This past year Babson College published a report titled “The State of Small Business in America” which performed an analysis showing the opportunities and difficulties that small business owners face. The survey polled insights from a wide variety of 1,800 small business that had a minimum of four employees and a revenue of at least $150,000. The survey revealed that there is an extraordinary amount of innovation happening in America’s small businesses. The study noted that more than one-third of small businesses are researching and developing new products, almost half are in the process of launching a new product or service, and about two-thirds are revamping their current products to be of higher quality.
Most small business owners do not see themselves as innovators but more as company managers trying to outshine their competition. It appears that the majority of this innovation is coming through five different mediums. Below are some examples of small businesses and how they are using these five different methods.
New Products - Vinit Dhruva, owns DFW Motel Supply and Textiles NJ, a company that supplies motels with all sorts of products. One new product they introduced was an alarm clock that automatically deletes the setting implemented to it after a night’s stay. This prevents a new guest from being woken up from the previous guest's alarm settings.
New Methods – Evelyn Rodriguez is the owner of Aquiline Group, a full-service marketing company. She says that her company uses innovation as a way to "to be able to deliver our services in a way that we can distinguish ourselves."
New Markets – Beulah Trey owns Vector Consulting Group which provides executive coaching to health care leaders. Beulah’s idea of innovation is taking note when all other companies are doing things the same way. That'e when they know it's time to start looking for new areas to grow.
New Sources of Supply – Gene Sausse owns BooKoo Bounce in New Orleans which is a trampoline arena and video arcade. He was able to partner with the supplier of arcade equipment and brought them on to maintain equipment and even have them provide some of the initial investment funds.
New Market Structures – Martin Parisien, is the co-owner of the vanilla company, Singing Dog Vanilla. Singing Dog does not use a distributor for their products and they even refuse to do business with customers who want them to use a distributor.