18 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

Clifford Chi

Published: July 01, 2024

I believe that reading sample business plans is essential when writing your own.

sample business plans and examples

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As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, it’s easier for you to learn how to write a good one.

So what does a good business plan look like? And how do you write one that’s both viable and convincing? I’ll walk you through the ideal business plan format along with some examples to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Business Plan Types

Business plan format, sample business plan: section by section, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ultimately, the format of your business plan will vary based on your goals for that plan. I’ve added this quick review of different business plan types that achieve differing goals.

For a more detailed exploration of business plan types, you can check out this post .

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1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas. If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

Feasibility business plans focus on that business's product or service. Feasibility plans are sometimes added to startup business plans. They can also be a new business plan for an already thriving organization.

3. Internal Use

You can use internal business plans to share goals, strategies, or performance updates with stakeholders. In my opinion, internal business plans are useful for alignment and building support for ambitious goals.

4. Strategic Initiatives

A strategic business plan is another business plan that's often shared internally. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

When a business is moving forward with an acquisition or repositioning, it may need extra structure and support. These types of business plans expand on a company's acquisition or repositioning strategy.

Growth sometimes just happens as a business continues operations. But more often, a business needs to create a structure with specific targets to meet set goals for expansion. This business plan type can help a business focus on short-term growth goals and align resources with those goals.

I’m going to focus on a startup business plan that needs to be detailed and research-backed as well as compelling enough to convince investors to offer funding. In my experience, the most comprehensive and convincing business plans contain the following sections.

Executive Summary

This all-important introduction to your business plan sets the tone and includes the company description as well as what you will be exchanging for money — whether that’s product lines, services, or product-service hybrids.

Market Opportunity

Information about gaps in your industry’s market and how you plan to fill them, focused on demand and potential for growth.

Competitive Landscape Analysis

An overview of your competitors that includes consideration of their strengths and how you’ll manage them, their weaknesses and how you’ll capitalize on them, and how you can differentiate your offerings in the industry.

Target Audience

Descriptions of your ideal customers, their various problems that you can solve, and your customer acquisition strategy.

Marketing Strategy

This section details how you will market your brand to achieve specific goals, the channels and tactics you’ll utilize to reach those goals, and the metrics you’ll be using to measure your progress.

Key Features and Benefits

This is where you’ll use plain language to emphasize the value of your product/service, how it solves the problems of your target audiences, and how you’ll scale up over time.

Pricing and Revenue

This section describes your pricing strategy and plans for building revenue streams that fit your audiences while achieving your business goals.

This is the final section, communicating with investors that your business idea is worth investing in via profit/loss statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets to prove viability.

Okay, so now that we have a format established, I’ll give you more specific details about each section along with examples. Truthfully, I wish I’d had this resource to help me flesh out those first business plans long ago.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. It is essentially an overview of and introduction to your entire project.

Write this in such a way that it grabs your readers' attention and guides them through the rest of the business plan. This is important because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary: your company description and your products and services.

Company Description

This is the perfect space to highlight your company’s mission statement and goals, a brief overview of your history and leadership, and your top accomplishments as a business.

Tell potential investors who you are and why what you do matters. Naturally, they’re going to want to know who they’re getting into business with up front. This is a great opportunity to showcase your impact.

Need some extra help firming up your business goals? I’d recommend HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set meaningful goals that matter most for your business.

Products and Services

Here, you will incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive, as it is just a chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business. I recommend including snippets of information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here as well.

Keep in mind that you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. The executive summary should be clear and brief, only including the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template . What makes this executive summary good is that it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Our Mission

Maria’s Gluten Free Bagels offers gluten-free bagels, along with various toppings, other gluten-free breakfast sandwich items, and coffee. The facility is entirely gluten free. Our team expects to catch the interest of gluten-free, celiac, or health-conscious community members who are seeking an enjoyable cafe to socialize. Due to a lack of gluten-free bagel products in the food industry currently, we expect mild competition and are confident we will be able to build a strong market position.

The Company and Management

Maria’s Gluten Free Bagels was founded in 2010 by Maria Jones, who first began selling her gluten-free bagels online from her home, using social media to spread the word. In 2012 she bought a retail location in Hamilton, MA, which now employs four full-time employees and six part-time employees. Prior to her bagel shop, Maria was a chef in New York and has extensive experience in the food industry.

Along with Maria Jones, Gluten Free Bagel Shop has a board of advisors. The advisors are:

  • Jeni King, partner at Winding Communications, Ltd.
  • Henry Wilson, president of Blue Robin, LLP.

Our Product

We offer gluten-free products ranging from bagels and cream cheese to blueberry muffins, coffee, and pastries. Our customers are health-conscious, community-oriented people who enjoy gluten-free products. We will create a welcoming, warm environment with opportunities for open mic nights, poetry readings, and other community functions. We will focus on creating an environment in which someone feels comfortable meeting a friend for lunch, or working remotely.

Our Competitive Advantages

While there are other coffee shops and cafes in the North Shore region, there are none that offer purely gluten-free options. This restricts those suffering from gluten-free illnesses or simply those with a gluten-free preference. This will be our primary selling point. Additionally, our market research [see Section 3] has shown a demand for a community-oriented coffee and bagel shop in the town of Hamilton, MA.

Financial Considerations

Our sales projections for the first year are $400,000. We project a 15% growth rate over the next two years. By year three, we project 61% gross margins.

We will have four full-time employees. The salary for each employee will be $50,000.

Start-up Financing Requirements

We are seeking to raise $125,000 in startup to finance year one. The owner has invested $50,000 to meet working capital requirements, and will use a loan of $100,000 to supplement the rest.

Example 2 :

Marianne and Keith Bean have been involved with the food industry for several years. They opened their first restaurant in Antlers, Oklahoma in 1981, and their second in Hugo in 1988. Although praised for the quality of many of the items on their menu, they have attained a special notoriety for their desserts. After years of requests for their flavored whipped cream toppings, they have decided to pursue marketing these products separately from the restaurants.

Marianne and Keith Bean have developed several recipes for flavored whipped cream topping. They include chocolate, raspberry, cinnamon almond, and strawberry. These flavored dessert toppings have been used in the setting of their two restaurants over the past 18 years, and have been produced in large quantities. The estimated shelf life of the product is 21 days at refrigeration temperatures and up to six months when frozen. The Beans intend to market this product in its frozen state in 8 and 12-ounce plastic tubs. They also intend to have the products available in six ounce pressurized cans. Special attention has been given to developing an attractive label that will stress the gourmet/specialty nature of the products.

Distribution of Fancy's Foods Whipped Dream product will begin in the local southeastern Oklahoma area. The Beans have an established name and reputation in this area, and product introduction should encounter little resistance.

Financial analyses show that the company will have both a positive cash flow and profit in the first year. The expected return on equity in the first year is 10.88%

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Start with a strong introduction of your company that showcases your mission and impact, then outline the products and services you provide.
  • Clearly define a problem, explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, you might emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists, whereas you might emphasize community benefits and minimal environmental impact for progressive nonprofits.

For more guidance, check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary .

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market. Ask and answer: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, SOM analysis , a SWOT analysis , and perform market research on your industry to get some insights for this section. More specifically, here’s what I’d include.

  • The size of the market
  • Current or potential market share
  • Trends in the industry and consumer behavior
  • Where the gap is
  • What caused the gap
  • How you intend to fill it

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

I like this example because it uses critical data to underline the size of the potential market and what part of that market this service hopes to capture.

Example: The market for Doggie Pause is all of the dog owners in the metropolitan area and surrounding areas of the city. We believe that this is going to be 2/3 of the population, and we have a goal of gaining a 50% market share. We have a target of a 20% yearly profit increase as the business continues.

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

  • Focus on demand and potential for growth.
  • Use market research, surveys, and industry trend data to support your market forecast and projections.
  • Add a review of regulation shifts, tech advances, and consumer behavior changes.
  • Refer to reliable sources.
  • Showcase how your business can make the most of this opportunity.

3. Competitive Landscape Analysis

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you‘ll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are. After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you’ll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

My favorite part of performing a competitive analysis is that it can help you uncover the following:

  • Industry trends that other brands may not be utilizing.
  • Strengths in your competition that may be obstacles to handle.
  • Weaknesses in your competition that may help you develop selling points.
  • The unique proposition you bring to the market that may resonate with customers.

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are. It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location. This demonstrates useful experience in the industry, helping to build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Competitive Environment

Currently, there are four primary competitors in the Greater Omaha Area: Pinot’s Palette Lakeside (franchise partner), Village Canvas and Cabernet, The Corky Canvas, and Twisted Vine Collective. The first three competitors are in Omaha and the fourth is located in Papillion.

Despite the competition, all locations have both public and private events. Each location has a few sold-out painting events each month. The Omaha locations are in new, popular retail locations, while the existing Papillion location is in a downtown business district.

There is an opportunity to take advantage of the environment and open a studio in a well-traveled or growing area. Pinot’s Palette La Vista will differentiate itself from its competitors by offering a premium experience in a high-growth, influential location.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

  • Complete in-depth research, then emphasize your most important findings.
  • Compare your unique selling proposition (USP) to your direct and indirect competitors.
  • Show a clear and realistic plan for product and brand differentiation.
  • Look for specific advantages and barriers in the competitive landscape. Then, highlight how that information could impact your business.
  • Outline growth opportunities from a competitive perspective.
  • Add customer feedback and insights to support your competitive analysis.

4. Target Audience

Use this section to describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience? I’d recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear about why you're targeting them. Here are some questions I’d ask myself:

  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

Target Audience Business Plan Example

I like the example below because it uses in-depth research to draw conclusions about audience priorities. It also analyzes how to create the right content for this audience.

The Audience

Recognize that audiences are often already aware of important issues. Outreach materials should:

  • Emphasize a pollution-prevention practice
  • Tell audience a little about how to prevent pollution
  • Tell audience where they can obtain information about prevention.

Message Content

  • Focus the content for outreach materials on cost savings, such as when and where pollution prevention is as cheap as or cheaper than traditional techniques. Include facts and figures.
  • Emphasize how easy it is to do the right thing and the impacts of not engaging in pollution prevention.
  • Stress benefits such as efficiency or better relations with government, for businesses not primarily concerned with public image.

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

  • Include details on the size and growth potential of your target audience.
  • Figure out and refine the pain points for your target audience , then show why your product is a useful solution.
  • Describe your targeted customer acquisition strategy in detail.
  • Share anticipated challenges your business may face in acquiring customers and how you plan to address them.
  • Add case studies, testimonials, and other data to support your target audience ideas.
  • Remember to consider niche audiences and segments of your target audience in your business plan.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you‘ll discuss how you’ll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier. I’d suggest including these details:

  • Your brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it.
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve.
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success.
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler. In my opinion, it works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Screenshot of sample marketing plan

You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

This business plan guide focuses less on the individual parts of a business plan, and more on the overarching goal of writing one. For that reason, it’s one of my favorites to supplement any template you choose to use. Harvard Business Review’s guide is instrumental for both new and seasoned business owners.

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

Screenshot of business startup kit download page from hubspot

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The 7 Best Business Plan Examples (2024)

As an aspiring entrepreneur gearing up to start your own business , you likely know the importance of drafting a business plan. However, you might not be entirely sure where to begin or what specific details to include. That’s where examining business plan examples can be beneficial. Sample business plans serve as real-world templates to help you craft your own plan with confidence. They also provide insight into the key sections that make up a business plan, as well as demonstrate how to structure and present your ideas effectively.

Example business plan

To understand how to write a business plan, let’s study an example structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick overview of those parts:

  • Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
  • Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
  • Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
  • Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
  • Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
  • Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
  • Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, this is the place to discuss your request and needs.

7 business plan examples (section by section)

In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together. 

  • Executive summary

Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information. 

In this free business plan template, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:

  • Company description

You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:

  • Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
  • Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market. 
  • Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
  • Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
  • Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.

You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on it’s About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan. 

company description business plan

  • Market analysis

Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis for a hypothetical ecommerce business: 

marketing swot example

You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component of your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition. 

  • Products and services

This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here—a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.

  • Marketing plan

Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. So it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt. 

Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing. 

Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:

marketing section template for business plan

Logistics and operations

This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.

Financial plan

The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state.

In this business plan example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.

financial plan example

It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:

  • Funding needs
  • Project cash-flow statement
  • Project profit-and-loss statement
  • Projected balance sheet

You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet. 

Types of business plans (and what to write for each)

A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of these sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized:

  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financials 

A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea—market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points:

  • Market research: in depth
  • Financials: in depth

Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal. Be sure to include:

  • Market research


A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan. Include the following sections:

A strategic (or growth) business plan lays out your long-term vision and goals. This means your predictions stretch further into the future, and you aim for greater growth and revenue. While crafting this document, you use all the parts of a usual business plan but add more to each one:

  • Products and services: for launch and expansion
  • Market analysis: detailed analysis
  • Marketing plan: detailed strategy
  • Logistics and operations plan: detailed plan
  • Financials: detailed projections

Free business plan templates

Now that you’re familiar with what’s included and how to format a business plan, let’s go over a few templates you can fill out or draw inspiration from.

Bplans’ free business plan template

business plan about innovative

Bplans’ free business plan template focuses a lot on the financial side of running a business. It has many pages just for your financial plan and statements. Once you fill it out, you’ll see exactly where your business stands financially and what you need to do to keep it on track or make it better.

PandaDoc’s free business plan template

business plan about innovative

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is detailed and guides you through every section, so you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Filling it out, you’ll grasp the ins and outs of your business and how each part fits together. It’s also handy because it connects to PandaDoc’s e-signature for easy signing, ideal for businesses with partners or a board.

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template


Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template helps you map out the essentials of your business, like partnerships, core activities, and what makes you different. It’s a collaborative tool for you and your team to learn how everything in your business is linked.

Better business planning equals better business outcomes

Building a business plan is key to establishing a clear direction and strategy for your venture. With a solid plan in hand, you’ll know what steps to take for achieving each of your business goals. Kickstart your business planning and set yourself up for success with a defined roadmap—utilizing the sample business plans above to inform your approach.

Business plan FAQ

What are the 3 main points of a business plan.

  • Concept. Explain what your business does and the main idea behind it. This is where you tell people what you plan to achieve with your business.
  • Contents. Explain what you’re selling or offering. Point out who you’re selling to and who else is selling something similar. This part concerns your products or services, who will buy them, and who you’re up against.
  • Cash flow. Explain how money will move in and out of your business. Discuss the money you need to start and keep the business going, the costs of running your business, and how much money you expect to make.

How do I write a simple business plan?

To create a simple business plan, start with an executive summary that details your business vision and objectives. Follow this with a concise description of your company’s structure, your market analysis, and information about your products or services. Conclude your plan with financial projections that outline your expected revenue, expenses, and profitability.

What is the best format to write a business plan?

The optimal format for a business plan arranges your plan in a clear and structured way, helping potential investors get a quick grasp of what your business is about and what you aim to achieve. Always start with a summary of your plan and finish with the financial details or any extra information at the end.

Want to learn more?

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Innovation Blog

Business innovation strategy: 9 key pillars for success in 2021.

  • Published on: January 6, 2021
  • Author: masschallenge


More than 80% of leaders at large corporations believe innovation is crucial for business growth. And yet, many companies have no innovation strategy.

Technology and digital disruption continue to advance at breakneck speed, leading all industries into a future where business agility counts just as much as having an experienced C-suite.

It doesn’t matter what industry you operate in now—the choice is the same for all companies:

Innovate or get left behind.

Without a solid plan that maps out how you will achieve your goals and establish a sustainable business built to adapt to a rapidly-changing digital landscape, you’re bound to struggle.

In this article, we’ll find out what an innovation strategy is, why it matters, and then we’ll give you the ideas and inspiration to start innovating at your company.

What is an Innovation Strategy?

An innovation strategy is a clearly-defined plan of structured steps a person or team must perform to achieve the growth and future sustainability goals of an organization.

Innovation  aims to create original value, such as new solutions to adapt in changing industries or solve impeding social, health, or economic challenges. A strategy is a plan that details precisely how you will bring your vision into reality.

Essentially, a strategy acts as a heuristic that we can rely on when facing tough decisions. Ergo, an innovation strategy provides people with a framework for critical decision-making relative to company innovation, such as:

  • In what areas will we invest?
  • How much will we invest?
  • Who will make investment decisions?
  • What capabilities will we need to develop to support our investments?
  • What capabilities can we not build, which we must then acquire or form a partnership to provide?

