As we go through “the new normal,” it is clear that many of the changes we have gone through over the past few months are here to stay . And that in the coming years, the transformations of the markets will only accelerate. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the good news is that they are naturally more prepared to adapt.
Why? Because, if they are healthy companies, on the one hand they have a good customer base, financial strength and a deep knowledge of their markets. And at the same time, and unlike large corporations, they have the necessary agility to test new products and services.
Of course, the success of any innovation project is never guaranteed. And that is why it is important that, faced with an increasingly changing demand, SMEs focus on their skills and strengths through three main strategies. Let’s see what they are.
A continuous investment in innovation
One of the keys to the success of those entrepreneurs who transformed their markets is that they were able to anticipate changes and new consumer demands . This not only means detecting new opportunities first, but developing products and services and launching them into the market without still having the certainty that they are the right ones, or even that the market is ready. And that implies hours of work and money invested in research and development, prototype development and beta testing, adjustments and launching of new versions … Until the desired response is obtained.
For SMEs, the main challenge is to innovate without neglecting the daily operation . But they also have to learn to prioritize efforts, make smart investments (because money is never too much), take measured risks, and accept that there will be projects that will not yield any results . But they will always leave some teaching.
The most direct path to innovation is to focus on what our consumers need and have not yet found in the market . And not, as is often the case, in our most disruptive ideas, or in what we think our clients really want. For this reason, in the midst of markets that are transforming at an increasingly accelerated rate, it is vital that SMEs have personnel who are permanently investigating what is happening in their consumer niche.
And it is not just about doing surveys, or focus groups, when we are determined to do a new development. Mechanisms must be defined to keep in constant contact with customers, to listen to them and talk with them , and to put the magnifying glass on what the competition does. And also to collaborate with other players in the market, with whom the same audience is shared and the interest in knowing more about it.
For a good idea to become a profitable product or service, it takes cross collaboration between different areas of the company . For example, to understand the needs of the market, those who are in charge of manufacturing a prototype need the Marketing department. But also the design team, or the funds and the feasibility analysis of the project approved by the Finance area.
This is especially true for SMEs, which have smaller teams and fewer resources than a larger company. To guarantee success, or at least get closer to it, it is essential that every project has a leader, and that he is in direct contact with the owner of the company. Collaboration with external agents, such as researchers, technology developers and trend analysts, are also essential .
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