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Breaking the mould – what does it really mean to be an innovator?

A recent email from a client about innovation made me smile.

Because innovation is a huge topic, and to many small businesses it represents the stress of reinventing the wheel. Disruption, uncertainty, chaos … as if we haven’t had enough of that already!

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What I love is his down-to-earth, practical view from the coal-face of one of the worst-hit lockdown sectors – tourist hospitality.

Robin has kindly allowed me to share his thoughts & experiences with you …


“The two of us run a hotel. There are lots of hotels in our area. Why are we more successful than the others? Why did we end up on an Accommodation Gold List? It’s not because we focus entirely on our clients’ (unit owners) return or focus entirely on our guests’ (customers) holiday, but because we understand that you need to achieve both things to be successful. And we’ve done that by simply being ourselves.

We’ve taken the skills we’ve learned over the years, combined it with our personalities, and created an environment that is not the usual management rights hotel. The guests love it, the owners are rapt, and we’re exhausted.

My point is that we do things differently here, and because we’re the boss, we don’t have to conform to a mandated standard of behaviour. We can be ourselves. Which seems to be working.

The hardest part of innovation is breaking out of the mould that society sets for you. I’m constantly defending the way we operate. Not to our clients, but to our peers.

They say ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘if you do that you’ll just give yourself more work’, or ‘we tried that, it didn’t work’. What they were actually telling us is that we were rocking the boat and they could end up looking bad because of that.

To innovate, you need to raise the bar. And to raise the bar, you need to let your personality and talents run free.”

The most important line in that statement is about having to defend himself “not to our clients, but to our peers”. And as a result of daring to be different, coming out of lockdown he’s operating at capacity.

Innovation is about seeking approval from your customers above all else. For being in tune with their changing needs, and delivering a solution with a human touch, that reflects you as a real person.

How Robin’s managed to stand out and buck the trend is included in our FREE, hands-on Zoom workshop, Business Opportunity Breakthrough on Weds 21 April. Celebrating World Creativity & Innovation Week #IAmCreative.

You too can be the success story, and create the future you want!

By Judy Celmins, ThrivableBiz

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