All of these questions are long-term decisions. When devising an innovation strategy , we must consider our goals and the potential for change over several years.

Why Are Innovation Strategies Important?

Typically, the most effective business models, markets, and products follow a similar growth cycle, often visualized as an S-curve , where diminishing returns set in sometime after the initial growth trajectory.


This slowdown in growth is inevitable, and yet, many companies are taken off-guard. We can’t simply ignore these decisions. If you decide to wait until there is a lull in growth or sales until you gather more information, it may be too late.

In 2008, Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes said, “Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition.”

This bold claim came even though Blockbuster had lost 75% of its market value between 2003 and 2005.


By 2010, the DVD rental store declared bankruptcy, succumbing to the indomitable rise of Netflix and the streaming television era.

Kodak fell to a similar demise. As smartphones became ubiquitous, Kodak could no longer compete, and in 2012, the company once synonymous with photography filed for bankruptcy and vanished from the camera industry.

These are, of course, highly visible and consumerist examples, but the same dilemmas befall more naunced areas is every industry, whether it be in healthtech, security, sustainability, or infrastructure.

Nothing grows forever, and you can never really know when the inflection point will hit, which is why it is best to always be ready. In other words, you should make innovation a continuous process. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before revenue starts tumbling.

Benefits of an Innovation Strategy

Holding on to traditional practices just because “that’s what we’ve always done” is not a strategy for success. That rigid approach is guaranteed to fail in the face of disruption, as proven by Kodak and Blockbuster.

With that in mind, here are four benefits of an innovation strategy:

Improve existing products

When selling any product or service, you must consider the three levers of the value proposition:

  • Benefits and features
  • Target customers

A good innovation strategy will experiment with these levers, helping sales and marketing teams to reinvent or revert the value proposition of existing products. In doing so, innovation helps to bring more value to the customer, and ultimately, more revenue for the business.

Develop new products

For many, the most appealing benefit of a business innovation strategy is its capacity to generate entirely new ideas. Innovation can birth new products and services to add to your existing lines, or it may open the doors to target new markets, or solve growing societal problems.

By analyzing the customer journey of different consumer types, you can develop a better understanding of purchasing behaviors. This research helps companies identify the key factors that motivate people to make purchases and discover new opportunities by finding markets or products that need improvement.

Optimize revenues

The three variables of profit are price, demand, and costs. For any business strategy to be deemed successful, it must increase profit by reducing costs or raising prices or demand.

Earnings innovation encourages businesses to seek out ways of maximizing their profit. Quite often, the most effective way to do this is by expanding your customer base.

Whether you’re creating a new product or improving your existing ones, the impact on your earnings should be a top priority of your business innovation strategy.

Optimize costs

Increasing revenue is not the only way to drive profits, as you can also use innovation to reduce costs. When you apply new practices and process throughout the organization, you can optimize internal operations in many ways, such as:

  • Switching from legacy offline systems to cloud storage
  • Moving to paperless systems for all records and communication
  • Using live chatbots instead of human customer support staff

Through constant innovation, it’s possible to streamline workflows and teams so that you spend less on administration and more on activities that generate a higher return on investment (ROI).

9 Key Pillars of a Business Innovation Strategy

Creating an innovation strategy is a vital step that gives your team the understanding and directional insight into how individual, departmental, and organizational goals come together to deliver the business objectives.

Here are 9 pillars of an innovation strategy that enable a company to maximize its potential:

You can execute an innovation strategy using one of two models—business model innovation or leveraging existing business model.

  • Business model innovation is the process an organization uses to adapt its business model to deliver more value to its customers. By making changes to its value proposition and the underlying business model, a company can gain a competitive advantage.
  • Leveraging Existing Business Model focuses on continuous improvement of core business, rather than seeking to build new business models.

Once you have decided on your preferred model, you can experiment with the concepts below:

2. Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship is the practice of enabling employees to act as entrepreneurs while they work within a company.

By empowering individuals to think, act, and create their own ideas, a company benefits from a widespread internal culture of ongoing innovation. An organization can provide resources and support to intrapreneurs, helping them launch startups within the organization.

3. Corporate accelerator

A corporate accelerator is an innovation event or program funded by a large enterprise, which typically offers aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to acquire seed capital, mentorship, and important connections.

These programs usually culminate with a demonstration day, where startups pitch their ideas to the host corporation for the chance to secure investment or a partnership.

By including a corporate accelerator in your innovation strategy, you get the chance to build your network with promising new talent in your industry. Moreover, there is an excellent chance you will discover startups and concepts that align with your own business needs and goals.

4. Innovation labs

An innovation lab is a business department that provides a base and supporting resources for startups or R&D teams to work on new ideas that could disrupt the current market.

While these labs may operate independently from the parent company, it’s also possible to house an innovation lab within the main company building and staff it with existing employees.

5. Open innovation program

The traditional model of research and development relies on internal resources and expertise. Existing employees work together to generate, manage, and sustain new business ideas and retain all information within the company, usually within the R&D department.

Open innovation takes a novel approach by opening the company’s doors to external input, welcoming experts, researchers, and bright minds from outside the company to come and share their ideas.

6. External accelerators

An external accelerator is a little different from an in-house corporate accelerator, as your company will not cover the full costs of running the program. As such, this is a low-risk tactic in an innovation strategy, with the potential to deliver fantastic rewards. Like a corporare accelerator, purview to new startups and concepts that align with business needs and goals are exhibithed, but additionally there’s the benefit of opening your eyes to advantageous approaches that were not intially apart of your goals.

By becoming involved, you can actively participate in advancing startups and focusing on particular solutions that appeal to your business, making this type of accelerator a worthwhile venture.

7. Collaboration

The ideas are just the beginning, but it’s only through interaction and discussion with subject matter experts, researchers, and other innovators that you can successfully bring ideas to life.

Having more conversations around an idea with various outside sources makes it easier to identify potential issues and iterate a basic idea until it is something genuinely worth producing.

You should seek praise and criticism at this stage, as it’s important to challenge the concept and debate the pros and cons in-depth.

8. Ideation

Approximately 4 of every 5 employees has an idea to improve the company. Finding ideas is not a challenge—gathering, analyzing, and implementing the best ideas is the struggle for many companies.

Many companies fail because they lack an effective system to take a simple idea and turn it into a practical process that will deliver results. In other words, they don’t have an innovation strategy.

It’s important to explain your ideation processes to all employees to be aware of how the company captures ideas. When you have this system in place and encourage people to contribute, it’s easier to collect and organize new ideas.

9. Measurement

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. And so, one of the most important pillars of your innovation strategy is a plan for how you will measure success.

Think about your goals and the most relevant metrics to track. For example, if your goal is brand awareness, you could track social shares, website traffic, and email subscribers.

With every new idea, monitor its progress, and gauge performance by taking periodic measurements of your key metrics. It’s not always easy to measure innovation, but doing so from the start allows you to determine whether your efforts are successful.

Innovation Strategy Examples

We can see innovation strategy examples in every industry, as companies strive to get an edge in increasingly competitive marketplaces.

As the rise of café culture birthed hipster pop-ups and independent shops, the dominant chains began to lose ground. Keen to avoid a Kodak moment, Howard Schultz jumped to action . The Starbucks CEO invited store managers from all over the world to come together for a conference to redesign the café experience.

As a leader in technology and sustainability, Bühler invests up to 5% of its turnover every year in research and development. To optimize these efforts, in 2016 Bühler identified five core topics that are decisive for driving change:

  • Food and Feed Safety: spend 50% of food relevant R&D projects with focus to improve food and feed safety
  • Energy, Waste and Water Reduction: reduction by 50% in the value chains of their customers by 2030
  • Mobility: make lighter cars with die-casting solutions and create more efficient batteries for electric vehicles
  • Nutrition: spend 20% of food relevant R&D projects with focus to improve nutrition
  • Digitalization: improve transparency through digitalization and collaboration

By working with an external accelerator, in the case MassChallenge, Bühler received early access to emerging, high-impact technologies and startups across their five core initiatives.

In 2018, Bühler teamed up with Givaudan to support Legria , a new natural sweetener made from waste streams, supporting their waste reduction initiative. The new business model was made more public-appealing by having two companies in support of it, however maintaining economic independence of each other.

The dating app, Tinder , was the first of its kind to gamify dating. The development team approached potential users at college sororities, recruiting signups from a largely female audience before pitching the app to men in the same colleges’ fraternities.

With a personal touch, the company’s clever innovation strategy quickly grew the app’s user base, as many college students joined because they knew other people on the app.

Sometimes, people can be concerned about offending with their reviews online, and therefore, they may not be totally honest.

Airbnb set 14-day deadlines and implemented a double-blind review process, so neither party can view the other’s review until both have been completed. This change paved the way for more spontaneous reviews and more candid, detailed feedback.

Airbnb turned reviews into a bonafide trust factor on their site with this simple move, which people use to make booking decisions. In the long-term, the strategy has helped grow the authority of the website and company.

The growth of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry tempted many customers away from traditional hardware technology companies. In the cloud age, IBM knew change was needed and decided to take a startup-like approach to innovation.

In 2014, IBM launched a growth hacking team to explore new ideas and tap into new markets through data-driven creativity. Now, the legacy tech corporation operates with a collection of lean, startup-sized teams within its workforce, encouraging team members to work in an innovation lab style to test new marketing strategies.

Our vision for a better company, product, or value for the customer may feel clear, but how we get there isn’t always so simple. Faced with market trends, changes in consumer preferences, new technology, and disruptive competitors, companies will need a blueprint to stay on track.

An innovation strategy goes beyond simple tactics like campaign ideas and marketing ploys to develop the company’s mission, vision, and unique value proposition against this ever-evolving landscape.

Nowadays, it’s no longer an option.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”  – Sun Tzu

MassChallenge gives partners the tools to meet this moment head on while realizing results that make the difference for their businesses. See how companies like MassMutual , Barry Callebaut , Columbia Threadneedle , and Elta Systems  have partnered with MassChallenge to drive their innovation.

Join the MassChallenge program today to give your corporation the edge in the startup era.


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5 Effective Steps to Creating a Powerful Innovation Strategy

Updated on: 1 March 2023

Innovation is an organization’s path to survival. In a world of rapid change and increasing competition, innovation has become essential to maintaining business growth, competitiveness, and productivity.  

Innovation is one of the key activities in a company’s operations. Innovation is a long and complex process that takes an abstract idea and converts it into a successful product or service. A proper strategy in place to execute it ensures that you do it well. 

In this post, we are exploring 5 effective steps for developing a powerful innovation strategy.

What is an Innovation Strategy

“Innovation transforms insight and technology into novel products, processes and services that create new value for stakeholders, drive economic growth and improve standards of living.”

In the simplest of terms, innovation is the process of bringing new, unique, and creative ideas into reality. An organization following an innovation strategy uses innovation to execute its business strategy. In other words, an innovation strategy guides the process of resource allocation, enabling the organization to achieve its long-term goals through the use of innovation.  

“An innovation strategy guides decisions on how resources are to be used to meet a firm’s objectives for innovation and thereby deliver value and build competitive advantage.” – Mark Dodgson, David Gann, Ammon Salter (The Management of Technological Innovation: Strategy and Practice)

A company’s innovation strategy should specify how the different types of innovation fit into the business strategy and the resources that should be allocated to implement these innovations.

An innovation strategy paves the way to 

  • Improve the ability to retain customers 
  • Reduce competitive intensity
  • Improve product or service performance  
  • Increase the chances of becoming a market leader 
  • Preserve bargaining power in an ecosystem and blunt imitators

Types of innovation

  • Gradual/ incremental innovation (continuous innovation) is based on abilities that can be easily learned and developed in an organization and has a low-risk low return. 
  • Radical innovation (discontinuous innovation) on the other hand may change the structure of an industry dramatically and has a high-risk high return. 

Innovation Matrix

The innovation matrix as introduced by VIIMA helps categorize innovation based on two dimensions; the technology it uses and the market it operates in. It, thus, visualizes the most common types of innovation.

Innovation Matrix for Innovation Strategy

Based on these categories, three major types of innovation an innovation strategy can be based on can be identified, 

  • Product innovation; occurs in the development of new products, modifications in established products, or in the usage of new materials or components in the manufacture of established products
  • Process innovation; refers to the development of and implementation of significantly improved organizational processes through the integration of new technologies
  • Business model innovation; refers to the improvements done to an existing business model or the creation of a new one to better meet the needs of customers

The Innovation Value Chain 

The innovation value chain provides a framework to identify which innovation approach makes the most sense for a company to adopt. It enables managers to find the company’s weaknesses and become more aware of an apt approach to implement for success. 

The framework includes three phases 

  • Idea generation ; creating and sourcing new ideas from internal and external environments to achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • Conversion ; selecting and screening the best idea and implementing them. While this involves transforming knowledge into innovations in the form of new products, processes, or organizational forms, special focus should be placed on the company budget and strict funding criteria to avoid shutting down the development of the idea. 
  • Diffusion ; spreading the idea across the organization. Find the relevant communities in the organization to support and spread the new product or service, process, and practices across geographic location, consumer groups, and channels. 

Innovation Value Chain

How to Develop an Innovation Strategy 

Determine the innovation strategy objective .

Developing an innovation strategy should start with understanding the reason behind developing one in the first place or the objectives you want to achieve by implementing it. 

To identify your innovation strategy objectives, examine the overall business objectives that help the company achieve sustainable competitive advantage. This will clear the path for your innovation strategy as it should eventually support the overarching goals of the organization.

Get the executive team onboard 

Engage the leadership team in dialogue and ensure that they are aware of the innovation objectives established and what it means for them as well as the future of the organization. During the discussions also identify, 

  • External changes that could be occurring at present and in the future as a result of innovation 
  • The implication of such changes on the company 
  • Scope of innovation; identifying opportunities for innovation, whether to improve existing products or services or introduce brand new products to new markets
  • Business outcomes; financial results, social impact, new economic models, market leadership,  etc. 
  • The gaps that must be closed to deliver the chosen innovation scope, especially in terms of processes, skills, and resources needed and company culture
  • Barriers to and enablers of the innovation strategy.  Barriers can come in the form of embedded beliefs on how the business should operate and enablers can show up as core capabilities or resources.  

Their involvement is necessary to create a shared vision of success with innovation at the core.

Gather customer insight 

Understanding customer needs will inform the direction of the development of the innovation idea. It will also enable you to formulate a strategy that works and create value-creating innovations that will ultimately generate a good return on investment.

In order to create value for potential customers with your innovation strategy, you need a thorough understanding of your market and the customer segment you are catering to. 

B2C Buyer Persona

(Utilize a customer persona to gather insight on customers’ demographic characteristics, needs, challenges, and ambitions and apply that knowledge to generate a solution.)

Allocate resources 

When allocating resources for new areas for growth and renewal, reserving resources for the core business growth should also be taken into consideration. By conducting a comprehensive audit on the current innovation landscape of the organization you can determine and understand how much time, effort, and money are allocated to different innovation initiatives. 

The Harvard Business Review has introduced the Innovation Ambition Matrix to determine how to allocate resources based on the type of innovation initiative.

The matrix describes 3 types of innovation and how resources should be split among them,  

  • Core initiatives – refer to efforts to make incremental changes to existing products and incremental inroads into new markets. For example, through new packaging or added service convenience. Such efforts can draw on resources the company already has. 
  • Transformational initiatives – refer to creating new offers to serve new markets and customer needs. This may require assets the company is unfamiliar with. 
  • Adjacent innovations – involves leveraging something the company does well into a new space. This type of innovation allows a company to draw on existing capabilities but necessitates putting those capabilities to new uses.

Research conducted by HBR shows that companies that allocated about 70% of resources to core initiatives, 20% to adjacent ones, and 10% to transformational ones outperformed their peers.

However, the right balance will vary from company to company and according to factors such as industry, competitive position, and the company’s stage of development.

To learn more about striking and maintaining the right balance between the allocation of resources and the innovation initiative, refer to this article here.

Develop an innovation system 

Not all organizations are likely to possess the capabilities to execute successfully at all three levels of innovation ambitions identified above.

However, HBR emphasizes that the companies that have got it right, have usually focused on five key areas of management that help them excel at the three levels of innovation ambition, and hence enable them to maintain a sustainable innovation system with the organization. 

