Earlier in the year I took an extended business trip/holiday in the United States, and I brought back an astounding assortment of new ideas and knowledge.
Silicon Valley is known for its innovation – it attracts some of the smartest dreamers and do-ers in the world. Brilliant minds are drawn like moths to a flame. And the money follows. There’s so much start-up cash available from angel investors and venture capital firms, the area is almost swimming in hundred-dollar bills.
And even if your business isn’t technology-related, or you can’t make a pilgrimage to California, you can benefit from applying the Silicon Valley thinking to your own company.
1. If you are not thinking global then you may go out of business.
Welcome talent from afar. The world is a lot larger than your local community. Technology permits people to collaborate from anywhere, even if they never meet in person. When it’s time to hire, look to the world for your applicant pool.
2. Connect your culture.
Make sure that the various teams within your company are all talking to each other. Someone may identify a problem or invent a solution in departments that ordinarily would not be communicating. There may be ideas that come from an unexpected source – do not dismiss anyone’s contribution without first examining it thoroughly.
3. Encourage new thinking within your company.
Solicit suggestions for improvements and new ideas. It’s a critical process for all businesses – innovate, adapt and grow. You may have a billion-dollar idea lurking in your admin team, and you will never know unless you ask for it.
4. When it comes to trying new opportunities, say “yes” more often than you say “no”.
And don’t be too quick to eliminate potential ideas just because they didn’t work the first time. Remember, it took Thomas Edison thousands of tries before he successfully developed the light bulb. Think of them not as failures, but as early versions that didn’t quite succeed.
5. Set aside time for innovation and experimentation.
Do not expect your employees to be thinking about new ideas for your business on their time off. Set aside time during the work week for brainstorming sessions and team or individual projects.
6. Make sure leadership has your employee’s backs.
You can’t encourage your employees to go out on a limb if you won’t support them when they do.
7. Engagement starts at the top.
Don’t expect your employees to care about the business if you and your management team don’t demonstrate even greater commitment.
8. Ethics matter.
Demonstrate that your personal and corporate ethics are in sync and unquestionable. No one wants to work for a boss whose integrity they doubt.
9. Pay it forward.
When you can, make introductions that will help others. Become a mentor to someone who is just starting out. Doing these things may not get you immediate payback, but you will gain something far more valuable: a reputation as a great person to work with, and for.
Silicon Valley is an excellent example of the possibilities that are out there if only you know how to find and develop them. Even if you’re halfway around the world, your business can also emulate the commitment to innovation. Don’t settle for ordinary – your company can be extraordinary.
Finn Kelly is the CEO and co-founder of award-winning Gen Y financial advisory firm,Wealth Enhancers, along with the parent company, premier private wealth management firm WE Private.