6 Ways to Leverage Global Innovation to Grow Your Business

It's imperative to put ongoing innovation first if companies want to keep up in a globalized economy.

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By Ed Sappin


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The World has been Flat for more than a decade, and our worldwide market continues bringing people and countries closer and closer. Competition and opportunity increase as technology travels across the globe in milliseconds. Collectively tuned into streams of newsfeeds, with an on-demand global database of knowledge at our fingertips, we are of a century awash in innovation. Businesses and people, are for the most part, better for it.

So what does this mean for your company? Are you going to be left in the dust, leverage the global opportunity to drive your company to even greater heights, or muddle through without taking advantage of the resources available to you?

Leveraging global innovation is by no means a cakewalk, but as competition heightens, it is more necessary than ever. Here are six ways ways you can leverage global innovation to scale and strengthen your business.

1. Differentiate.

Accounting for globalization means acknowledging a world's worth of competition, and against this backdrop, differentiation is key in growing your business. While you are normally asking yourself where you stand in the industry and how your business is different from competitors, the market is bigger now. Embracing new innovations could help propel you forward.

Related: How Do You Bring Innovation to Market?

If you haven't recently, solidify your value proposition so that you can articulate exactly what it is you have to offer. Then, you can communicate this clearly and concisely so your audience understands it, too. Global innovation means that you also should be looking at international markets and understanding emerging business models that may be leapfrogging the status quo in your market. Ask yourself: can you adapt these models to compete better in your current market? Or will your model port well to another country to quickly expand your scale?

Whatever the case, understanding trends outside of your home market is no longer an option but a requirement.

2. Update for the mobile and Web age.

The way in which we experience things online and on our phones matters more than you'd think when it comes to scaling a company. You may believe that your product or service will speak for itself, but that is no longer true. The loudest and most influential way our products speak is from the Internet, where millions of people can be reached in an instant. These days most people access content right from their cell phones.

This can mean numerous things for you. Investing in a responsive, modern and engaging website is an obvious first step -- and if it can include an intuitive, live customer support function, even better. A savvy digital marketing team can also help in targeting users by platform, location and demographic, generating leads across virtual and physical locations.

3. Innovating as a strategic advantage.

Innovation for innovation's sake is not important, but creating sustainable competitive advantages is. Seventy-five percent of private company executives agree that innovation is a critical means of staying in the game, and prioritize innovation as the key path to sustained growth.

Related: Great Achievements: A Game-Changing Invention and a Satellite for Global Access

Investing in innovation can be costly, though, and many CEOs claim that it does not necessarily pay off. That's not to say that they would be better off not evolving, just that it needs to be done carefully. Are smaller, low-risk innovations for you, or high-risk high reward ones? In the long term, many companies find that the latter is more fruitful.

4. Earn credibility.

Today's consumers are more informed than ever. This means that your company can't fall back on old knowledge and practices to gain trust -- you have to prove yourself, quickly, frequently and convincingly.

Trust can be conveyed in numerous ways. The first would be to go above and beyond to inform your consumer without overdoing it. Simple things like a clean website with clear call-to-action and sophisticated branding can help get the message across in no time.

Training your team thoroughly, so that they can communicate clearly and kindly, is also a major element in building credibility. If you can establish this trust consistently across both your physical and digital assets, your authority should translate directly to customers and fans that believe in your enterprise.

5. Give back.

As I've written about previously, sustainability and profitability go hand in hand when your goals for impact and growth are aligned. Promoting a higher goal -- and even better, a globally relevant one -- will garner attention for your business and encourage others to get on board.

This trend is increasing as most millennials would prefer to align themselves with a brand attached to a cause to one that's not. Marrying your business goals with a double or triple bottom line is not just better for the world, but can give you a competitive edge.

Related: The Government Might Fund Your Idea Before Anybody Else Will

An innovative approach can be helpful in this regard. The whole notion of charity and impact have been utterly transformed by new, digitalized methods of giving and made more efficient by smart business models that tie the two together.

6. Don't forget to invest in people.

Lastly, the only thing more important than innovation itself is the people that drive them. In a global economy, hiring diverse and talented individuals will bring a fresh mindset that helps your business stand up to the competition.

There are also ways to invest in the team you already have. Providing competitive benefits, strong pay, and other incentives is one way to attract and retain top talent. Encouraging employees to act as intrapreneurs is another that can help draw out innovation within your organization.

All in all, I believe it's imperative that companies put ongoing innovation front and center if they want to grow and keep up in a globalized economy. With competition at its fiercest ever, you can assess and progress your business from the inside-out to drive growth. Global innovation is a challenge and an opportunity, but you'll need to assemble all the right parts to move your company to succeed in this new, new world.

Ed Sappin

CEO of Sappin Global Strategies

Ed Sappin is the CEO of Sappin Global Strategies, a strategy and investment firm dedicated to the innovation economy.

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