Continuous innovation is important for the growth of any business. All innovation ultimately begins as a simple idea, but bringing that idea to life requires thoughtful and effective experimentation to reach a larger goal.
As successful business leaders, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council understand that testing must be done in a careful, controlled environment with clear metrics and benchmarks. Below, eight of them each share one step you should always take when testing out a new idea and explain how that step helps achieve the best end results.
1. Establish Constraints
Establish the constraints with which you'll evaluate the new idea. Be thoughtful about this and stick with it, even if your experiment doesn't go the way you expected. If you say that you're going to test an idea, software, process, etc. for three weeks, make sure you really mean it! If you've planned well enough, what you may find is that your idea will be better served by conducting multiple smaller experiments. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate more effectively between shorter milestones and innovate more quickly. - Christopher Tarantino, Epicenter Innovation
2. Gather Feedback
Whenever I’m trying to innovate or carve a new niche out for my business within my industry, an important first step is to always gather feedback from everyone on the team. Sometimes this means a minimally viable prototype of a product needs to be built, and sometimes it could just mean emailing a simple survey to the team about a new workflow process improvement. Gathering feedback internally from all employees regardless of title is a crucial piece of this process because it can shed light on potentially negative outcomes that may be overlooked by some team members. The very essence of true innovation is uncertainty—that’s what makes the results so special—so gaining as much intel as possible before investing too much into full production is crucial for success. - Richard Fong, Bliss Drive
3. Split Test
Split testing is an excellent way to test your ideas without a commitment. Essentially, this type of testing can be used on virtually every aspect of your marketing strategy and user interface. It involves changing one or more elements of your campaign or design and comparing it to the original version. The goal is to see if your experiment gets more traffic, engagement or clicks when compared to the live version on your site. As you experiment with calls to action, color schemes and offers, you'll slowly fine-tune your business based on how people respond to your tests. - John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
4. Set Budgets
We typically take a percentage of the budget to test. That way, all of our eggs aren't in one basket and we're able to judge success without messing up what is working. It allows us to get client-side approval as well. Then we evaluate the results and decide if we want to double down on the strategy, test a variation or determine it as nonviable for the time being. A separate budget for testing, research and development is key in innovating thoughtfully and judging the results. We also typically give specific time periods for such tests. - Ethan Kramer, EK Creative
5. Use UX Research Frameworks
Undoubtedly, businesses thrive and survive off their ability to innovate, move the needle and not become complacent or comfortable with the status quo. That said, experimentation needs to be done diligently, thoughtfully and always with a strategic lens. When it comes to testing new ideas and introducing new service lines or product features, it’s incredibly important to canvass plenty of potential users directly to gain candid and unfiltered insights and perspectives. Additionally, consider using some user experience (UX) research framework to pose thoughtful questions and gather this objective feedback. - Rong Zhang, Hirect
6. Define The Resources Needed
It's important to understand the potential resources and timelines needed to bring an idea to fruition. Oftentimes, management teams can overlook shortages in development time or shortages in a number of new processes that will be absolutely necessary for a project to have a chance at success. By taking the time to spell out what resources will be needed, even for an MVP, the likelihood of success with the project can increase dramatically. In addition, management teams will be more likely to prioritize projects that are most synergistic with their existing resources. - Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC
7. Consider Scalability
The whole point of coming up with these great ideas is to have them be scalable. That means you can see them through to fruition and you can easily expand to new markets, products and services. The idea doesn't need to be one-size-fits-all. The point of an innovative idea is that you can make it work in a lot of different ways, and that's actually a good thing because then it's easier to figure out how to turn it into a sustainable business. If a lot of your time and money is going toward something that's going to be a flop, then you're just wasting your time and resources. Moreover, you need to find the ideas that fall into the sweet spot where they're relatively easy to execute and it feels like they're going to be successful. - Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
We wait instead of jumping on the shiny new thing. This is our single most important vetting tool, because if an idea is just as exciting and seemingly valid a few weeks or especially a few months down the line, then we know we are onto something that warrants further attention. - James Simpson, GoldFire Studios
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