Often the focus is around building out the business and testing the innovation.
Your leadership displays clear strengths and previous years have taught you a lot about running the business, although you might have spotted gaps across the management skill-set.
Here, an early stage client and its innovation and growth specialist talk through some of the work and results they have achieved together. Underneath the video you can find information on common priorities at this stage and below the contact form, a full array of areas we can address together.
You might have a good idea of who your customers, or potential customers are, and already have some. But are you talking to them about your offer? Now is the time to test your assumptions. Try to get into their heads, into their worlds, to understand if your idea has potential and solves pain points. You need to offer an incremental benefit.
Are there any blockers? For example, you have found that in large organisations, the sales team loves your product, but then IT pushes back because it is too hard to implement. Therefore you might find smaller client organisations more accessible.
Likewise, quantify the problem your product fixes. It is scalable, or niche?
Settle on your assumptions of your customer’s top five pains and gains and go and talk to them. Politely approach them on LinkedIn, or perhaps we could introduce you to one of our other clients. Consider incentivising your approach to them by offering a free pilot.
Ask open questions. Forget about your solution, look at the customer’s problems. What keeps them awake at night? What would make them look good?
First impressions count. It is important to articulate your value proposition concisely in a way your target audience will connect with.
We ensure our clients who need to refine their value proposition, do so through a canvas which is about the customer’s tasks, pains and gains on one side and your innovation and its benefits on the other. This process will either involve flip charts and post-it notes or an online equivalent.
From there, together, we will map your features to customer pain relievers and gain creators. Then you write a statement in the following format: Our (product / service) / Helps (customer segment) / Which wants to (job to be done) / By (addressing a pain / gain).
Then you learn it by heart and ensure all your communications ‘say’ it, explicitly or not.
To know where you are going, it is important to know where you are starting from. Taking time to properly assess your current business model will help you identify what you have to do and which gaps you have to prioritise.
Much like the value proposition work above, we take our clients through a business model canvas. It reuses the customer segment and value proposition work, then looks at channels to reach those audiences, as well as partners, activities and resources required to do it. Underpinning that, we clarify the cost structure and revenue streams and identify whether sufficient funds are in place.
You have validated your innovation with customer, know its (and your) value, and your business model is there; now it is time to take your prototype and test with customers.
Whether you test with one customer at a time, or multiple, the objective is to discover which features work best and which need improving.
There is a skill to this. Think about the research questions and analyse the data you collect. Do not ask leading questions (do you like this bit / does this help you). Rather, set the participant a task, and ask them to speak their thoughts. Record the sessions and watch them back with your team.
Very often, even getting a prototype created is costly and complicated. We can help you find a partner, and plug you into institutions and centres that may be able to assist. Some clients have been able to access public funding, so there is no cost to them.
The 9 Dimensions of Growth
Through a deep dive analysis at the outset of our engagement with you, we can tailor our support to help you set and realise growth and innovation goals for your business.
Here is a preview of the areas we address, but the full 9 Dimensions audit is delivered by an experienced Innovate UK Business Growth innovation and growth specialist. The audit:
- Is designed to support the growth of innovation-led companies specifically, being based on the nine most pertinent dimensions of business growth
- Provides management teams with a 360º view of their business, identifying the key issues that the business faces and insights into the key priorities to effectively address them
- Shapes the delivery of tailored support with a focus on priorities for action that will enable the company to achieve its growth goals
We’ll help you prioritise issues to tackle
Establishing the ambition and vision of the company, validating the opportunity and developing the strategy, business model and road map to realise this. Covering
- Clarity of vision and market opportunity.
- Level of ambition for your growth life cycle stage.
- Validation of business model - desirability / feasibility / viability.
- Management procedure.
- Innovation culture.
Understanding the alignment between the company’s innovation strategy and the key political, environmental and economic drivers.
Understanding and exploiting the commercial potential of your product/service/technology and equipping you for market readiness.
Building on industry knowledge of market size, industry trends, the value chain and the identification of the right value proposition for key customer segments.
Evaluating your current innovation strategy, processes and methodologies to identify how we can help your innovation commercialise and practice be more effective. Covering:
- Idea generation.
- Idea evaluation, prioritisation and investigation.
- Innovation development.
- Project management.
- Processes for successful commercialisation.
- Monitoring and review of innovation.
- Innovation management standard.
- Internal Capability.
Evaluating the business growth, technical skills and experience within the organisation to help shape a more effective structure and deliver against growth ambitions and innovation potential. Covering:
- Business models for growth.
- Key strengths & weaknesses.
- Drivers and enablers.
- Change management.
Ensuring business readiness for and experience of collaboration for the purposes of business growth and scaling as well as research and technology transfer.
Helping to maximise market and investor potential through the utilisation of Intellectual Property Rights, covering:
- Effective identification, protection and exploitation strategies.
- Developing awareness and processes to identify, capture and manage IP, together with ensuring terms and contracts for staff and third parties reflect IP ownership.
- Developing and delivering commercialisation strategies with respect to business model and market introduction, or the licensing out of IP.
Establishing the structures and data frameworks to enable the effective measurement, analysis and management of every aspect of the business to help drive improvements, shape strategy and guide operational effectiveness.
- Innovation goal setting.
- Innovation project performance.
- Innovation impact for the company.
- Market and societal impact.
- Performance management.
Helping identify the best sources of support, to achieve your growth ambitions and objectives for the business. Covering:
- Engaging with publicly funded and commercial / private sector business support.
- Business support ecosystem awareness in general.
- Involvement in business accelerator programmes.
- Engaging with the local business and innovation community.
- Awareness of national programmes.
- Awareness of local programmes.
- Engagement with support providers to achieve better results.
Understanding the financial needs of the business to support growth and scaling ambitions.
- Business financial health & management: reserves and cash situation.
- Financing research, innovation and growth.
- Public grant funding programmes.
- Debt finance.
- Private/equity investment: investment readiness.
- HMRC schemes (Including R&D Tax Credits and EIS).