If small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, it’s easy to see why innovation is the lifeblood of those businesses. Without innovation to keep small businesses competitive and thriving, they might quickly die out when competing against their larger counterparts.
Much of the noteworthy innovation of the past few years has involved emerging technology, but the way a business operates and addresses challenges in its industry is also vital for its growth. Eco-friendly products, services, and processes are also important to the overall economic health of small businesses as consumers are more aware of how their buying choices affect the environment. Note a few of the best small business innovations of the past year and how they’ve helped those businesses grow and thrive in today’s competitive climate.
A blockchain is a type of electronic distributed ledger that allows various parties to interact with certain parts of that ledger without the need for point-to-point communication. Every interaction forms a block and those blocks then become part of that entire ledger, which is why it’s called a chain.
Consider an example of how blockchain works. A company orders materials from an overseas supplier. The request for quote is one block, the order itself is another, the bill of lading is another, the invoice is another, and so on. Each party responsible for those individual blocks will only have access to the part of the chain they need. Also, once a block is added to that chain, it cannot be deleted or altered, allowing for full transparency of transactions.
Similar to apps on a smart phone, assistant bots are programmed to follow a small number of commands for tasks designed to assist in the office or for your company in general. An assistant bot might keep track of your calendar and create reminders for events, note when certain payments are due, or filter emails and messages in order of importance. These bots are invaluable for small business owners who cannot afford to hire an assistant and who might struggle to stay organized while running their business!
A swarm team forms for the sole purpose of solving a particular problem as quickly as possible and then disbanding and returning to their normal duties just as quickly! Swarm teams allow small business owners to take advantage of a wide range of talent on their staff, as opposed to static teams or departments who work together over the year, and without tying up everyone’s time with endless meetings.
A co-working space functions much like a small, rented office inside a larger suite, except that today’s co-working spaces are more group-friendly and oriented toward sharing experiences and insight with others in that same space. For example, a co-working office might schedule team building exercises open to anyone who rents space in that office as well as others who want to attend. Co-working spaces might also include areas and times set aside specifically for networking with others in that same space, so you can discuss challenges you’re facing in your business with those more experienced or able to offer solutions, and vice versa.
As more consumers expect and even demand eco-friendly products and services from area businesses, green initiatives are vital for the success of small businesses. These initiatives include websites that track the supply chain of various products, to ensure they have the last impact on the environment as possible. Other green initiatives might also include eco-friendly options for industry specific products and services, such as air conditioning refrigerant, home insulation, cleaning products, and so on.
Green initiatives allow small business owners to meet consumer demands for eco-friendly products and processes with minimal amount of research. Rather than having to spend hours searching online for eco-friendly products, they can partner or align with these initiatives for notification of improved products and services that are specific to their industry.
Lead Generation Websites
In times past, small businesses paid for advertising through Google and social media sites in the hopes of getting quality leads. Lead generation websites bypass that cost and work by creating sites specifically designed to generate quality leads for local contractors and small businesses. Many such site designers maintain the site under their umbrella and get paid per quality lead, rather than designing the site and leaving it in the hands of a business owner.
Lead generation websites ensure that a contractor or small business owner pays only for quality leads rather than online ads that may or may not generate leads, and ensure the site is found online quickly and easily. These sites take the guesswork out of the lead generation process, allowing a business owner to focus on running their business rather than trying to maintain a website and online marketing plan.