  • Talent : includes the skills needed to execute core, adjacent, and transformational innovation initiatives. 
  • Integration : refers to organizing and managing the skills in the right way, with the right mandate, and under the conditions that will help them succeed.
  • Funding: refers to determining how to fund the innovation initiatives. Core and adjacent innovations can be funded by the relevant business unit’s P&L through annual budget cycles. Transformational innovations, on the other hand, require a sustained investment that comes from an entity (i.e. executive suite and the CEO).  
  • Pipeline management : mechanisms to track and monitor ongoing initiatives and ensure that they are progressing according to plan.
  • Metrics : what measurements should inform management. While traditional financial metrics are appropriate for measuring core and adjacent initiatives, a combination of noneconomic and internal metrics should be used to evaluate transformational efforts.

Developing an Innovation Strategy 

The innovation strategy of a competitor or an industry leader may not work for you. While you can learn from their best practices, an explicit innovation strategy to match your own competitive needs will be effective in the long run. 

Follow the innovation strategy steps explained above to formulate a robust strategy and better coordinate your innovation process. 

Got anything to add to our guide? Let us know in the comments below.

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Innovation in Business: What It Is & Why It’s Important

Business professionals pursuing innovation in the workplace

  • 08 Mar 2022

Today’s competitive landscape heavily relies on innovation. Business leaders must constantly look for new ways to innovate because you can't solve many problems with old solutions.

Innovation is critical across all industries; however, it's important to avoid using it as a buzzword and instead take time to thoroughly understand the innovation process.

Here's an overview of innovation in business, why it's important, and how you can encourage it in the workplace.

What Is Innovation?

Innovation and creativity are often used synonymously. While similar, they're not the same. Using creativity in business is important because it fosters unique ideas . This novelty is a key component of innovation.

For an idea to be innovative, it must also be useful. Creative ideas don't always lead to innovations because they don't necessarily produce viable solutions to problems.

Simply put: Innovation is a product, service, business model, or strategy that's both novel and useful. Innovations don't have to be major breakthroughs in technology or new business models; they can be as simple as upgrades to a company's customer service or features added to an existing product.

Access your free e-book today.

Types of Innovation

Innovation in business can be grouped into two categories : sustaining and disruptive.

  • Sustaining innovation: Sustaining innovation enhances an organization's processes and technologies to improve its product line for an existing customer base. It's typically pursued by incumbent businesses that want to stay atop their market.
  • Disruptive innovation: Disruptive innovation occurs when smaller companies challenge larger businesses. It can be classified into groups depending on the markets those businesses compete in. Low-end disruption refers to companies entering and claiming a segment at the bottom of an existing market, while new-market disruption denotes companies creating an additional market segment to serve a customer base the existing market doesn't reach.

The most successful companies incorporate both types of innovation into their business strategies. While maintaining an existing position in the market is important, pursuing growth is essential to being competitive. It also helps protect a business against other companies affecting its standing.

Learn about the differences between sustaining and disruptive innovation in the video below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more explainer content!

The Importance of Innovation

Unforeseen challenges are inevitable in business. Innovation can help you stay ahead of the curve and grow your company in the process. Here are three reasons innovation is crucial for your business:

  • It allows adaptability: The recent COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business on a monumental scale. Routine operations were rendered obsolete over the course of a few months. Many businesses still sustain negative results from this world shift because they’ve stuck to the status quo. Innovation is often necessary for companies to adapt and overcome the challenges of change.
  • It fosters growth: Stagnation can be extremely detrimental to your business. Achieving organizational and economic growth through innovation is key to staying afloat in today’s highly competitive world.
  • It separates businesses from their competition: Most industries are populated with multiple competitors offering similar products or services. Innovation can distinguish your business from others.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

Innovation & Design Thinking

Several tools encourage innovation in the workplace. For example, when a problem’s cause is difficult to pinpoint, you can turn to approaches like creative problem-solving . One of the best approaches to innovation is adopting a design thinking mentality.

Design thinking is a solutions-based, human-centric mindset. It's a practical way to strategize and design using insights from observations and research.

Four Phases of Innovation

Innovation's requirements for novelty and usefulness call for navigating between concrete and abstract thinking. Introducing structure to innovation can guide this process.

In the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar teaches design thinking principles using a four-phase innovation framework : clarify, ideate, develop, and implement.

Four phases of design thinking: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement

  • Clarify: The first stage of the process is clarifying a problem. This involves conducting research to empathize with your target audience. The goal is to identify their key pain points and frame the problem in a way that allows you to solve it.
  • Ideate: The ideation stage involves generating ideas to solve the problem identified during research. Ideation challenges assumptions and overcomes biases to produce innovative ideas.
  • Develop: The development stage involves exploring solutions generated during ideation. It emphasizes rapid prototyping to answer questions about a solution's practicality and effectiveness.
  • Implement: The final stage of the process is implementation. This stage involves communicating your developed idea to stakeholders to encourage its adoption.

Human-Centered Design

Innovation requires considering user needs. Design thinking promotes empathy by fostering human-centered design , which addresses explicit pain points and latent needs identified during innovation’s clarification stage.

There are three characteristics of human-centered design:

  • Desirability: For a product or service to succeed, people must want it. Prosperous innovations are attractive to consumers and meet their needs.
  • Feasibility: Innovative ideas won't go anywhere unless you have the resources to pursue them. You must consider whether ideas are possible given technological, economic, or regulatory barriers.
  • Viability: Even if a design is desirable and feasible, it also needs to be sustainable. You must consistently produce or deliver designs over extended periods for them to be viable.

Consider these characteristics when problem-solving, as each is necessary for successful innovation.

The Operational and Innovative Worlds

Creativity and idea generation are vital to innovation, but you may encounter situations in which pursuing an idea isn't feasible. Such scenarios represent a conflict between the innovative and operational worlds.

The Operational World

The operational world reflects an organization's routine processes and procedures. Metrics and results are prioritized, and creativity isn't encouraged to the extent required for innovation. Endeavors that disrupt routine—such as risk-taking—are typically discouraged.

The Innovative World

The innovative world encourages creativity and experimentation. This side of business allows for open-endedly exploring ideas but tends to neglect the functional side.

Both worlds are necessary for innovation, as creativity must be grounded in reality. You should strive to balance them to produce human-centered solutions. Design thinking strikes this balance by guiding you between the concrete and abstract.

Which HBS Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Learning the Ropes of Innovation

Innovation is easier said than done. It often requires you to collaborate with others, overcome resistance from stakeholders, and invest valuable time and resources into generating solutions. It can also be highly discouraging because many ideas generated during ideation may not go anywhere. But the end result can make the difference between your organization's success or failure.

The good news is that innovation can be learned. If you're interested in more effectively innovating, consider taking an online innovation course. Receiving practical guidance can increase your skills and teach you how to approach problem-solving with a human-centered mentality.

Eager to learn more about innovation? Explore Design Thinking and Innovation ,one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses. If you're not sure which course is the right fit, download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

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Develop an innovation strategy

On this page

1. Review your market research

2. understand your opportunities, 3. decide on open or closed innovation, 4. find support and guidance, 5. update your business plan.

When you start to develop your innovation strategy it’s a good idea to review your market research to help you identify:

  • key gaps in the market which are opportunities for you to be innovative
  • how other organisations are being innovative.

You may also like to:

  • ask your customers for feedback to gain insights to improve your processes, products or services
  • ask your employees for ideas based on their experience with customers.

If you haven’t already researched your market as part of business planning, check out our market research information.

Opportunities for innovation occur in 2 ways:

  • internal business opportunities through changes to processes
  • external business opportunities through collaborations and product or service offerings.

Identify innovation opportunities for your business

Consider the ideas below and make notes on how each one could support your business:

  • export or import products or services
  • invent a new product or service
  • streamline your operations to reduce cost
  • seek out tenders and contracts
  • collaborate with others
  • expand your business online
  • social media to extend your customer reach.

Once you understand your opportunities for innovation, you must decide if you will use an open or closed innovation model.

Open innovation means that you:

  • actively seek collaboration with external partners
  • recognise that no business has all the expertise nor owns all the best ideas
  • understand that solutions may already exist in other industries.

Closed innovation allows you to:

  • control all intellectual property and profit within your organisation
  • maintain strong boundaries of a project.

Connect with a business adviser  or find a grant or program  to help drive innovation in your business.

Learn how to write your business plan.

Find out some of the ways you can innovate through collaboration with others., learn more about innovation for your business., was this page helpful, thanks for sharing your feedback with us..

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The eight essentials of innovation

Get the latest.

January 4, 2024

In the time since this article was first published, McKinsey has continued to explore the topics it covers. Read on for a summary of our latest insights.

Innovation may sound like a creative art: hard to quantify, dependent on lightning-bolt inspiration, subject to the availability of magic dust and luck. It’s true that innovation relies, to an extent, on the vagaries of ingenuity. But according to McKinsey research, innovation—and, crucially, the type of outperformance that innovation can spark in organizations—is much more likely to happen when there is a rigorous process  in place to bring ideas to fruition.

The simple fact is that innovation translates to growth : innovation leaders generate almost twice as much revenue growth from innovation as their competitors. Our research in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic has found that these organizations, which we call “innovative growers,” do this by cultivating four best practices :

  • Link innovation to growth aspirations and reinforce its importance in strategic and financial discussions.
  • Pursue multiple pathways to growth, both in core businesses and when entering adjacent customer segments, industries, or geographies. Innovative growers also only enter markets where there are clear opportunities to create value.
  • Invest productively in all innovation capabilities, including research and development, resourcing, and operational agility.
  • Cultivate strong M&A capabilities, particularly programmatic dealmaking.

Innovation can be especially rewarding when deployed as a crisis-management measure . During periods of uncertainty, organizations that invest in innovation—contrary, perhaps, to the impulse to batten down the hatches—are also more likely to emerge ahead of competitors. More specifically, innovative organizations are more likely to find emerging pockets of growth  in times of uncertainty.

Looking ahead, we expect innovative organizations to keep outpacing their peers. Our 2023 McKinsey Global Survey  reveals a striking connection  between organizations’ innovation capabilities and their abilities to increase value through the newest digital technologies, including generative AI. Everyone is talking about gen AI, but organizations with strong innovative cultures are walking the walk, too: thirty percent of top innovators we surveyed said they are already deploying gen AI at scale in their innovation and R&D functions, more than six times the rate of companies that are lagging on innovation. Top innovators are also already reaping significantly better business outcomes from their AI investments than slower-moving competitors.

Articles referenced:

  • “ Companies with innovative cultures have a big edge with generative AI ,” August 2023
  • “ Innovation: Your solution for weathering uncertainty ,” January 2023
  • “ Committed innovators: How masters of essentials outperform ,” June 2022
  • “ Innovation in a crisis: Why it is more critical than ever ,” June 2020

It’s no secret: innovation is difficult for well-established companies. By and large, they are better executors than innovators, and most succeed less through game-changing creativity than by optimizing their existing businesses.

Yet hard as it is for such organizations to innovate, large ones as diverse as Alcoa, the Discovery Group, and NASA’s Ames Research Center are actually doing so. What can other companies learn from their approaches and attributes? That question formed the core of a multiyear study comprising in-depth interviews, workshops, and surveys of more than 2,500 executives in over 300 companies, including both performance leaders and laggards, in a broad set of industries and countries (Exhibit 1). What we found were a set of eight essential attributes that are present, either in part or in full, at every big company that’s a high performer in product, process, or business-model innovation.

Since innovation is a complex, company-wide endeavor , it requires a set of crosscutting practices and processes to structure, organize, and encourage it. Taken together, the essentials described in this article constitute just such an operating system, as seen in Exhibit 2. These often overlapping, iterative, and nonsequential practices resist systematic categorization but can nonetheless be thought of in two groups. The first four, which are strategic and creative in nature, help set and prioritize the terms and conditions under which innovation is more likely to thrive. The next four essentials deal with how to deliver and organize for innovation repeatedly over time and with enough value to contribute meaningfully to overall performance.

To be sure, there’s no proven formula for success, particularly when it comes to innovation. While our years of client-service experience provide strong indicators for the existence of a causal relationship between the attributes that survey respondents reported and the innovations of the companies we studied, the statistics described here can only prove correlation. Yet we firmly believe that if companies assimilate and apply these essentials—in their own way, in accordance with their particular context, capabilities, organizational culture, and appetite for risk—they will improve the likelihood that they, too, can rekindle the lost spark of innovation. In the digital age, the pace of change has gone into hyperspeed, so companies must get these strategic, creative, executional, and organizational factors right to innovate successfully.

President John F. Kennedy’s bold aspiration, in 1962, to “go to the moon in this decade” motivated a nation to unprecedented levels of innovation. A far-reaching vision can be a compelling catalyst, provided it’s realistic enough to stimulate action today.

But in a corporate setting, as many CEOs have discovered, even the most inspiring words often are insufficient, no matter how many times they are repeated. It helps to combine high-level aspirations with estimates of the value that innovation should generate to meet financial-growth objectives. Quantifying an “innovation target for growth,” and making it an explicit part of future strategic plans, helps solidify the importance of and accountability for innovation. The target itself must be large enough to force managers to include innovation investments in their business plans. If they can make their numbers using other, less risky tactics, our experience suggests that they (quite rationally) will.

Establishing a quantitative innovation aspiration is not enough, however. The target value needs to be apportioned to relevant business “owners” and cascaded down to their organizations in the form of performance targets and timelines. Anything less risks encouraging inaction or the belief that innovation is someone else’s job.

For example, Lantmännen, a big Nordic agricultural cooperative, was challenged by flat organic growth and directionless innovation. Top executives created an aspirational vision and strategic plan linked to financial targets: 6 percent growth in the core business and 2 percent growth in new organic ventures. To encourage innovation projects, these quantitative targets were cascaded down to business units and, ultimately, to product groups. During the development of each innovation project, it had to show how it was helping to achieve the growth targets for its category and markets. As a result, Lantmännen went from 4 percent to 13 percent annual growth, underpinned by the successful launch of several new brands. Indeed, it became the market leader in premade food only four years after entry and created a new premium segment in this market.

Such performance parameters can seem painful to managers more accustomed to the traditional approach. In our experience, though, CEOs are likely just going through the motions if they don’t use evaluations and remuneration to assess and recognize the contribution that all top managers make to innovation.

Fresh, creative insights are invaluable, but in our experience many companies run into difficulty less from a scarcity of new ideas than from the struggle to determine which ideas to support and scale. At bigger companies, this can be particularly problematic during market discontinuities, when supporting the next wave of growth may seem too risky, at least until competitive dynamics force painful changes.

Innovation is inherently risky, to be sure, and getting the most from a portfolio of innovation initiatives is more about managing risk than eliminating it. Since no one knows exactly where valuable innovations will emerge, and searching everywhere is impractical, executives must create some boundary conditions for the opportunity spaces they want to explore. The process of identifying and bounding these spaces can run the gamut from intuitive visions of the future to carefully scrutinized strategic analyses. Thoughtfully prioritizing these spaces also allows companies to assess whether they have enough investment behind their most valuable opportunities.

During this process, companies should set in motion more projects than they will ultimately be able to finance, which makes it easier to kill those that prove less promising. RELX Group, for example, runs 10 to 15 experiments per major customer segment, each funded with a preliminary budget of around $200,000, through its innovation pipeline every year, choosing subsequently to invest more significant funds in one or two of them, and dropping the rest. “One of the hardest things to figure out is when to kill something,” says Kumsal Bayazit, RELX Group’s chief strategy officer. “It’s a heck of a lot easier if you have a portfolio of ideas.”

Once the opportunities are defined, companies need transparency into what people are working on and a governance process that constantly assesses not only the expected value, timing, and risk of the initiatives in the portfolio but also its overall composition. There’s no single mix that’s universally right. Most established companies err on the side of overloading their innovation pipelines with relatively safe, short-term, and incremental projects that have little chance of realizing their growth targets or staying within their risk parameters. Some spread themselves thinly across too many projects instead of focusing on those with the highest potential for success and resourcing them to win.

