Innovation and enterprise blog

06 May 2015

Unlocking the Growth Mindset for SMEs

What does innovation look like? It’s a key question for SMEs looking to grow, but one that can be hard to make the time to address when busy keeping on top of day-to-day business needs.

Last week I attended our ‘Growth club’ at the Business & IP Centre – an event for businesses who have participated in our Innovating for Growth programme, which provides free support for small companies with big ambitions. The theme of the evening was ‘Unlocking the Growth Mindset’, and the event started with a talk by Michelle Keaney and Mike Straw of Inventing Futures, a business consultancy that works with entrepreneurs to deliver personal, organisational and societal level transformations (and successful alumni of Innovating for Growth).

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Michelle began by highlighting the level of start-up enthusiasm in the country: over 580,000 new businesses were created in 2014, an increase on previous years and the equivalent of one new start-up per minute. However, not all of these new businesses survive – so how can SMEs innovate to make sure they continue to meet the needs of the market and remain ahead of the competition?

Mike spoke about the concept of questioning assumptions as a key strategy - treatingthe concept of innovation not simply as ‘new ideas’, but as a liberation from conventional thinking. SMEs should make time to stop and ask questions:

  • Are we doing things in our business just because ‘we’ve always done them’?
  • Are we reviewing the assumptions we’ve made about market, customer, and product?
  • Are these assumptions still true?

Being aware of that ‘little voice’ in your head and what it tells you about your business can be an important skill.

The talk also covered creating the environment in which innovation can thrive. Leadership power was a key point, defined as ‘the speed from which you can take your ideas to reality’, and requiring the freedom and confidence to act on your ideas – Mike emphasised the value of creating openings for innovation to happen, of not dismissing possibilities, and of ‘planning in action’ – doing, as well as thinking.

After the talk, we were given the chance to chat in the Business & IP Centre.  As well as business advice and support, the Innovating for Growth programme provides a great opportunity for participants to network with each other, and I witnessed a fair few business cards being swapped! Speaking to other attendees, they had found the talk useful in helping them think outside of their everyday work to focus on innovation and growth strategy, and were eager to share their thoughts.  

Apply to now to receive £10,000 worth of business support. 

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Innovating for Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund

Sally Jennings on behalf of the Business & IP Centre 

 

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