Question: How do you foster innovation in your startup, especially when team members are overburdened?
Question by: Ashley
Stop Doing That!
"Refocus your startup on the essential projects needed to reach your immediate goals and stop doing everything else for now. By pushing your team to do too much too soon, you'll lose the excitement that comes with innovating in a new business."
Make Innovation a KPI
"Innovation can be a Key Performance Indicator, just like revenue or expenses. If you prioritize innovation as an extra metric that you track, it will incentivize creativity among team members. You could track contributions by team members during brainstorm meetings, new ideas added to an internal company list, or dollars saved by implementing innovative processes."
Mentor, Consultant or Coach
"Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees, you're too close to your own business and processes. That's where getting a mentor, consultant, or coach really comes in handy. Someone with an outside perspective -- who isn't overburdened -- can think more clearly and come up with innovate solutions."
Set a Lofty Goal
"We pick a lofty goal that we want to shoot to hit that month, and hold an all-team brainstorm on how to make it happen. By pulling us out of our usual to-do lists, we end up coming up with a ton of creative new ideas and initiatives that end up extending beyond whatever that current goal is."
Schedule It In
"One of the best ways you can foster innovation is to make space for it in the company schedule. This could look like monthly brainstorming meetings, a company retreat, or simply making it a discussion point during your one-on-ones. By designating time for it, you make it a priority."
"Ramble Meetings are freeform brainstorming at its best. Put away the computers, phones and distractions and throw out crazy ideas. It can be one hour a day, or once a week -- it's your choice, but you need to do it, or else the very engine of growth that propels your company forward will slow down."
Blogs and Webinars
"I always encourage my team members to read blog posts about content marketing and attend webinars in order to learn more and foster ideas. I also have a large list of blogs in my RSS feeder that I read on a regular basis."
Set Aside Play Time
"I think it's really important to set aside play time where team members can simply focus on things that they enjoy doing and that give them the ability to be completely creative without confinement. When allowing your team members to play and explore, they will then often come up with other ideas and innovations that will help push the business forward."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.