These tendencies get reinforced by a sluggish resource-reallocation process. Our research shows that a company typically reallocates only a tiny fraction of its resources from year to year, thereby sentencing innovation to a stagnating march of incrementalism. 1 1. See Stephen Hall, Dan Lovallo, and Reinier Musters, “ How to put your money where your strategy is ,” McKinsey Quarterly , March 2012; and Vanessa Chan, Marc de Jong, and Vidyadhar Ranade, “ Finding the sweet spot for allocating innovation resources ,” McKinsey Quarterly , May 2014.

Innovation also requires actionable and differentiated insights—the kind that excite customers and bring new categories and markets into being. How do companies develop them? Genius is always an appealing approach, if you have or can get it. Fortunately, innovation yields to other approaches besides exceptional creativity.

The rest of us can look for insights by methodically and systematically scrutinizing three areas: a valuable problem to solve, a technology that enables a solution, and a business model that generates money from it. You could argue that nearly every successful innovation occurs at the intersection of these three elements. Companies that effectively collect, synthesize, and “collide” them stand the highest probability of success. “If you get the sweet spot of what the customer is struggling with, and at the same time get a deeper knowledge of the new technologies coming along and find a mechanism for how these two things can come together, then you are going to get good returns,” says Alcoa chairman and chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld.

The insight-discovery process, which extends beyond a company’s boundaries to include insight-generating partnerships, is the lifeblood of innovation. We won’t belabor the matter here, though, because it’s already the subject of countless articles and books. 2 2. See, for example, Marla M. Capozzi, Reneé Dye, and Amy Howe, “ Sparking creativity in teams: An executive’s guide ,” McKinsey Quarterly , April 2011; and Marla M. Capozzi, John Horn, and Ari Kellen, “ Battle-test your innovation strategy ,” McKinsey Quarterly , December 2012. One thing we can add is that discovery is iterative, and the active use of prototypes can help companies continue to learn as they develop, test, validate, and refine their innovations. Moreover, we firmly believe that without a fully developed innovation system encompassing the other elements described in this article, large organizations probably won’t innovate successfully, no matter how effective their insight-generation process is. 

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Business-model innovations—which change the economics of the value chain, diversify profit streams, and/or modify delivery models—have always been a vital part of a strong innovation portfolio. As smartphones and mobile apps threaten to upend oldline industries, business-model innovation has become all the more urgent: established companies must reinvent their businesses before technology-driven upstarts do. Why, then, do most innovation systems so squarely emphasize new products? The reason, of course, is that most big companies are reluctant to risk tampering with their core business model until it’s visibly under threat. At that point, they can only hope it’s not too late.

Leading companies combat this troubling tendency in a number of ways. They up their game in market intelligence, the better to separate signal from noise. They establish funding vehicles for new businesses that don’t fit into the current structure. They constantly reevaluate their position in the value chain, carefully considering business models that might deliver value to priority groups of new customers. They sponsor pilot projects and experiments away from the core business to help combat narrow conceptions of what they are and do. And they stress-test newly emerging value propositions and operating models against countermoves by competitors.

Amazon does a particularly strong job extending itself into new business models by addressing the emerging needs of its customers and suppliers. In fact, it has included many of its suppliers in its customer base by offering them an increasingly wide range of services, from hosted computing to warehouse management. Another strong performer, the Financial Times , was already experimenting with its business model in response to the increasing digitalization of media when, in 2007, it launched an innovative subscription model, upending its relationship with advertisers and readers. “We went against the received wisdom of popular strategies at the time,” says Caspar de Bono, FT board member and managing director of B2B. “We were very deliberate in getting ahead of the emerging structural change, and the decisions turned out to be very successful.” In print’s heyday, 80 percent of the FT ’s revenue came from print advertising. Now, more than half of it comes from content, and two-thirds of circulation comes from digital subscriptions.

Virulent antibodies undermine innovation at many large companies. Cautious governance processes make it easy for stifling bureaucracies in marketing, legal, IT, and other functions to find reasons to halt or slow approvals. Too often, companies simply get in the way of their own attempts to innovate. A surprising number of impressive innovations from companies were actually the fruit of their mavericks, who succeeded in bypassing their early-approval processes. Clearly, there’s a balance to be maintained: bureaucracy must be held in check, yet the rush to market should not undermine the cross-functional collaboration, continuous learning cycles, and clear decision pathways that help enable innovation. Are managers with the right knowledge, skills, and experience making the crucial decisions in a timely manner, so that innovation continually moves through an organization in a way that creates and maintains competitive advantage, without exposing a company to unnecessary risk?

Companies also thrive by testing their promising ideas with customers early in the process, before internal forces impose modifications that blur the original value proposition. To end up with the innovation initially envisioned, it’s necessary to knock down the barriers  that stand between a great idea and the end user. Companies need a well-connected manager to take charge of a project and be responsible for the budget, time to market, and key specifications—a person who can say yes rather than no. In addition, the project team needs to be cross-functional in reality, not just on paper. This means locating its members in a single place and ensuring that they give the project a significant amount of their time (at least half) to support a culture that puts the innovation project’s success above the success of each function.

Cross-functional collaboration can help ensure end-user involvement throughout the development process. At many companies, marketing’s role is to champion the interests of end users as development teams evolve products and to help ensure that the final result is what everyone first envisioned. But this responsibility is honored more often in the breach than in the observance. Other companies, meanwhile, rationalize that consumers don’t necessarily know what they want until it becomes available. This may be true, but customers can certainly say what they don’t like. And the more quickly and frequently a project team gets—and uses—feedback, the more quickly it gets a great end result.

Some ideas, such as luxury goods and many smartphone apps, are destined for niche markets. Others, like social networks, work at global scale. Explicitly considering the appropriate magnitude and reach of a given idea is important to ensuring that the right resources and risks are involved in pursuing it. The seemingly safer option of scaling up over time can be a death sentence. Resources and capabilities must be marshaled to make sure a new product or service can be delivered quickly at the desired volume and quality. Manufacturing facilities, suppliers, distributors, and others must be prepared to execute a rapid and full rollout.

For example, when TomTom launched its first touch-screen navigational device, in 2004, the product flew off the shelves. By 2006, TomTom’s line of portable navigation devices reached sales of about 5 million units a year, and by 2008, yearly volume had jumped to more than 12 million. “That’s faster market penetration than mobile phones” had, says Harold Goddijn, TomTom’s CEO and cofounder. While TomTom’s initial accomplishment lay in combining a well-defined consumer problem with widely available technology components, rapid scaling was vital to the product’s continuing success. “We doubled down on managing our cash, our operations, maintaining quality, all the parts of the iceberg no one sees,” Goddijn adds. “We were hugely well organized.”

In the space of only a few years, companies in nearly every sector have conceded that innovation requires external collaborators. Flows of talent and knowledge increasingly transcend company and geographic boundaries. Successful innovators achieve significant multiples for every dollar invested in innovation by accessing the skills and talents of others. In this way, they speed up innovation and uncover new ways to create value for their customers and ecosystem partners.

Smart collaboration with external partners, though, goes beyond merely sourcing new ideas and insights; it can involve sharing costs and finding faster routes to market. Famously, the components of Apple’s first iPod were developed almost entirely outside the company; by efficiently managing these external partnerships, Apple was able to move from initial concept to marketable product in only nine months. NASA’s Ames Research Center teams up not just with international partners—launching joint satellites with nations as diverse as Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden—but also with emerging companies, such as SpaceX.

High-performing innovators work hard to develop the ecosystems that help deliver these benefits. Indeed, they strive to become partners of choice, increasing the likelihood that the best ideas and people will come their way. That requires a systematic approach. First, these companies find out which partners they are already working with; surprisingly few companies know this. Then they decide which networks—say, four or five of them—they ideally need to support their innovation strategies. This step helps them to narrow and focus their collaboration efforts and to manage the flow of possibilities from outside the company. Strong innovators also regularly review their networks, extending and pruning them as appropriate and using sophisticated incentives and contractual structures to motivate high-performing business partners. Becoming a true partner of choice is, among other things, about clarifying what a partnership can offer the junior member: brand, reach, or access, perhaps. It is also about behavior. Partners of choice are fair and transparent in their dealings.

Moreover, companies that make the most of external networks have a good idea of what’s most useful at which stages of the innovation process. In general, they cast a relatively wide net in the early going. But as they come closer to commercializing a new product or service, they become narrower and more specific in their sourcing, since by then the new offering’s design is relatively set.

How do leading companies stimulate, encourage, support, and reward innovative behavior and thinking among the right groups of people? The best companies find ways to embed innovation into the fibers of their culture, from the core to the periphery.

They start back where we began: with aspirations that forge tight connections among innovation, strategy, and performance. When a company sets financial targets for innovation and defines market spaces, minds become far more focused. As those aspirations come to life through individual projects across the company, innovation leaders clarify responsibilities using the appropriate incentives and rewards.

The Discovery Group, for example, is upending the medical and life-insurance industries in its native South Africa and also has operations in the United Kingdom, the United States, and China, among other locations. Innovation is a standard measure in the company’s semiannual divisional scorecards—a process that helps mobilize the organization and affects roughly 1,000 of the company’s business leaders. “They are all required to innovate every year,” Discovery founder and CEO Adrian Gore says of the company’s business leaders. “They have no choice.”

Organizational changes may be necessary, not because structural silver bullets exist—we’ve looked hard for them and don’t think they do—but rather to promote collaboration, learning, and experimentation. Companies must help people to share ideas and knowledge freely, perhaps by locating teams working on different types of innovation in the same place, reviewing the structure of project teams to make sure they always have new blood, ensuring that lessons learned from success and failure are captured and assimilated, and recognizing innovation efforts even when they fall short of success.

Internal collaboration and experimentation can take years to establish, particularly in large, mature companies with strong cultures and ways of working that, in other respects, may have served them well. Some companies set up “innovation garages” where small groups can work on important projects unconstrained by the normal working environment while building new ways of working that can be scaled up and absorbed into the larger organization. NASA, for example, has ten field centers. But the space agency relies on the Ames Research Center, in Silicon Valley, to maintain what its former director, Dr. Pete Worden, calls “the character of rebels” to function as “a laboratory that’s part of a much larger organization.”

Big companies do not easily reinvent themselves as leading innovators. Too many fixed routines and cultural factors can get in the way. For those that do make the attempt, innovation excellence is often built in a multiyear effort that touches most, if not all, parts of the organization. Our experience and research suggest that any company looking to make this journey will maximize its probability of success by closely studying and appropriately assimilating the leading practices of high-performing innovators. Taken together, these form an essential operating system for innovation within a company’s organizational structure and culture.

Marc de Jong is a principal in McKinsey’s Amsterdam office, Nathan Marston is a principal in the London office, and Erik Roth is a principal in the Shanghai office.

The authors wish to thank Jill Hellman and McKinsey’s Peet van Biljon for their contributions to this article.

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What is Innovation Strategy? Stages, Types & Examples

Picture this — you have a new startup or large business operating in a highly competitive market. A constant shift in trends makes it hard to keep up with your competitors and offer products people want. How will your organization keep up with those changes, thrive in the market, and set the pace for the industry with what you offer?

In the business world, the answer usually lies in your innovation strategy . It isn’t only about generating great ideas — it’s also about creating a strategy to put your ideas into place to drive growth and attract customers.

In this guide, we’ll walk through creating an innovation strategy. We’ll go through the process — from idea generation to executing your plan . We’ll also cover the types of innovation you can invest in and a few examples of companies innovating in competitive markets.

What is innovation strategy?

What are the stages of innovation strategy, what are the types of innovation strategy, what are some examples of successful innovation strategies, imd’s driving strategic innovation program — empowering businesses for innovation success.

An innovation strategy is a detailed roadmap with a series of strips that helps your organization reach its future goals. This roadmap isn’t just a guide for business success — it’s a guide that helps you keep up in your industry by thinking of new and innovative ways to tackle problems.

These innovations can be creating new products to solve future problems, optimizing business processes to be more efficient, or thinking of entirely new ways to disrupt your industry.

Ultimately, your innovation strategy will help you align your business with your customer’s needs and create products and services to give your company a competitive advantage.

The innovation process doesn’t happen in a vacuum — it requires a clear process that takes a new idea and brings it to market.

1. Idea generation and ideation

Idea generation is the foundation of an innovation system. It’s the process that helps companies develop ideas to compete in the market and explore new opportunities without taking too much risk.

Many companies innovate by taking advantage of new technologies for insights — learning from data to see what problems customers have that you can solve. Innovators can use this information to explore new ideas and brainstorm ways to bring those ideas to life.

The vital part of this process is customer feedback. A great idea needs a customer base available to see success — and not every idea will have people around willing to pay money to access it. New ideas need customer validation to determine if they are viable.

2. Idea evaluation and selection

Idea evaluation and selection is assessing new ideas to see if they are feasible. During this process, you’ll look at costs, time to market, potential profit, and other business metrics to see if it’s worth pursuing an idea.

If it looks like a product you’re considering has a chance to succeed, then the next step is to compare it with what’s currently on the market. Is your new product something new that doesn’t exist yet, or does it improve on existing products? Will this help your company stand out?Use this information to find the unique value proposition and determine if the idea is worth pursuing.

3. Implementation and execution

The implementation and execution phase is where you take your new idea and turn it into a concrete plan to make it a reality. But this stage is more than building a product — it’s also about creating a successful business strategy and finding help to create your idea.

The first step is product development. Which vendors can supply the materials for your product or help you manufacture it? Which members of your team will be the best fit for development?

Once you find the right people, implementation becomes a matter of executing a plan. It involves project management, resource management, process management, and continuous improvement. 

4. Monitoring and evaluation

You’re breaking new ground when innovating in an industry, so you may not get everything right. Monitoring and evaluation will help you handle those problems and adapt your innovation efforts.

Your goal when monitoring a new project is to assess your performance. Is what you’re doing helping you achieve your goals and keeping you on track for release?

A key part of doing this is metrics. These numbers will tell you how well you are doing. Track your time to release, product progress, defects, and eventual return on investment. Reassess your strategy and make changes if your metrics show you aren’t meeting your goals.

There isn’t one type of innovation in business. Let’s look at four of the main ways you can create new and innovative ideas.

  • Product innovation : Product innovation is the process of building new products or upgrading existing ones to meet customer needs in a new way. It helps companies offer better products and stay competitive in evolving markets. This process happens when you pay attention to product markets. You see the problems customers have and their issues with the current offerings. Use that information to develop novel ways to solve those problems and offer a better customer experience.
  • Process innovation : Process innovation is changing how you do things inside an organization. You aim to apply new initiatives and technology to optimize efficiency and your ability to compete in the market. Take the inclusion of a new IT system, for instance. New technological innovation can improve your employees’ ability to collaborate and get more done — allowing them to serve customers better in your core business.
  • Business model innovation : Business model innovation is about making big changes to how a business runs. It isn’t just a few changes in business processes or a new product. Your goal is to create new business models to capture value in the market. One of the common ways this happens is finding new sources of revenue. An excellent example of this is service businesses adding subscriptions to their revenue. Take an HVAC company. Instead of relying on incoming calls to get business, HVAC companies offer customers a maintenance plan — allowing companies to get a new source of predictable revenue.
  • Disruptive innovation : Disruptive innovation is about shaking things up. You aren’t launching products that are a minor upgrade of what exists — you’re making game-changing innovation initiatives that disrupt existing business models. Radical innovation often comes from startups, such as rideshare companies taking on the taxi industry. You’re rewriting some of the rules to take on the established industries to provide a better service and give people more options.

Now that you’ve seen what types of innovations there are, let’s look at a few innovation strategy examples.

Amazon was one of the first companies to use the internet to sell products. It started as an online bookstore, but as time passed, it changed its focus to become a one-stop marketplace for every product you can imagine.

Since then, Amazon has continued to use technology to innovate in the online market. It now offers subscription services to offer more customer value, video streaming, audiobooks, eBooks, and countless other value-added services for its customers.

Apple’s innovation projects are a blend of user-centric design and quality. Apple doesn’t often create brand-new product categories. Instead, it waits to see how technology trends play out and creates innovative approaches to those products.

One of the best examples of this is the iPhone. Apple didn’t create the first smartphone. Blackberry was one of the first to market and was popular for a while.

But smartphones didn’t start making their way into most homes until Apple unveiled the iPhone — their easy-to-use smartphone offering that every consumer can use.

Startups and entrepreneurs

Innovation is at the heart of the startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Let’s look at how a few companies changed the game with their new innovations.

