By Lizl Naude, founder of Lilly Loompa
I CAN’T SWIM! At the age of 38, that is an embarrassing confession to make. Three weeks ago, I decided to finally change that narrative and started taking swimming lessons!
Since then, I have had to defeat the uneasiness about my body and all its flaws. I birthed two children and the consequences of that are clear! With all my bumps and bruises, I have had to walk pass many on-lookers and nosy parents (and dread their judgemental looks) while I learn to swim alongside their five to ten-year olds! But above all, I have had to overcome the fear of the water and the possibility of drowning.
It got me thinking - as entrepreneurs, we face challenges like these daily. But more than that, we have to overcome the lack of innovating…yes! Sometimes we go about our entrepreneurial chores, and they become mundane. Don’t get me wrong, my days are not mundane. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about my work taking me to far-off places and getting noticed by great industry players…and then, just as quickly, I discard those dreams as I continue with the mundane responsibilities.
One of my dreams is to learn how to swim. In realising that dream, I have had to innovate. I have had to re-invent myself. Change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis, reorganization, restructuring, rearrangement, recasting, remodelling, renovation, restyling, variation are all synonyms of innovation.
So, if you are tired of the mundane, here are some practical ways you can apply innovation and innovative thinking in your business:
Try a new method
Just like you try different routes when you’re driving, try and apply new methods of doing daily tasks. In my craft, which is furniture-making, there are many cutting tools to use to complete a product. When I am completing a design, I sometimes use a grinder, instead of a jig-saw. I have been pleasantly surprised, as the grinder burns the wood and gives it a different texture.
How about moving your desk the other way? It will give you a different view on things. Encourage your staff to do the same, without impacting productivity. I get the craziest ideas when I move out of my normal place of work. This encourages radical and creative thinking, which if applied correctly, can benefit your business greatly.
Try the unlikely
Pair the unlikely together. Who knew chocolates and chillies would go well together? Or bacon and banana? We didn’t until someone dared to try them! Why not run a promotion where you sell your product by adding an unlikely freebie! “Buy this lamp and get a free movie ticket!” This will add an element of surprise and build customer loyalty.
We hear this all the time, but just like jumping in the pool at the deep end, it scares us! Take the leap…design that show-stopper product! When you’re done, wrap it in the most beautiful packaging and send (or even better, hand-deliver) it to the top player in your industry as a gift! Don’t forget to add a return address and details!
Break away from tradition
This might be hard to hear, but sometimes we prefer the traditional approach and resist innovation. Innovation can favour your business tremendously! Traditionalism says you work from 9-5. Innovation says work when you feel like it…but deliver on your goals! Research has shown that employees who work flexi-hours are more productive than those working more traditional hours.
At one stage considered a swear word in business, many companies are today realising the tremendous potential that collaboration has for their businesses. So, instead of competing for the same market, why not try and collaborate with one of your competitors? If you feel too nervous about long-term commitments, try working on a project-basis first.
Bottom line - innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any business or organization.
Maybe some of us think it is too late to take on our dreams. We fear that too much time has passed, or we worry what others may think. We scurry around daily to make ends meet and put off our wild dreams for later. How about pursuing them now? How about forgetting the birth pains and scars of our entrepreneurial battles and venturing into new, innovative ground?
Lizl Naude is the founder of Lilly Loompa in South Africa, a company that creates beautiful and usable furniture pieces made with recycled material. Lilly Loompa's “Rubbish Range” is the result of Lizl's craving to deliver pieces that are completely "green". Lizl is a self taught designer and started designing and making furniture because she couldn’t afford to buy new pieces to furnish her home. She started to scout and source for budget material and quickly realised that most people discard of very usable materials. This led to her building and designing beautiful furniture items that she used in her home.
Read more articles by Lizl....