Small business organizations often think that “innovation” is some deep, mysterious capability best left to big organizations. That’s not true — as the engines of the economy, there is plenty of opportunity for smaller organizations to change what they do and how they do it to accelerate their opportunities!
There are a number of reasons why there is unprecedented opportunity for innovation within the small / medium enterprise sector:
- the emergence of the contingent workforce: there has never been a better time for professionals and individuals with specialized knowledge to set up shop, and provide their services to a vast global client base.
- complexity drives partnership: as the high velocity economy evolves, organizations are finding an increased need for solutions to very complex problems; often, the only solution might be a very unique company or individual that is focused on that one particular issue.
- opportunity is endless: countless new markets, products, and new business models are merging on a continuous basis. Who will sell, support and service the new line of intelligent highway cones?
- flexibility is easy: one of the video clips will tell the story of a wood mouldings manufacturer I spent some time with; their innovation story, involving how they turned the tables on Home Depot through a logistics innovation, is truly inspiring. You don’t have to be a big organization to succeed with innovation: you simply need an open mind and a will to change.
- lifestyle drives decisions: I bailed out of the corporate sector, and have been working out of a home office for 18 years. I have never regretted a moment, and now see a massive trend of people making the same lifestyle decision.
- rapid emergence of new markets: I identified the outdoor living room trend in 2003 — and today, already, the outdoor living product market is now estimated at $15.7 billion, or 37% of total lawn and garden spending. There are a vast number of small and medium organizations who saw the trend unfold, and jumped in. Those types of rapid opportunities will continue to emerge in the future.
- lower cost to innovate: the cost of sophisticated technology continues to drop. SME’s today can do things that were the domain of Fortune 500’s five years ago; tomorrow, they’ll be the most sophisticated operators on the planet, able to suddenly shift their skills and resources; marketing strategies and campaigns; operating methodology and structure. If they innovate correctly, they can do the things that big business does — but do it better.
- new careers are emerging: think location intelligence professionals, hospitalists and manure managers (yes, seriously.) These are all some of the new careers unfolding before our very eyes: they’ve been covered in this blog, and are featured in the new book. Many new careers can emerge within the structure of the SME economy.
- it fits the fundamental transformation of business: there is a new workforce emerging, and SME’s are a big part of it. There is plenty of opportunity for skills provision on a global basis as we transition from a 20th century organizational model to the flexible, adaptable, scalable structure of the 21st.
- the barriers to innovation are fewer: my experience has taught me that small and medium sized organizations have little of the “organizational sclerosis” that clogs up the structure of their larger, Fortune 5000 cousins. They can adapt and react quickly, and often don’t get bogged down in the deadly process of killing innovation with attitudes such as, “you can’t do that because we’ve always done it this way.
Watch this space, and I’ll post a link when the first video/ article goes live, possibly within the next two weeks.