  • Uber: Took on the taxi industry by allowing regular people to use their cars to offer rideshare services to customers using mobile apps.
  • Airbnb: Competed against the established hotel industry to give people more lodging options and allow homeowners to rent parts of their homes.
  • Netflix: Used a subscription model and on-demand streaming approach instead of a monthly fee for live TV.
  • Stripe: Changed the payment industry by allowing companies to integrate payment processing into their websites easily.

Innovation strategy is an essential part of creating a roadmap for long-term success. It helps you define new product ideas, validate them in the market, and execute the process of bringing them to life. Without the right strategy, you take more risk of building products that don’t work or won’t meet your customers’ needs. IMD offers business school programs for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to learn how to drive innovation in their businesses.

Learn more about what we offer and how our program for driving strategic innovation can help you accomplish more in business and build something great.

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 - IMD Business School

Are you curious how certain new businesses can completely reshape industries and leave established companies struggling to keep up? In the ever-changing business world, staying ahead of the competition requires constant innovation. While there have been many ideas and strategies over time, few have been as impactful and enduring as disruptive innovation. This article will […]

 - IMD Business School

Picture this — you have a new startup or large business operating in a highly competitive market. A constant shift in trends makes it hard to keep up with your competitors and offer products people want. How will your organization keep up with those changes, thrive in the market, and set the pace for the […]

 - IMD Business School

For companies willing to embrace innovation during uncertain times, the rewards can be transformative, both during a crisis and in its aftermath. In this article, we demystify the concept of business innovation, offering actionable steps and tangible examples to help ignite a culture of innovation within your organization. We delve into the many benefits of […]


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7 Insanely Creative Business Plan Templates

Even the greatest new business idea needs to stand out to win support from investors..

business plan

Starting your own business is so stressful, with so many things to be done, that it's easy to convince yourself that doing the bare minimum for a business plan is enough.

There are a ton of business plan templates out there, so you could always just dump your own information into one of them and run with it.

After all, you just need it to get funding , and then you'll never look at it again.

Well, you could do that, but your business plan can actually be a living document you use often, to ensure your performance and growth are on track.

Updating and referring to your plan on a regular basis can drive better decision making and help keep your focus clear. This is critical as the demands of growth, customers, staff, and investors threaten to cloud your company's vision.

A generic business plan sample with your details just dumped in isn't going to wow anyone, and it's not going to inspire you on a regular basis .

Hopefully, I've convinced you the plan is important--but it's just as important that it's not boring.

You're making your pitches even tougher if you're using a generic, flavorless business plan. But I know from experience that the last thing you have when you're starting your own business is an abundance of time to dream up creative ideas for your business plan.

Don't worry--you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Check out these insanely creative business plan templates for your new business idea and imagine the difference one could make in helping you get past that first major hurdle with investors : grabbing their attention in a BIG way.

1. Business Plan Infographic PowerPoint

business plan about innovative

Present your market analysis, timeline, statistics, and more in an engaging and highly visual infographic . The license for this plan is $16 and gives you access to hundreds of editable slides to choose from.

2. Lean Canvas 1-Page Business Plan

"You can have all your assumptions and models in one place," promises Lean Canvas. They point out that you can create a canvas in 20 minutes, whereas a full business plan could take you 20 days.

business plan about innovative

3. StartupX PowerPoint Template

This one stands out to me in a sea of PPT business plan templates, thanks to the crazy modifications you can make.

business plan about innovative

4. Emaze Business Planning With Analytics

Emaze is unique in that it's more than a template--it's a comprehensive presentation creation tool with a ton of templates that also includes collaboration and analytics.

business plan about innovative

It's not free--the premium version is $19 per month as I'm writing this--but the collaborative element alone means it's a great tool for small teams attempting to build a plan together.

5. Startup Pitch

This PPT-format business plan sample has a creative tear-away design that's super eye catching and unique.

business plan about innovative

A simple, standout design like this gets their attention but keeps it where it should be: on your amazing product and new business idea.

6. PlanCruncher

PlanCruncher walks you through a series of simple questions, with the opportunity to expand your thoughts only in a tweet-sized paragraph (140 characters).

business plan about innovative

7. LivePlan

Have you noticed that the trend in business planning right now is that less is more? LivePlan is another super-easy-to-use tool where you input your information and it creates a one-page, infographic-style business plan for you.

business plan about innovative

Give one of these creative business-planning tools a try for a pitch that will stand up and scream at investors, instantly grabbing their attention. Then, it's up to you to really sell it. Good luck!

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A New Approach to Strategic Innovation

  • Haijian Si,
  • Christoph Loch,
  • Stelios Kavadias

business plan about innovative

Companies typically treat their innovation projects as a portfolio, aiming for a mix of projects that collectively meet their strategic objectives. The problem, say the authors, is that portfolio objectives have become standardized, and innovation projects are often only weakly related to a company’s distinctive strategy.

This article introduces a new tool to help leaders better align their innovation investments. The strategic innovation tool kit has two elements: a strategy summary framework and an innovation basket. Leaders start by clarifying a unit’s strategy and determining what needs to change to achieve it. The change needs are translated into innovation goals, and leaders create their “innovation basket” by plotting each project against those goals. They can then cut projects that aren’t aligned and create new ones that are. It’s an iterative and creative process: Projects are adjusted to fit the strategy but can also shape it.

Examples from the authors’ research demonstrate how the process of creating an innovation basket gives managers fresh insight into what their innovation activities are really doing for their strategy.

A tool for connecting your projects with your goals

Companies typically treat their innovation projects as a portfolio: a mix of projects that, collectively, aim to meet their various strategic objectives. Some projects, for instance, will improve business processes, others develop new products and services.

  • HS Haijian Si is the former CEO of Chinese new energy companies Linuo Power Group Co., Huanyu Power, and Hanergy Thin Film Power and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School.
  • CL Christoph Loch is a professor at and the former director (dean) of the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School.  He is also a visiting professor at PHBS Business School, Shenzhen, China
  • Stelios Kavadias is the Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation and Growth at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and the director of its Entrepreneurship Centre.

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50 Innovation Examples: Exciting Innovative Ideas in Business

Published: 03 April, 2024

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Stefan F.Dieffenbacher

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In the Business environment, strategic innovation has taken centre stage as a fundamental catalyst for business success. The ever-changing market conditions and the swift progress of technology require companies to perpetually adjust and introduce innovation to stay ahead of the competition. Within this dynamic environment, the domain of innovation provides an expansive and limitless vista, offering a multitude of prospects that encompass the inception of fresh products and services and the crafting of digital business models . These prospects are virtually boundless, establishing innovation as a foundational element of business strategy .

In this article, we will explore some of the most captivating and inspiring innovations in business Examples spanning various industries. We delve into these case studies to gain a deeper understanding of their profound impact on the market, revealing the potential for innovation to reshape the business environment in remarkable ways.

What is Innovation in Business?

Innovation definition in business is the process through which an individual or organization embarks on creating entirely fresh products, processes, and concepts, or reimagining existing products, processes, and concepts in novel ways. it’s about reshaping how organizations operate, enhance value creation , and interact with stakeholders. 

Whether it involves the creation of novel products, enhancements to existing ones, advancements in technologies, or the establishment of business model innovation , an Innovation program becomes indispensable for fostering growth, maintaining competitive advantage, and driving social progress. Many businesses grapple with the challenge of innovating effectively in the absence of a well-defined plan. This underscores the critical importance of understanding the diverse types of innovation.

Exponentially Accelerating Change is a transformative concept that demands attention from organizations seeking to secure their future in a rapidly evolving landscape. This model emphasizes the urgency of incorporating innovation into the very fabric of  business strategy . Understanding the exponential nature of technological advancement is crucial for anticipating disruptions and staying ahead of the curve.  The ability to navigate and harness the potential of exponentially accelerating change can propel organizations into positions of industry leadership. In a world where staying relevant is synonymous with staying innovative, this model serves as a strategic guide for businesses to not only weather the waves of change but to ride them towards sustained success. You can download it now.

Examples of Exponential Accelerating Change

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Successful corporate innovative ideas examples .

In the corporate business world, success is often synonymous with innovation. It’s not merely about adopting innovation as a concept; it’s about orchestrating innovative ideas into masterpieces that define the very essence of success. As we delve deeper into the realms of corporate innovation and explore exemplary company innovation examples , we uncover the strategies and groundbreaking approaches these companies have employed, dissecting the components of their success symphonies. 

Beyond the surface, we’ll examine the intricate notes of innovation that have propelled these organizations to the summit of their respective industries, and how these companies have transformed the business environment, leaving an indelible mark on the melody of success.

Exploring new innovation ideas , these companies serve as beacons of inspiration in the realm of corporate innovation . From pioneering disruptive technologies to embracing incremental improvements, they showcase the diversity of approaches that contribute to the ever-evolving landscape of business success. These company innovation examples illuminate the path for others to follow, encouraging a culture where new innovative ideas are not only welcomed but celebrated.

Corporate innovation isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. It’s a symphony where each company plays its unique melody of success. The resonance of their innovative ideas reverberates in the business world, inspiring others to harmonize their strategies and create their own successful symphonies. As we explore these company innovation examples , we witness the transformative power of embracing new innovation ideas , underscoring that the melody of success is ever-evolving and shaped by the continuous pursuit of innovation in all its forms.

Examples of Innovation in Business

In the dynamic landscape of business, the pursuit of innovation is a cornerstone for growth and adaptability. Companies that embrace innovation not only stay relevant in competitive markets but also often become trailblazers that set new industry standards. The essence of innovation lies in the ability to think differently, solve problems creatively, and continuously evolve. 

(1) Product Innovation Examples

Over millennia, humanity has witnessed remarkable product innovations that have endured through time. From the ancient wheel and Gutenberg’s printing press to modern marvels like the internet and cellular phones, these inventions have reshaped society, communication, and daily life. The bagless vacuum cleaner, a more recent addition, showcases ongoing advancements in convenience and efficiency. Each innovation stands as a testament to human ingenuity and progress, shaping the world we live in today.

Product innovation involves the development of a new product or the enhancement of an existing one, strategically crafted to address customers’ needs in a unique and innovative manner. 

Successful Innovative Products Examples include the introduction of electric cars, smart home technologies, or advancements in medical devices. The process of product innovation involves generating and exploring ideas that challenge the status quo, encouraging creativity and the discovery of solutions that have the potential to revolutionize industries and capture the imagination of consumers. It’s through these forward-thinking endeavours that product innovation truly comes to life, shaping the landscape of markets and paving the way for transformative advancements.

1) Apple Product Innovation:

Apple Company stands as a paramount example of product innovation , redefining the way people interact with mobile devices. Despite not being the initial creator of touchscreen devices, Apple’s distinctive edge lay in its meticulous attention to user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), creating devices that were not only accessible but also garnered a dedicated following. The introduction of the iPhone, with its seamless touch interface and intuitive design, set a new standard for the entire smartphone industry.

2) Ikea Product Innovation

Ikea the global furniture giant revolutionized the furniture industry by selling innovative products in a ‘flat-pack’ format. This not only improved the convenience and logistics of furniture purchasing but also positioned Ikea as the go-to brand for value furniture. Customers could now transport and assemble furniture easily, reducing costs and enhancing the overall customer experience. Ikea’s approach transformed the way people buy and assemble furniture, setting a benchmark for the industry.

3)Toyota Product Innovation

Toyota company renowned Japanese automotive manufacturer, has embraced a continuous improvement philosophy known as kaizen. Instead of pursuing risky radical transformations, Toyota focuses on core developments that compound over time. This approach has allowed Toyota to stay at the forefront of the automotive industry, introducing incremental innovations in manufacturing processes, fuel efficiency, and vehicle safety.

4) Tesla Product Innovation

Tesla’s impact on the automotive industry is profound, stemming from a combination of groundbreaking innovations. At the core of their success is the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) that transcend traditional automotive norms. 

Tesla’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its battery technology, notably produced at the Gigafactory, which not only enhances the efficiency of EVs but also lowers overall production costs. The Supercharger network addresses EV charging concerns, providing a rapid charging infrastructure for long-distance travel. 

(2) Technological Innovation Examples

Technology Innovation is about creating or improving technologies for enhanced capabilities. It requires substantial investment in research and development, adaptability to market trends, and a focus on delivering value. Success hinges on effective management of intellectual property, talent, and partnerships.

Delivering value is the ultimate goal of technology innovation. Whether it’s enhancing efficiency, improving user experiences, or solving complex problems, innovative technology aims to make a positive impact. This focus on value creation is what drives the adoption of new technologies and positions them as drivers of progress.

1) Mobile Technology and Smartphones:

The advent of mobile technology, particularly smartphones, has revolutionized communication, entertainment, and productivity. Smartphones are not merely devices for making calls; they serve as portable computers with features like high-quality cameras, powerful processors, and a myriad of applications that have transformed how individuals access information and connect with the world.

2) Electric Vehicles (EVs) Technological Innovation

Electric Vehicles (EVs) stand as a pinnacle of technological innovation within the automotive sector, ushering in a transformative era for transportation. Key advancements in battery technology, notably the adoption of lithium-ion batteries, play a crucial role in extending driving ranges and minimizing charging times. Complementing these innovations are regenerative braking systems that enhance energy efficiency, and the integration of electric motors like Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors, ensuring superior performance.

Battery Management Systems (BMS) emerge as critical components, actively monitoring and optimizing battery health to contribute to longevity. Beyond their electric prowess, EVs incorporate autonomous driving features and connectivity options, heightening safety and operational efficiency. The concerted efforts to establish a robust fast-charging infrastructure aim to further reduce charging times, while the incorporation of lightweight materials and aerodynamic design bolsters energy efficiency and overall range.

Adding another layer of sustainability, Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology enables bidirectional energy flow, empowering EVs to contribute surplus energy back to the grid. These collective technological innovations position EVs not only as eco-friendly alternatives but also as efficient solutions that are reshaping the landscape of personal transportation for a sustainable future.

3) Information Technology (IT) Innovation

Innovative solutions continually redefine how businesses operate and interact with the digital realm. Here are two compelling examples that showcase the transformative power of innovation example :

Artificial Intelligence (AI):

AI involves the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. Machine learning, a subset of AI, enables systems to learn and improve from experience. AI is applied in various domains, including natural language processing, image recognition, and autonomous systems. Companies use AI to enhance customer experiences, optimize operations, and drive innovation in products and services.

Internet of Things (IoT):

IoT refers to the interconnectivity of everyday devices, enabling them to send and receive data. This interconnected network allows for real-time monitoring, analysis, and control of devices. In the home, IoT devices include smart thermostats, security cameras, and wearable devices. In industries, IoT is used for predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and more.

Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing has transformed the way businesses store, process, and access data. Instead of relying on physical servers, cloud computing provides on-demand access to computing resources, allowing organizations to scale operations seamlessly. It has facilitated innovations such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS). 

(3) Process Innovation Examples

Process Innovation involves creating and implementing new or improved processes with enhanced capabilities, functionalities, or efficiencies. It focuses on finding better ways to do things, offering useful improvements over previous methods.

1) Ford Assembly Line Process Innovation Examples

An example of process innovation is the Ford automated assembly line. In 1913, Henry Ford introduced the pioneering concept of an assembly line to enhance automobile production. Through innovative practices, Ford successfully slashed the time required to manufacture a car from 12 hours to an astonishingly efficient less than 2 hours.

Beyond the assembly line, Ford has continued to innovate, incorporating automation, advanced materials, and digital technologies into its manufacturing processes. These advancements have not only improved efficiency and product quality but have also allowed Ford to adapt to the evolving landscape of the automotive industry.

2) MBA Polymers Process Innovation Examples

MBA Polymers is an industry leader in plastic recycling, innovating through advanced sorting and separation technologies. Their automated systems efficiently extract high-quality plastics from complex waste streams, including electronic waste. This process results in recycled plastics with properties comparable to virgin materials, reducing environmental impact and promoting a circular economy. MBA Polymers’ continuous investment in research and development ensures ongoing improvement and adaptability to global waste challenges.

3) Starbucks Process Innovation Examples

Starbucks has revolutionized the coffee industry through pioneering process innovations that prioritize efficiency and customer satisfaction. Their commitment to a seamless and customer-centric ordering and fulfilment process stands out prominently. Leveraging cutting-edge digital technology, Starbucks has introduced mobile ordering systems, allowing customers to place orders and make payments conveniently through their smartphones. This not only streamlines the purchasing process but also enhances overall efficiency. 

