How innovation can help a niche business

As any good businessperson will tell you, innovation is a key ingredient in the success of any venture, and this includes niche businesses. Innovation can be defined as changes to something that is already established. It can mean the introduction of new products or services or a new way of doing things. Innovation is critical for a niche business because the ability to provide something unique is what is going to help differentiate you from your rivals in a focused, intensely competitive market.

Innovation can assume many different forms. Incremental innovation improves the efficiency of systems that already exist, while process innovation implements a new or significantly improved production or delivery system

Blue ocean innovation refers to unknown or untapped markets where competition is irrelevant in the initial period because the market remains undefined. It can refer to the expansion of existing industry boundaries or the creation of entirely new boundaries.

Disruptive innovation is the creation of a new market and value proposition that will ultimately disrupt an existing market and then displace an earlier technology.

The role of technology in innovation

Technology has played a major role in innovation. Existing businesses have been able to use technology to identify and implement new product or service ideas that target particular niches within their area of expertise.

Technology might have the ability to enhance the customer experience, but if customers are not made aware of the technology and how it can help them, the technology might as well stay on the shelf.  Take the example of Indian agrochemical producer United Phosphorus Ltd. Led by a management team that includes executive director Jai Shroff, United Phosphorus plans to leverage its crop protection expertise to become a one-stop farm solution provider, combining applied research with proactive marketing and distribution strategies. Innovation often arises at the research and development stage, but the mechanisms to market the potential value to customers are critical.

It may seem like a cliché, but the saying that no one likes change contains a great degree of truth. By definition, innovation involves change, so you need to have employees buy into that philosophy. Good communication is critical. Talk to employees about why change is necessary and ask for feedback.  You should also listen to any ideas that employees might have.

The importance of good communication extends to customers. It would not be unusual for customers to provide the inspiration for innovation in discussions with a product or service provider about their needs. In the process of meeting the bespoke needs of a particular customer, a new niche can be identified and built upon.

As a niche business owner, you need to be able to market yourself as providing something that other organizations cannot provide. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you need to be adaptable to changes in the business environment so that your organization stays in shape and your customers stay with you. In other words, innovation needs to be a driving force.