Research and Development Tips for Small Business


Innovation has become a buzzword for modern businesses

The competitive advantage for businesses that are continuously refining or reinventing their offerings is one of the most critical aspects for growth in a global market. Every business has the capacity to improve its products and services. Through managing the scope and cost of these changes even small businesses can be innovators. The evolution of your products and services must be driven by a system that encourages and fosters ideas in four key areas:

1. Improving your product quality

What does quality mean for your business? There are two ways to improve quality:  by increasing efficiency from an operations perspective and perceived value from a marketing perspective. Customers’ buy your product because they have a degree of confidence in receiving a consistent level of quality from your business. Both marketing and operations may be doing what they feel is best for their goals, but unless they cooperate there could be significant repercussions to the overall product.


Tip: Your first goal should be to meet your customer’s minimum expectations 100 percent of the time.


2. Adding value to your products

The value you create for your customers is the primary function for your business operations. Value is anything that you add to your products and services that increase their usefulness beyond your costs. The more your customer perceives your offerings to be valuable to them the more they are willing to pay and the less they will be inclined to shop around.. The most direct way to add value is by offering new or improved products and services to your customers. Adding new products or features to your existing products or improving the functionality of your existing features are some ways to add value.

Tip: Consider your customers’ needs and think of ways to expand vertically, horizontally or laterally to meet their needs.

3. Updating your product line

Adjusting the size and complexity of your offerings can represent another opportunity for adding value. By expanding your product line you can better accommodate your customers’ needs. Adding new products also requires an adjustment of your marketing strategy but not necessarily production activities. Many businesses are expanding their product lines through outsourcing. Simplifying your product line can be a strategic tool to reduce production costs or eliminate redundancy in product lines. It is easier to focus production quality on fewer products with more distinctive uses.

4. Improving packaging

The value in your products can be increased by modifying the way they are packaged and sold. The most direct form of packaging improvement is to modify its housing such as a change to  the container design or material, information and labeling or production process. The other aspect of packaging that can be adjusted is bundling, where value is increased by increasing sales volume at a discount or incorporating other products and services into the purchase. Often bundling is used to create a more engaging experience for the customer by providing additional utility beyond the core product.

Tip: While many in your industry may use bundling, the unique way your business bundles can be a key differentiating factor from the competition.

Building an Idea Machine starts with an Innovative Mindset

New ideas come from a wide variety of sources and perceptive business leaders are ones who are constantly looking to add value to their products and services. While there is no right way to conduct research and development, by thinking in a structured way about your current offerings you can increase the value and innovation of the products you produce. Your corporate culture will play a significant role here. An environment that promotes and rewards the sharing of ideas will do more to encourage this.

Is your business ready to scale up R&D? Take our free Business Strength Test.

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