Additionally, Starbucks has excelled in delivering personalized customer experiences, utilizing data insights to tailor recommendations and promotions. By integrating technology into every facet of its operations, Starbucks has not only set new industry standards but has also created a dynamic and engaging coffee shop environment for its customers.

(4) Business model innovation Examples

Business model innovation empowers companies to distinguish themselves from competitors through the provision of distinctive value propositions, exploration of uncharted market segments, or harnessing emerging technological advancements. You can download it now.

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This strategic approach not only facilitates the attainment of a competitive advantage but also ensures that businesses remain at the forefront of the market.

1) Airbnb Business Model Innovation

Airbnb’s impact on hospitality goes beyond its peer-to-peer model, relying on process innovations. User-generated reviews build trust, enhancing host accountability. “Instant Booking” streamlines reservations, catering to immediate needs. Safety initiatives like the Host Guarantee and dynamic pricing show commitment. Diversification with “Experiences” and “Airbnb Plus” enhances offerings. A community-centered approach fosters direct communication among hosts. Amidst COVID-19, the “Enhanced Clean” program addresses health concerns, showcasing Airbnb’s dedication to a unique, secure, and community-driven travel experience.

2) Spotify Business Model Innovation:

Spotify’s freemium model offers features such as personalized playlists and recommendations based on individual listening habits. This enhances the overall user experience and encourages users to explore premium features for an even more tailored and enjoyable music streaming experience.

It strategically expanded its content offering beyond music to include podcasts, diversifying its platform and attracting a broader audience. This move positions Spotify as a comprehensive audio streaming platform, showcasing business model innovation in content delivery.

3) Google (AdWords) Business Model Innovation:

AdWords revolutionized digital advertising with the introduction of keyword targeting, enabling advertisers to bid on specific keywords related to their products or services. This precision targeting ensures that ads reach users actively seeking relevant information, enhancing the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.

Google’s continuous innovation with AdWords includes the introduction of ad extensions. These extensions provide additional information such as contact details, location, and site links, elevating the visibility and impact of advertisements. This business model innovation caters to advertisers’ evolving needs for comprehensive and engaging ad formats.

4) AirAsia Business Model Innovation:

AirAsia’s innovative business model relies on diversifying revenue streams beyond ticket sales. Ancillary services, including in-flight meals, seat selection, and baggage fees, contribute significantly to the airline’s revenue. This à la carte approach enables AirAsia to maintain competitive base ticket prices while offering customers flexibility in choosing additional services.

AirAsia’s embrace of digital technologies for ticket sales, check-ins, and customer interactions represents a strategic business model innovation. This digital transformation enhances operational efficiency, reduces costs, and elevates the overall customer experience, showcasing AirAsia’s adaptability in the dynamic aviation industry.

(5) Social Innovation Examples

Social Innovation involves developing and implementing new ideas, strategies, and solutions that address societal challenges and improve the well-being of communities. It goes beyond traditional approaches, seeking novel ways to tackle social issues such as poverty, inequality, healthcare, and environmental sustainability. 

It often involves collaboration between various stakeholders, including governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities, to create a positive and lasting social impact. The focus is on finding innovative, sustainable, and inclusive solutions that address the root causes of social problems and lead to positive societal change.

1) Grameen Bank Social Innovation:

Founded by Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh, the Grameen Bank pioneered the concept of microcredit in the 1970s. It extends small loans, often without requiring collateral, to impoverished individuals, particularly women, to support them in starting or expanding small businesses.

  • Grameen Bank’s model emphasizes financial inclusion and social development, focusing on the empowerment of women as key drivers of economic growth.
  • The program’s success in reducing poverty and empowering women has inspired similar microcredit initiatives worldwide, leading to the establishment of microfinance institutions across the globe.

2) Kiva Social Innovation:

Kiva is an online crowdfunding platform that connects individuals who want to lend money to entrepreneurs in developing countries who need microloans.

Borrowers on Kiva typically have small businesses or entrepreneurial endeavours, ranging from agriculture to small-scale manufacturing or retail.

Kiva’s innovative model allows people from around the world to make small contributions (as low as $25) to collective endeavours, creating a global community of lenders who support businesses in underserved areas.

3) Fair Trade Movement Social Innovation:

The Fair Trade movement promotes equitable trading relationships between consumers in developed countries and producers in developing nations.

Fair Trade standards ensure that producers, often small-scale farmers and artisans, receive fair compensation for their products. This fair pricing helps alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life in producer communities.

The movement also emphasizes sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, encouraging responsible agriculture and production methods.

4) Barefoot College Social Innovation:

Barefoot College’s social innovation extends beyond empowering women from marginalized rural communities to become solar engineers. The organization employs a unique model that emphasizes community-driven development and sustainability. It recognizes the significance of local knowledge and cultural context. The training provided not only equips women with the expertise to install and maintain solar panels but also emphasizes the integration of traditional wisdom and practices. This approach fosters a sense of ownership and self-reliance within the communities.

  • Barefoot College’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its emphasis on renewable energy sources. By harnessing solar power, the organization addresses both the energy needs of rural villages and the environmental impact of traditional energy sources. This aligns with global efforts to promote clean energy solutions and mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • The impact of Barefoot College extends beyond the immediate provision of clean energy. By empowering women in rural areas, the organization contributes to gender equality and women’s economic independence. Women trained as solar engineers not only play a crucial role in improving access to electricity but also become catalysts for broader community development.
  • Barefoot College’s innovative approach has gained international recognition, serving as a model for empowering marginalized communities globally. Its emphasis on skill-building, sustainability, and community-led initiatives underscores the potential for social innovation to address pressing challenges and create positive, lasting change.

5) Mobile Money Services Social Innovation:

Mobile money services like M-Pesa in Kenya have transformed the way people in underserved communities access financial services.

These services enable users to send and receive money, make payments, and access basic banking functions through their mobile phones.

By reducing the reliance on physical banks, mobile money services have significantly increased financial inclusion, making it easier for people in remote or rural areas to manage their finances and access economic opportunities.

(6) Service Innovation  Examples

Service innovation involves the development and implementation of new and existing innovation ideas and solutions for improved services, with examples such as Netflix, Uber, and Amazon Prime showcasing innovative services that have transformed their respective industries. Innovative solutions address customer problems, enhance customer experiences, and improve the overall quality and value of services.

Netflix Service Innovation:

Netflix revolutionized the entertainment industry by providing a subscription-based streaming service, allowing users to watch a vast library of movies and TV shows on various devices, disrupting traditional cable and satellite television.

Uber Service Innovation:

  • Uber transformed the transportation industry by introducing a convenient and efficient ride-sharing service through a mobile app. It changed the way people hail rides and significantly impacted traditional taxi services.
  • Uber’s impact includes the gig economy transformation, creating flexible earning opportunities for drivers. The app’s integration of features like real-time tracking and cashless transactions further enhanced the overall ride-sharing experience.

Amazon Prime Service Innovation:

  • Amazon Prime offers a subscription service that includes benefits like fast shipping, access to a vast library of movies and TV shows, and exclusive deals on Amazon’s e-commerce platform, providing a comprehensive package for customers.
  • Amazon Prime’s innovative bundling of services not only boosts customer loyalty but also drives sales on the e-commerce platform. The inclusion of services like Prime Video and Prime Music adds significant value, creating a holistic and competitive membership program.

(7) Value Innovation Examples

Value innovation is about creating a unique value proposition . It involves creating new or improved products, services, or business models that deliver unique value to customers while simultaneously reducing costs. Here are some examples of value innovation:

1) Southwest Airlines Value Innovation:

Southwest Airlines pioneered the low-cost, no-frills model in the airline industry. By eliminating unnecessary services and focusing on efficiency, they provided affordable air travel, challenging the traditional airline business model.

2) Cirque du Soleil value innovation examples:

Cirque du Soleil redefined the entertainment industry by combining elements of circus arts with theatre. This innovative approach created a new form of live entertainment that appealed to a broad audience, distinguishing itself from traditional circuses.

3) Nintendo Wii:

Nintendo Wii introduced a motion-sensing gaming console that appealed to a broader demographic, including non-traditional gamers. This innovation expanded the gaming market by making gaming more interactive and accessible.

(8) Breakthrough Innovation Examples

Breakthrough innovation refers to an internal innovation within a company that propels a product, service, or strategy to a higher level. It not only expands the company’s presence into new markets but also fundamentally alters the dynamics of how customers engage with the market or industry. This transformative process, occurring within the company, often results in a significant shift in market perception and customer interaction.

1) SpaceX Breakthrough Innovation:

  • SpaceX’s groundbreaking development of reusable rocket technology has not only significantly slashed the cost of space travel but has also ushered in a new era of sustainability in space exploration. By successfully landing and reusing rocket components, SpaceX has demonstrated the feasibility of cost-effective space missions. This breakthrough innovation not only has immediate financial implications but also fosters the potential for more frequent and ambitious space exploration missions, including those involving human spaceflight and interplanetary travel.

2) (IBM Watson) Breakthrough Innovation:

  • IBM Watson has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation across various industries. A standout breakthrough lies in its prowess in natural language processing, enabling it to comprehend and generate human-like text. In healthcare, Watson has played a pivotal role in medical research, drug discovery, and personalized medicine by analyzing vast datasets from clinical trials and patient records. 
  • The financial sector has benefited from Watson’s capabilities in risk assessment and fraud detection, while its application in customer service, through virtual assistants and chatbots, has enhanced user interactions. Watson’s strength in data analytics has found applications in diverse fields, from marketing to supply chain optimization. 

3) Blockchain Technology Breakthrough Innovation:

  • Recent breakthroughs in blockchain technology showcase a dynamic landscape marked by innovations addressing key challenges and expanding the technology’s potential applications. Scalability solutions, including layer-two protocols, are enhancing transaction throughput and alleviating congestion on major blockchains. Interoperability protocols are fostering a more interconnected blockchain ecosystem, enabling seamless communication between different networks.
  • Smart contracts, a cornerstone of blockchain functionality, are evolving to become more secure, flexible, and applicable across diverse industries. Privacy and confidentiality features, leveraging advanced cryptographic techniques, facilitate private transactions and secure data sharing on public blockchains. Additionally, there’s a notable emphasis on improving the energy efficiency of blockchain networks, with a shift toward more sustainable consensus mechanisms. The tokenization of assets, encompassing real estate, art, and intellectual property, is gaining traction, providing a liquid and accessible representation of ownership. 
  • The decentralized finance (DeFi) sector continues to flourish, reshaping traditional financial systems through blockchain-based lending, borrowing, and trading. These innovations collectively highlight the ongoing maturation and diversification of blockchain technology, with implications for industries far beyond its initial application in cryptocurrencies. For the latest developments, it’s advisable to refer to recent updates from the blockchain community.

(9)  Organizational Innovation Examples

Organizational Innovation entails creating and adopting new organizational structures, processes, and practices to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability of businesses. It involves reimagining conventional approaches, embracing emerging technologies and systems, and fostering a culture of innovation within the organization.

1) Morning Star’s Colleague Letter of Understanding (CLOU) Organizational Innovation:

  • Decentralized Decision-Making: The CLOU at Morning Star facilitates decentralized decision-making, allowing employees to negotiate and define their roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations. This approach empowers individuals to take ownership of their work and contribute to the organization’s success.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: The absence of traditional managers encourages a culture of flexibility and adaptability. Employees can quickly adjust their roles and responsibilities based on changing priorities, fostering a dynamic and responsive work environment.
  • Mutual Accountability: The CLOU promotes mutual accountability, as colleagues collaboratively define expectations for each other. This shared understanding of roles and responsibilities enhances communication and accountability at all levels of the organization.

2) W.L. Gore’s Lattice Organizational Innovation:

  • Collaborative Environment: The lattice organizational structure at W.L. Gore promotes a collaborative and non-hierarchical environment. Employees, known as associates, are encouraged to collaborate across functions and departments, breaking down traditional silos.
  • Project-Based Teams: The lattice structure allows employees to work on multiple projects simultaneously, contributing their skills to various initiatives within the company. This flexibility enhances creativity, knowledge sharing, and innovation.
  • Flat Hierarchy: With minimal hierarchy, decision-making is distributed, and associates have the autonomy to make decisions within their areas of expertise. This flat organizational structure supports a culture of trust and empowerment.

Open Innovation vs Closed Innovation Examples

acknowledges that valuable ideas can come from anywhere and encourages a more porous boundary between the organization and its external environment.
Involves seeking external ideas, collaboration, and partnerships to advance innovation. 
Closed innovation assumes that the organization possesses the necessary expertise and resources to innovate internally.
Focuses on internal research and development, keeping closed. 
1- : 
Crowdsourcing involves obtaining ideas, solutions, or feedback from a large group of external contributors, typically through an open call or a platform designed for this purpose. Organizations can tap into a diverse pool of expertise and perspectives. Crowdsourcing fosters creativity and can provide solutions that might not have been generated internally. Platforms like InnoCentive and Kaggle allow organizations to post challenges and source solutions from a global network of innovators. Companies may also use social media platforms to gather input from customers and the public.

It is the proactive search for external technologies, ideas, or solutions that align with an organization’s strategic goals. This often involves monitoring emerging trends and identifying potential collaborators. It allows organizations to stay at the forefront of technological advancements without solely relying on internal R&D. It can lead to partnerships, acquisitions, or licensing agreements that enhance innovation capabilities. Companies may assign teams or use specialized tools to monitor research publications, attend conferences, or engage with startups to identify promising technologies. This process is often part of a broader open innovation strategy.

Open source software involves the collaborative development of software where the source code is made freely available, and contributions can come from a global community of developers. The open-source model fosters transparency, rapid development, and innovation. It allows for a distributed development process, often resulting in robust and widely adopted solutions. Linux, Apache HTTP Server, and the Python programming language are prominent examples of successful open-source projects. Many companies also contribute to open-source projects and use open-source software in their products.

Innovation challenges invite individuals or teams, often from diverse backgrounds, to solve specific problems or achieve predefined goals. These challenges are structured as competitions or contests. Organizations can access a broad range of solutions and identify novel approaches to challenges. It engages the public, fostering a sense of community and innovation. The XPRIZE Foundation hosts various innovation challenges, such as the Ansari XPRIZE for private spaceflight. Companies like NASA and Google have also organized challenges to crowdsource solutions for specific problems.
It involves establishing a dedicated department within the organization to conduct research and create innovative solutions. This department typically consists of scientists, engineers, and other experts working exclusively on projects to advance the company’s technological capabilities. Direct control over the research process, fostering a deep understanding of the organization’s needs. Tight integration with other departments ensures that R&D efforts align with broader business goals.

Patent protection involves securing exclusive rights to innovations by filing for patents. This legal mechanism prevents competitors from using, making, selling, or importing the patented invention for a specified period. Provides a competitive advantage by establishing a legal barrier around the innovation. Offers the potential for licensing the technology to other companies, generating additional revenue.

This refers to the internal management of the entire innovation process, from generating ideas to bringing a product to market. Internal teams handle every stage, maintaining confidentiality throughout. It Ensures full control over the development process, minimizing the risk of intellectual property leakage. Facilitates rapid decision-making and adaptability to changes in project requirements.

Proprietary systems involve keeping key technologies, processes, or information confidential. This closed approach safeguards critical aspects of the organization’s operations from being accessed or replicated by external entities. Safeguard core competencies, offering a competitive edge. Protects against imitation and helps maintain a unique value proposition in the market.

Continuous Innovation vs Discontinuous Innovation Examples

involves ongoing, incremental improvements to existing products, processes, or services. It is characterized by a steady and iterative approach to enhancement, building upon the organization’s existing knowledge base. represents radical and transformative changes that introduce entirely new products, processes, or services. It often disrupts established norms and requires a paradigm shift in thinking.
Regular enhancements to application features, security, and usability. 

Successive versions of smartphones with incremental improvements in camera quality, processing speed, etc. 

Continuous refinement of manufacturing processes to improve efficiency and reduce costs. 

4 Adding new features or functionalities to online platforms based on user feedback and market trends.
1. : The shift from traditional mobile phones to smartphones with touchscreens, app ecosystems, and advanced functionalities. 

