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How to boost your business and become more innovative

Introduction from Nicki Hudson, Head of Employer Services for Rise at Calderdale College:

“When business pressures mount, it can be hard to look at your organisation objectively. This can mean focusing on business innovation takes a back seat. However, innovation can be an excellent tool to help support businesses in overcoming hurdles presented in an uncertain economy.

“Despite popular belief, innovating your business doesn’t have to mean investing in thousand of pounds worth of technology or development. Instead, it’s about being flexible to market changes and looking at how you can better prepare your company for uncertainty. Through this guide we hope to provide you with a useful resource to explore innovation options within your business and help your organisation thrive during these challenging times.” 

Identifying areas to innovate

Innovation doesn’t have to mean investing in big ticket items, it can be as straightforward as upskilling a member of your team, or adjusting the way you process your funds. This can make knowing which areas to innovate in tricky. The below chart is designed to help you identify they key areas within your business for innovation and build a stronger, more resilient business model for the future.

Assess your business model and identify areas of opportunity or improvement

Speak to customers and clients and gain insight into their needs, and how your business can help meet them

Once you’ve identified how your business can adapt to better support customer needs, identify gaps or hurdles to this new approach

Consider how you can upskill your team to help plug any gaps identified and train your team accordingly

Set measurable goals for your new innovation so you can be sure new methods are performing

Once your team is trained and you’re rolling out your new innovation, consistently review it to ensure it’s as effective as possible.

In the matrix we can see that training forms an important part of innovating for your business. At Rise, we are specialists in skills provision, and can help local businesses to access free and part funded training to help plug gaps. We are also well connected within the local business community, so can point businesses in the direction of other support services available.

Top tips to being more innovative

Innovation is vital for business, and can offer a lifeline during difficult economic times, when traditional trading opportunities are restricted. These top tips are designed to help you build a more innovative organisation and develop a robust future for your business.

  1. Start with your customers: By assessing your customers needs and looking at how you can innovate your business model to meet the demand, you are more likely to succeed. There is no point in being innovative for innovation’s sake. Always have a strong goal in mind, and make sure it’s customer focused.
  2. Involve your full team: Your team is your single most valuable asset. Ensure that your innovation plans are inclusive and sense check them with your wider team where appropriate. This can help overcome teething pains and also open up conversations for even further innovation.
  3. Scope out the competition: To build competitive edge through innovation, it’s important to know what’s already on offer and how you can build a point of difference that will appeal to customers. Conduct competitor research and ensure that these findings inform your plans.
  4. Identify skills gaps: Often the biggest hurdle to innovation is resource. If you have ambitious plans, but are struggling to realise them, it may be that you are missing the vital skills you need to succeed.
  5. Plug those gaps: Once you’ve identified skills gaps, it’s vital that you plug them. Touch base with an expert in skills to discover how you can access funding and support to upskill your team.

Where to access support

The Calderdale business ecosystem is rich with support opportunities for businesses. Here at Rise we are strong advocates of the following organisation that work to help mobilise and support businesses during challenging times.

  • Rise – At Rise we are dedicated to help support local businesses with their skills provision. From free and part funded courses to free to access advice, our team of local business experts are on hand to support and advise your business at all times, but especially during such uncertainty. You can contact us by calling 01422 418 430 or email: employers@calderdale.ac.uk and one of our expert advisors will be in touch.
  • Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council ‘Support for Businesses’ – This resource is an excellent signposting tool to help businesses access Coronavirus funding support, and other programmes available to them on a local, regional and national level. Find out more via the Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council website: https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus/businesses/support
  • Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership – The Leeds City Region LEP provides support and funding to help businesses grow, attract new investment to the region, and develop the skills, energy and digital infrastructure to create jobs and prosperity. Access the wealth of support available here: https://www.the-lep.com/
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority Growth Service – Through the Growth Service, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) brings together public and private sector partners to promote, coordinate and deliver a wide range of business support based on local needs. For more information visit: https://www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/growing-the-economy/growth-service/
  • UK business support hub – This resource offers business support to help ease the pressures of the pandemic. Get in touch with the experts at Rise and they will point you in the right direction to access loans, tax relief, cash grants and self-employed trading profit grants.

Find out more at the Gov Business Support website here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support