5 Examples of Innovative Small Businesses and What We Can Learn From Them 9 Dec 2019


For years, RadioShack was the place to buy electronics. By 2015, it was filing for bankruptcy. What happened?

RadioShack’s profits soared by selling CB radios and personal computers. But, it failed to innovative. When places like Best Buy started offering e-commerce options, RadioShack was still focusing on physical stores.

RadioShack missed out on the e-commerce trend. Then it destroyed any chance of a comeback by ignoring a second crucial market trend.

DIYers were a growing group of people interested in creating robots and other electronic components. RadioShack didn’t stock the right parts for DIY projects. Eventually, customers started turning to other businesses.

What can we learn from RadioShack? As Steve Jobs brought out “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” RadioShack lost its industry leadership by ignoring innovation opportunities. Refusing to innovate sabotages your business’s future. If RadioShack’s example shows why you need to innovate, then innovative businesses reveal how you can innovate.

Learning from innovative small businesses can provide you with the ideas you need to improve your business. Let’s look at 5 companies and discover what we can learn from them.

Inventive Products Help You Stand Out

Taking an inventive approach to your products can help you stand out from your competitors. It can also solve your customers’ problems.

For example, people who care about the environment aren’t fond of plastic wrap’s disposable nature. Enter, Bee’s Wrap’s reusable and compostable food wrap. Bee’s Wrap biodegradable food wrap is lighter than other food sealants options. It’s also able to conform to any food shape. Bee’s Wrap’s food wrap helps save the planet and customers’ money.

Innovative products could also put your business on the radar of large chain stores. Apeel Sciences created a spray that keeps produce fresh for longer. Grocery stores soon picked up on this invention and asked Apeel to stock its product in their stores.

Bee’s Wrap and Apeel Sciences attracted customers by making innovative products. How can you use innovative products in your business?

  • Lean into what makes your product or service different. Identify and advertise what makes your products different from the competition.
  • Add innovative products. If your product line seems basic, add something to spice it up.

Inventive products grab customers’ attention, but you need the right products for your audience.

How can you discover what your market wants?

A startup founder tailors her website to her intended audience.

Knowing Your Market Makes Innovation Easy

Understanding who your target audience is and what they want ensures you meet their needs. It may also reveal holes in the industry your business can solve.

One new mom became frustrated because she had no way of learning if places were kid-friendly. So she and another mom started Winnie, a review service for parents. Knowing their audience helped Winnie’s founders create an innovative product.

Understanding your market also helps you discover ideas you can put your business’s spin on. For instance, a burned-out professional started using meditation to relax. She realized that other professionals could benefit from using a straightforward form of meditation. She created Simple Habit, aimed at overworked office workers. While meditation has been around for hundreds of years, innovating her approach to it and focusing on a specific type of user drew in customers.

Winnie and Simple Habit use their knowledge of the market to innovate. How can you use market research to innovate?

  • Know your market well. Research your industry. Who’s your target audience? What do they need? How can you provide it in a way that’s different than the competition?
  • Look for ways to customize these trends to your business. You may find new ideas that you can personalize to your customers.

Knowing your market helps your products stay relevant to your customers. Market research also updates you on your industry’s trends. By keeping your options open, you can innovate quickly when you see a chance.

Keeping Your Options Open Lets You Innovate Rapidly

Keeping your options open gives your company room to innovate. As your market changes and your business grows, being able to innovate quickly keeps your business model flexible.

Warby Parker, an eyeglass company, refused to restrict itself. Instead of limiting itself to an e-commerce company, they bided their time and built up their business.

After growing their client base and raising seed money, Warby Parker started making physical stores where customers could get eye exams. Because Warby Parker decided to keep their options open, its stores drew in a flood of customers.

Instead of limiting itself, Warby Parker looked for opportunities to expand its business. How can you keep your business’s options open?

  • Don’t decide on things too early. Give your business time to grow and expand before making major decisions.
  • Look for ways to diversify. Unexpected avenues may open up as your business ages.

Leaving your options open helps your business grow. Innovative companies can lead the way for other companies trying to innovate. Will you follow their example?

Will Your Business Make the Innovation List?

RadioShack used to be the place customers went for electronics. However, by 2015 it was bankrupt. What destroyed RadioShack? Lack of innovation. Learning from innovative companies helps you keep your business alive.

Apeel Sciences used innovative products to attract big customers. Winnie made good use of their market knowledge by solving their customers’ needs. Warby Parker left its options open and added physical stores along with their online store.

Innovation is the key to growing your business. Your company can stand the test of time by taking advantage of innovative new ideas.