2. Introduction of electric vehicles disrupting the automotive industry’s reliance on internal combustion engines. 

3. Transformative technology enabling the creation of complex structures and personalized products through additive manufacturing. 
: Revolutionizing finance with decentralized and secure systems for transactions and data, challenging traditional banking structures.

4 Types of Innovation Examples

Types of Innovation - Innovation Types

(1) Disruptive Innovation Examples

Disruptive innovation is the concept that the introduction of a product or service into an established industry when it outperforms or offers a more cost-effective solution than existing offerings has the potential to replace market leaders and fundamentally reshape the industry.

1) General Electric (GE) Disruptive Innovation 

General Electric (GE), founded in 1892, stands as a disruptive innovation company that has transformed various industries. Pioneering advancements such as the first Radio Corporation, electric motor technology, and lighting fixtures, GE’s innovations have reshaped communication, illumination, and travel. Renowned scientists like Thomas Edison and Michael Faraday played a crucial role in GE’s success, contributing to the electrified and modern world we know today.

  • First Radio Corporation: GE played a pivotal role in the development of the first radio corporation, revolutionizing communication.
  • Electric Motor Technology: GE’s advancements in electric motor technology had a profound impact on various applications, from industrial machinery to household appliances.
  • Lighting Fixtures: GE’s innovations in lighting fixtures contributed to the widespread adoption of electric lighting, fundamentally changing the way we illuminate our world.
  • Scientists like Thomas Edison and Michael Faraday were instrumental in GE’s success, contributing to the electrification of the modern world. GE’s innovations continue to shape modern society, laying the foundation for advancements in technology and infrastructure.

1- Blockbuster vs. Netflix:

Netflix vx. BLOCKBUSTERS Disruption

  • Convenience and Accessibility:

Netflix’s subscription-based model offered customers the convenience of renting and watching movies from the comfort of their homes without the need to visit a physical store. Although Blockbuster had its charm, the convenience of having DVDs delivered to your doorstep by Netflix disrupted the traditional “go to the store” approach.

And Netflix’s introduction of streaming further increased accessibility, allowing users to instantly watch content on various devices. Meanwhile, Blockbuster clung to the familiar routine of browsing physical aisles. The shift from brick-and-mortar to on-demand streaming was a blockbuster move by Netflix.

  • Personalization:  Netflix utilized algorithms to analyze user preferences and provide personalized recommendations, enhancing the overall user experience. This level of personalization was a stark contrast to the more generic recommendations found in traditional video rental stores like Blockbuster. Netflix wasn’t just about movies; it was about a personalized blockbuster of entertainment tailored for you.
  • Original Content Production:  Netflix’s shift into original content production, with series like “House of Cards” and “Stranger Things,” distinguished it from traditional video rental services. While Blockbuster relied on stocking the latest blockbusters, Netflix created its blockbuster content. This strategic move not only attracted new subscribers but also showcased Netflix’s commitment to being a blockbuster creator, not just a distributor.

3) Cryptocurrency Disruptive Innovation 

Cryptocurrency, utilizing decentralized blockchain technology, has disrupted the financial industry by offering faster transactions, lower fees, and enhanced security. This challenges traditional financial systems, enabling peer-to-peer transactions and empowering individuals to have greater control over their finances. Bitcoin, a prominent cryptocurrency, stands out for providing an alternative to traditional banking control, reshaping the dynamics of finance and the broader economy.

Despite the transformative potential, challenges like regulatory considerations and market volatility must be addressed for cryptocurrencies to fully realize their impact on the financial landscape.

(2) Radical Innovation Examples

Radical innovation is an invention that dismantles or replaces an established business model. Unlike architectural, incremental, or disruptive innovations, radical innovation entails a complete overhaul of existing systems and processes, replacing them with entirely new structures.

1) Electric and Autonomous Vehicles Radical Innovation (e.g., Tesla):

  • The development of electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous driving technology signifies a revolutionary shift in the automotive industry. Electric vehicles leverage electric power, reducing environmental impact and dependence on traditional fuel sources. Simultaneously, autonomous driving technology aims to enable vehicles to operate without direct human control, utilizing advanced sensors and artificial intelligence for navigation.
  • Pioneering companies like Tesla have been instrumental in driving the widespread adoption of EVs. By combining cutting-edge electric vehicle technology with advancements in autonomous driving capabilities, Tesla challenges conventional transportation models. The impact extends beyond individual ownership, influencing discussions on shared mobility, urban planning, and the future of transportation. Tesla’s innovative approach has prompted other automakers to invest heavily in electric and autonomous technologies, shaping the industry’s trajectory toward a sustainable and autonomous future.

2) Robot-Assisted Surgery Radical Innovation (e.g., da Vinci Surgical System):

  • Robot-assisted surgical systems, exemplified by the da Vinci Surgical System, utilize robotic technology to aid surgeons in performing minimally invasive procedures with heightened precision. These systems typically consist of robotic arms controlled by a console, offering surgeons a greater range of motion and enhanced visualization during surgeries.
  • The innovation of robot-assisted surgery has transformed the landscape of medical procedures. By allowing for smaller incisions, reduced scarring, and improved surgical precision, these systems enhance patient outcomes and accelerate recovery times. The da Vinci Surgical System, in particular, has been employed in various surgical specialities, including urology, gynaecology, and cardiovascular surgery, demonstrating the versatility and positive impact of robotic assistance in the medical field.

3) CRISPR-Cas9 Radical Innovation :

  • CRISPR-Cas9 technology, a continually evolving gene-editing tool, showcases ongoing advancements in precision and diverse applications. This revolutionary technology allows scientists to modify DNA sequences with unparalleled accuracy, offering promising avenues for treating genetic disorders, creating genetically modified organisms, and addressing agricultural challenges.
  • Ongoing developments in CRISPR technology underscore its versatility and potential across various fields. In medicine, CRISPR holds promise for personalized therapies and treatments for genetic diseases. In agriculture, it enables the development of crops with desirable traits, contributing to food security. While the technology presents ethical considerations, its ongoing evolution continues to shape genetic research, therapeutic interventions, and the broader landscape of biotechnology.

(3) Incremental Innovation Examples

Incremental innovation involves making a series of small enhancements or upgrades to a company’s existing products, services, processes, or methods. The modifications introduced through incremental innovation typically concentrate on improving the development efficiency, productivity, and competitive differentiation of an existing product.

1) Smartphone Incremental Innovation:

The smartphone industry, known for its dynamic pace, consistently introduces incremental innovations through successive model releases. Each iteration serves as a stepping stone for technological advancement, ushering in improvements in crucial features such as camera quality, processing speed, and battery life. These enhancements not only meet the evolving demands of users but also contribute to the overall refinement of the user experience. From enhanced photography capability to faster processors and extended battery longevity, each iteration represents a strategic response to market trends and user expectations.

2) Software Applications Incremental Innovation:

Companies regularly engage in the practice of releasing incremental updates. These updates are pivotal in maintaining the integrity and functionality of the software by addressing bugs, refining performance, and introducing new features. The iterative nature of these improvements ensures that the software evolves to meet changing user needs and technological standards. Through ongoing updates, companies not only rectify issues but also optimize the user experience, fostering a dynamic and responsive relationship between the software and its users.

3) Automotive Incremental Innovation:

The automotive industry demonstrates a commitment to safety through the continual integration of incremental innovations in safety features. Technologies such as lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and collision detection systems are systematically refined and seamlessly integrated into newer car models. This incremental approach allows manufacturers to enhance vehicle safety without compromising overall design or functionality. As these safety features evolve, they contribute to the industry’s collective goal of creating vehicles that provide not only efficient transportation but also prioritize the well-being of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

(4) Architectural Innovation Examples

Architectural innovation takes place when novel products or services leverage existing technology to establish new markets or attract consumers who had not previously considered purchasing that particular item.

1) Valve Corporation Architectural Innovation:

  • Employee Autonomy: Valve’s flat structure empowers employees to choose projects based on their interests and expertise. This autonomy fosters a sense of ownership and accountability, encouraging innovation and creative problem-solving.
  • Elimination of Traditional Hierarchy : Valve does not have traditional managers or hierarchies. This absence of bureaucracy promotes a more fluid and agile decision-making process, enabling the company to respond quickly to market opportunities.
  • Fluid Project Teams: Employees at Valve can move freely between projects, forming dynamic and fluid teams. This promotes knowledge sharing, diverse skill development, and the ability to tackle projects with a fresh perspective.

2) DevOps Architectural Innovation:

  • Integration of Development and Operations : DevOps breaks down silos between development and operations teams, fostering collaboration throughout the software development life cycle. This integration aims to improve communication, efficiency, and the overall quality of software releases.
  • Automation : DevOps emphasizes the automation of manual processes, including code deployment, testing, and infrastructure management. Automation reduces the risk of errors, accelerates release cycles, and enhances overall system reliability.
  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): DevOps practices promote a continuous integration and continuous delivery pipeline, allowing for the rapid and reliable release of software updates. This approach minimizes downtime and ensures a smoother user experience.

3) HubSpot’s Architectural Innovation:

  • Content-Centric Approach : HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing methodology revolves around creating valuable content to attract, engage, and delight customers. This content-centric approach positions HubSpot as a thought leader in the industry and builds trust with its audience.
  • Digital Channels and Analytics : Inbound marketing leverages digital channels such as blogs, social media, and email, combined with analytics tools to track user behaviour. This data-driven approach allows for targeted and personalized marketing strategies based on customer insights.
  • Customer-Centric Strategy : The methodology places a strong emphasis on understanding and addressing the needs of the customer. By creating content that aligns with customer interests and challenges, HubSpot builds a customer-centric marketing strategy.


Innovation, in its myriad forms, stands as the driving force behind the ever-evolving landscape of progress. The examples woven throughout this exploration unveil a rich tapestry of creativity, showcasing the profound impact of human ingenuity across diverse domains. From the transformative leaps of disruptive innovations by companies like Tesla and Walmart to the nuanced, iterative advancements seen in the smartphone and software industries, the spectrum of innovation is vast. Beyond technological marvels, the realm of organizational innovation paints a picture of companies like Morning Star and W.L. Gore, exemplifying how flexible structures and collaborative environments can redefine efficiency.

The dichotomy of open and closed innovation strategies emphasizes the strategic choices organizations make to propel themselves forward. As we delve into the dynamic interplay of continuous and discontinuous innovation, we recognize the need for both steady progression and paradigm-shifting leaps in our journey forward. The innovation journey, marked by resilience, adaptability, and creativity, remains an ever-unfolding narrative, with the promise of groundbreaking discoveries and societal transformations on the horizon.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1- what are some innovative ideas.

Innovation is the driving force behind progress, addressing societal needs and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Here’s a closer look at the innovative ideas highlighted:

  • Elderly Care Robotics: The idea centres around leveraging robotics to revolutionize elderly care. These robotic companions not only assist with daily tasks but also serve as health monitors and sources of companionship. In an ageing population, this innovation tackles the challenges of elderly care, enhancing the well-being of seniors while easing the burden on caregivers.
  • Sustainable Packaging Alternatives: The focus is on creating eco-friendly packaging solutions, replacing traditional plastics in the food and retail industries with biodegradable or reusable materials. Addressing environmental concerns, this idea responds to the urgent need for sustainable practices in consumer packaging, contributing to a greener future.
  • Virtual Health Assistants : This idea involves implementing AI-driven virtual assistants dedicated to healthcare, offering personalized advice, and medication reminders, and facilitating connections with healthcare professionals. Bridging gaps in healthcare accessibility, this innovation promotes proactive health management and empowers individuals to take charge of their well-being.
  • Blockchain for Supply Chain Transparency : The concept revolves around using blockchain to establish transparent and traceable supply chains, ensuring authenticity and ethical sourcing of products. Combating counterfeiting and promoting fair trade practices, this innovation responds to consumer demands for transparent and ethically produced goods.
  • Community-Based Renewable Energy: This innovative idea centres on empowering communities through shared ownership of renewable energy projects, fostering local sustainability with solar or wind farms. Addressing energy challenges, this approach not only contributes to environmental conservation but also economically empowers communities.

2- How does organizational innovation impact efficiency?

Organizational innovation, particularly through practices like decentralized decision-making, flexibility, and mutual accountability, plays a pivotal role in enhancing efficiency within a company. Here’s a closer look at the impact and significance of these elements:

  • Decentralized Decision-Making : By decentralizing decision-making, organizations empower employees to take ownership of their work. This not only expedites decision processes but also taps into the collective expertise of individuals throughout the organization. Streamlining decision-making enhances overall agility. In a rapidly changing business landscape, the ability to make informed decisions quickly is a key component of staying competitive.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability : The absence of rigid hierarchies allows for a culture of flexibility and adaptability. In this environment, roles and responsibilities can be quickly adjusted to align with changing priorities or market dynamics. In a business landscape characterized by uncertainty and evolving consumer demands, a flexible organizational structure is crucial. It enables companies to respond swiftly to market shifts and stay ahead of the competition.
  • Mutual Accountability: The promotion of mutual accountability ensures that colleagues collaboratively define expectations for each other. This shared understanding of roles and responsibilities enhances communication and accountability at all levels of the organization. Accountability is the bedrock of a high-performing organization. When every team member is accountable not only to their immediate superiors but also to their colleagues, it fosters a collaborative culture that propels efficiency.
  • Dynamic Work Environment: Collectively, decentralized decision-making, flexibility, and mutual accountability contribute to the creation of a dynamic work environment. Teams can adapt quickly to changing circumstances and seize opportunities. A dynamic work environment is not just a response to change but a proactive stance toward innovation. It encourages experimentation, continuous improvement, and the ability to navigate complexity.

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15 Innovative Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs

Jul 12, 2017

15 Innovative Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs

Are you a bright entrepreneur looking for innovative business ideas?

Then you’re in the right place.

We’re sharing 15 ideas which have the potential to turn into super successful, profitable companies.

This isn’t just a list of random business ideas. All of these suggestions are based on current market trends that haven’t been overdone.

By getting in on one of these innovative ideas now, you’ll be on your way to success before the market gets saturated. There’s something for everyone here, with business ideas which can scale up or down as needed.

Whether you want to sell products online, operate a food truck, have your own store, or start a mail-order business, there’s an idea below to suit you.

In Canada, 86% of small businesses survive past 2 years , which is great news for entrepreneurs. With an innovative concept, your business will be even more likely to succeed.

Ready to start planning your new business?

1. Subscription Boxes

If you haven’t heard of subscription boxes in your quest for innovative business ideas, you must have been living in a cave.

The basic concept is simple: a customer subscribes to your service, then you put together a box of items and ship it out to them – usually monthly.

Subscription boxes are based on themes like gaming, stationery, or sweets, and the exact contents of each box is a surprise.

It’s a fun concept, and you can see why it’s become so popular.

Subscription boxes are great for new entrepreneurs because there are so many potential niches that aren’t yet covered. Look for gaps in the market, then apply the tried and tested subscription box business model.

2. Meal Delivery Services

Meal delivery services are on the up, with people working longer hours and caring more about their health.

These ready meals offer a ton of opportunities for clever entrepreneurs who can figure out how to make theirs stand out from the crowd.

Here are some ideas for your unique selling point:

  • Gluten-free
  • Locally grown
  • High protein
  • Dietician-approved

These services usually operate on a subscription basis – innovative business ideas can provide a steady income.

3. Virtual Reality Accessories

VR. It’s the most futuristic gaming tech currently out there, and now is the perfect time to get into the VR accessories market.

As the early consumer VR products hit stores, the market for VR accessories will continue to grow.

Get in there now to ensure your success.

Don’t think you need to be super-techy to come up with good accessory ideas – you could design custom covers for VR headsets, cool VR storage docks, or themed VR headset stickers.

4. Online Education

EdTech is an area that’s seen massive growth over the last few years – just look at the success of language-learning apps and online courses.

Finding an in-demand area that’s not yet served by EdTech is a surefire way to make some cash and help educate people around the world.

5. Healthy Pet Food

We bet you didn’t think of pet food when coming up with innovative business ideas.

Pet food is a huge industry: we have a lot of pets, and they all need to eat. But how do you break in when there are already a number of giant pet food manufacturers out there?

The trends of human food are often echoed in the pet food world, so jumping on trends to create kibble that’s ‘healthy’, ‘raw’, ‘artisan’ or ‘paleo’ is a smart move.

Market yourself towards a very specific type of pet owner – avoid going too general.

