget to invent the next tech wondertoy. You may not be able to afford to be the lowest price solution. And that’s okay.  Delivering value to your customers can come in a myriad of ways:

  • Offer a free gift with purchase
  • Give an hour of complimentary consultation with services package
  • Call your customers personally
  • Assign a sales rep to each client
  • Provide access to online tools and resources

What Do Our Customers Want?

Even if you’re not sure how to innovate, your customers will let you know. Listen to them: on social media, in person, via email, and through surveys. Get their feedback on how your company is doing, its weaknesses, and what they wish you did better. Then act on this feedback.

Being stuck in a rut can be a temporary situation if you’re willing to do the work to get out of it and back on track.