6. Ethical Makeup

People are becoming more and more conscious of the ethics behind their favourite makeup brands, with some companies being boycotted for their animal testing policies.

Creating high-quality makeup with an ethical assurance is a sure way to business success.

People don’t only care about ethics when it comes to food, and it’s wise to get in before the big cosmetics brands make it harder for new businesses to gain ground on this front.

7. Hygge Home Furnishings

If you’re active on Pinterest, you’ll have heard all about hygge , the Danish quality of coziness and well-being.

Making a business out of this trending topic is a smart move, as you’ll be able to take advantage of the regular searches for the word ‘hygge’ online before search results become overcrowded.

You might sell candles, blankets, bubble bath, beds, sofas, hammocks… anything that makes people feel warm, safe and cozy.

8. Nostalgic Restaurants

Nostalgia for the past is big right now – how many 90s memes and jokes do you see daily on the internet?

Tapping into this love of all things retro is a great way create a profitable, unique restaurant. Pick an era, decade or theme, then design your menu, decor, and music to fit accordingly.

You could try a 90s gaming theme with retro consoles for diners to play, theme music, and pixelated wall art.

Get creative and look to social media for ideas.

Nostalgia is fertile ground when it comes to looking for innovative business ideas.

9. Fitness Technology

These innovative business ideas combine two of the biggest trends around right now: fitness and technology.

The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to fitness tech, and you might feel overwhelmed by the possibilities.

There are ways to combine all sorts of existing technologies and fitness techniques, so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.

You could create a mobile app that teaches yoga, alter a smart watch to help users train for specific sporting events, or design the latest piece of wearable fitness tech.

Even making a small change to existing products can help you come up with a really unique idea. What about fitness watches for kids? Or an exercise app for the disabled?

If it solves a fitness problem for a specific group of people, it will do well.

10. Gluten-Free Cake

Everybody loves cake.

Unfortunately, a gluten intolerance can prevent some people from enjoying the same sweet treats as the rest of us.

This is where you come in.

A bakery which specialized in gluten-free cakes appeals to a very specific market.

Emphasizing your understanding of allergies will make customers more likely to choose you versus regular bakeries with one or two gluten-free options.

The gluten-free market is growing fast in Canada , so now’s a good time to get involved.

11. Vegan Meat And Dairy Alternatives

On the topic of special dietary requirements, have you noticed the surge in veganism lately?

This is a unique market with lots of potential for imitation products.

The offerings currently available are pretty hit and miss, with many vegan cheese and meat alternatives meeting with mixed opinion.

If you can develop alternatives that taste great and work well in cooking, you’ll be on to a winner. Think vegan cheese that melts properly, vegan burgers with a juicy bite, or vegan milk that doesn’t curdle in coffee.

12. Dementia-Friendly Products

People keep getting older, and that comes with all sorts of problems, dementia being one of the most common. By developing products to help dementia sufferers and their families, you’ll be making money and helping people.

You could choose to focus on memory aids, dementia-friendly technology, simple games and activities, or devices to improve safety around the home.

Some popular products that already exist in this market include ‘one button’ music players, clocks which display whether or not it’s morning or afternoon, and simple radios.

Many other items could be made dementia-friendly with a little effort, so there’s lots of potential here.

13. Healthy, Artisan Food Trucks

When you think ‘food truck’, what comes to mind?

Greasy burgers, fries, and kebabs? No innovative business ideas?

Well, that used to be the case, but there’s a new trend towards healthy, artisan food trucks providing high-quality food and drink.

As mentioned above, you’ll need to make yourself stand out by tapping into a niche market, like vegan, gluten-free or paleo. Providing healthy alternatives to popular foods is another winning strategy.

Healthy, vegan, gluten-free ice cream sundae, anyone?

Food trucks are really versatile, and as the business grows you can purchase new trucks and hire staff to scale easily.

14. No-Waste Toiletries

The no-waste revolution is growing in size, and people are looking for long-lasting versions of items we currently think of as disposable.

Popular no-waste products introduced already have included menstrual cups, cloth diapers, toothbrushes, and hairbrushes.

By finding new disposable items that can be turned into long-lasting products, you’ll be in with a great chance of cracking this market.

You should also focus on making production as eco-friendly and ethical as possible, as low-waste consumers typically find these qualities important.

15. Male Hair Salon

Gone are the days of men popping into the barber shop for a standard cut and shave – which opens the door to plenty of innovative business ideas.

Male grooming and fashion have come a long way, and most salons are yet to catch up. Be a trendsetter by creating a male hair salon that caters to the most style-conscious guys out there.

There’s lots of extra opportunity for profit here, selling male hair products or expanding your services to include skin care and more.

How To Get Started With Your Innovative Business Ideas

You’re inspired, and you’ve come up with some great innovative business ideas.

Now’s the time to decide on a name for your business, and get registered.

Use our  Free NUANS Preliminary Search to check whether or not your proposed name is available today, and you’ll have taken an important first step in your new venture.

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business plan about innovative

34 Examples of Innovative Products, Sorted By Industry

You can find examples of innovative products in every sector of the retail world—from health and wellness to transportation.

Array of falling for innovative products with labels on a light purple background.

We live in a world where a small device can filter fresh air right in your own home, and a battery-powered machine can clean the floor of your house without you intervening. The technological landscape is always evolving, with innovative products emerging at incredible speeds. Companies large and small constantly create devices, services, and tools that make life easier, healthier, and more fun.

Product innovation has the power to revolutionize industries, create new jobs, and even explore the far reaches of space. Here are some notable examples to inspire your next brainstorming session.

Examples of innovative products

Health and wellness, environment and sustainability, technology and gadgets, consumer goods, education and entertainment, transportation.

You can find examples of innovative products in just about every sector of the retail world. Some are available in retail stores, some are available online , and some are available only to enterprise customers. Here are examples of innovative products, organized by industry:

Amazing innovations in the health and wellness sector have improved the quality of life for people around the world. Examples include:

  • Portable water purifiers. Portable water purifiers like LifeStraw allow you to safely drink from contaminated water sources, making them great for emergencies and outdoor activities.
  • Smart inhalers. Inhalers like Propeller Health track usage and provide data to manage respiratory conditions more effectively.
  • Sleep trackers. SleepScore Max and other sleep trackers monitor and analyze sleep patterns to improve sleep quality.
  • Telemedicine kits. Portable kits like digiMed are equipped with diagnostic tools for remote medical consultations.

Breakthroughs in environmental technology have allowed the mass production of equipment and structures that minimize the use of fossil fuels, save water, and cut down on landfill waste. There are some awesome examples, such as:

  • Biodegradable packaging. Biodegradable packaging materials decompose naturally, reducing plastic waste.
  • Home biogas systems. Home biogas systems like HomeBiogas convert organic waste into cooking gas and liquid fertilizer, temporarily trapping carbon in the process.
  • Vertical farming systems. AeroFarms and other vertical farming systems use vertical space and controlled environments to grow food in urban areas, reducing land use and water consumption.
  • Solar roof tiles. Tiles like Tesla’s Solar Roof look like traditional roofing materials but function as solar panels, integrating carbon-free power into the structure of a house or commercial building.

Thanks to engineering feats people once thought were impossible, the technology sector has developed all sorts of equipment to provide convenience to customers. Here are some cool examples:

  • AI-powered personal assistants. Apps like Google Assistant and Siri use artificial intelligence to perform tasks, answer questions, and manage schedules.
  • Smartphones. Before their introduction, the idea of having a powerful computer and phone in a single device seemed impossible, but now billions of people use smartphones like the iPhone and the Google Pixel.
  • Foldable smartphones. Foldable smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold combine the portability of a smartphone with the screen size of a tablet.
  • Wearable health monitors. Wearable monitors like the Oura Ring offer insights into your fitness, stress, and overall health—even tracking your sleep patterns all night long.
  • Smart home hubs. Amazon Echo and Google Nest Hub are two examples of centralized devices that control various smart home gadgets and systems through voice commands.
  • Intelligent thermostats. Able to adjust your home’s temperature based on your behavior and preferences, devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat optimize energy use and keep the indoor climate within a prescribed range.
  • Smart locks. Smart locks like the August Smart Lock allow keyless entry and remote access control for improved home security.
  • Smart plugs. Smart plugs such as the TP-Link Kasa allow you to control electrical outlets remotely, so you can turn a light or fan on or off via a smartphone app without a costly installation process.
  • Smart glasses. Gadgets like Apple’s AR Glasses integrate augmented reality into eyewear for hands-free interaction with digital information.
  • Wireless charging surfaces. Your devices can charge without cables when you place them on designed magnetic surfaces like the WiTricity.
  • Voice-activated wearable translators. Providing real-time translations of spoken languages, devices like the Pocketalk break down communication barriers.

A business doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to be innovative. You can create an innovative product by improving on a consumer good that has long been on the market, like these successful examples:

  • Self-cleaning water bottles. The LARQ and other self-cleaning bottles use UV-C LED light to purify water and self-clean.
  • Smart luggage. Featuring built-in GPS, charging ports, and weight sensors, smart luggage brands epitomize modern travel convenience.
  • Reusable notebooks. Allowing users to write, scan, and erase notes, reusable notebooks like the Rocketbook combine the tactile feel of writing with the convenience of digital storage.
  • Powered standing desks. Users can mechanically raise and lower adjustable desks like those from Uline and Uplift to work from either a seated or standing position.
  • Smart mirrors. Smart mirrors like CareOS mirrors integrate digital displays for fitness tracking, virtual try-ons, and personalized health information.

Innovation and creativity flourish in the educational space. Many ed-tech companies use innovations to help students realize their potential. Whether you’re a child or an adult, there’s an innovative course or service out there to help you learn, including:

  • Educational robots. Brands like Sphero teach coding and robotics to children in an engaging, hands-on manner.
  • VR headsets. VR headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 provide virtual reality experiences for gaming and education using highly immersive display elements, so you can learn without ever leaving your room.
  • Smart musical instruments. Combining multiple instruments in one, smart instruments like the Artiphon Instrument 1 enable users to play various sounds with a single device.

Technological advances have brought enhanced safety, performance, and convenience to the transportation industry. Innovation has also transformed how we power vehicles, with batteries often replacing liquid fuels. This has many observers excited for a carbon-free transportation future. Here are some transportation innovations:

  • Electric vehicles. Cars like the Chevrolet Bolt reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lower emissions.
  • Electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL). These personal and commercial aircraft take off and land vertically, revolutionizing urban air mobility.
  • Solid-state batteries. A nascent technology that would let large car batteries charge at a faster speed, these hold up longer over repeated charges.

In nearly every industry, you can find a company looking for ways to address consumer pain points, introduce users to new technologies, and save people money. Some other innovations making their way to market are:

  • 3D-printed houses. Using 3D printing technology to construct houses reduces waste and costs.
  • Portable power stations. Portable power stations like the Goal Zero Yeti provide a reliable power source for off-grid adventures or emergencies.
  • Lab-grown meat. Producers create this meat in a lab setting without the need for animal slaughter.
  • Advanced robotics. With improved dexterity and AI capabilities, robots can perform complex tasks and interact with the environment more naturally.

Innovative products FAQ

What is an example of an innovative product.

A smart mirror, which combines a traditional mirror with digital displays, is an example of an innovative product. It comes in handy for trying on clothes, tracking your fitness goals, and monitoring your overall health.

How do you come up with an innovative product idea?

When brainstorming innovative product ideas, imagine something that the market needs but that doesn’t yet exist. Focus on problems you’d like to solve in your everyday life first and worry about feasibility and scalability later.

Are innovative products risky?

Launching any new product is risky, whether it’s innovative or not. To minimize risk, conduct a market evaluation to confirm that your new product would have a viable customer base. You can cultivate your own market, as Mimi Ikonn did for her Luxy Hair brand when she embarked on a YouTube marketing strategy . “Whenever I made the videos, it was very much an organic sell,” Mimi explains. A robust target market is a sign that your innovative product may succeed.

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8 million student-loan borrowers on Biden's new repayment plan don't have to make payments after a federal court blocked the program in full

  • The 8th Circuit blocked the SAVE student-loan repayment plan in full.
  • Student-loan borrowers on SAVE won't have to make payments as the legal process continues.
  • This will likely spark confusion for borrowers who already received bills with lower payments. 

Insider Today

Another student-loan payment pause is here for millions of borrowers.

On Thursday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the SAVE student-loan repayment plan in full , meaning that key provisions of the plan, like lower monthly payments and a shorter timeline to debt cancellation, cannot be implemented.

It's the latest in the legal rollercoaster for borrowers — earlier this year, two separate groups of GOP state attorneys general filed lawsuits to block SAVE , and at the end of June, two federal courts blocked parts of the plan . The 10th Circuit allowed parts of the plan to move forward just days later, but the 8th Circuit's ruling once again halted the plan in its entirety.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement Thursday night that all borrowers enrolled in SAVE "will be placed in an interest-free forbearance while our Administration continues to vigorously defend the SAVE Plan in court."

"The Department will be providing regular updates to borrowers affected by these rulings in the coming days," Cardona said.

The Education Department confirmed on Friday that this forbearance period will not count toward borrowers' forgiveness progress on Public Service Loan Forgiveness or income-driven repayment plans.

The department also stated that "borrowers enrolled in the SAVE Plan who have received a bill for August are being put in an interest-free forbearance – payments are not required during forbearance. Borrowers enrolled in the SAVE Plan who have not yet received a bill for August will also be put in forbearance and therefore will not receive a bill."

The 8th Circuit's ruling responded to a lawsuit led by Missouri's attorney general. The other lawsuit to block SAVE, led by Kansas, now sits with the Supreme Court, and Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in a briefing to SCOTUS that blocking the plan would lead to "intense confusion" for borrowers. The Education Department said 8 million borrowers are enrolled in the SAVE plan, including 4.5 million whose incomes qualify them for zero-dollar monthly payments.

The Education Department already directed servicers to proceed with processing borrowers' lower payments. Should the court issue a final ruling that SAVE cannot be implemented, the department will once again have to recalculate borrowers' payments, likely leading some of them to reconfigure their budgets.

Some Republican lawmakers lauded the ruling. Sen. Bill Cassidy, the top Republican on the Senate education committee, said in a statement that the ruling "is another rebuke to President Biden's illegal student loan schemes."

Related stories

"This is an abuse of power before an election in an attempt to buy votes at the expense of American taxpayers," Cassidy said.

Still, Biden's administration has vowed to continue working to provide relief to borrowers. Along with SAVE, the Education Department plans to finalize its broader student-loan forgiveness plan in October, which is expected to benefit over 30 million borrowers .

"Today's ruling from the 8th Circuit blocking President Biden's SAVE plan could have devastating consequences for millions of student loan borrowers crushed by unaffordable monthly payments if it remains in effect," Cardona said. "It's shameful that politically motivated lawsuits waged by Republican elected officials are once again standing in the way of lower payments for millions of borrowers."

Are you enrolled in the SAVE plan? Do you have concerns about what this ruling will mean for you? Share your story with this reporter at [email protected] .

Watch: Why student loans aren't canceled, and what Biden's going to do about it

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More From Forbes

20 unconventional funding ideas for businesses.

Forbes Finance Council

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When conventional funding options like bank loans and venture capital aren't accessible or fall short, small businesses must explore innovative ways to keep their operations going. A little creativity and ingenuity can go a long way in helping you secure the funds you need.

That is why, 20 Forbes Finance Council members are here to share their top creative ideas for funding a business. From leveraging personal assets to garnering community support, these methods can provide the boost small businesses need for growth.

1. Private Debt Funds

Private debt funds are becoming more common sources for obtaining capital. Private funds will likely charge higher interest than banks because they are assuming greater risk in funding small to middle-market-sized companies. However, these funds may offer more flexibility and creativity in structuring these deals. - Ryan Loynd , BrightGuide Financial

2. Crowdfunding

Platforms like Kickstarter, GoFundMe and Patreon make it possible to raise funds from a multitude of supporters. These options are proving especially effective when you offer rewards in return for their participation, such as exclusive early access to products or unique experiences. - Jeorgia Brown , The Budgetnista

3. Use Idle Cash From Friends And Family

One way is to leverage the idle cash of family and friends in bank current accounts earning little or no interest. Selling your business ideas in a compelling way might attract their interest. You can easily afford to pay them returns above what they currently earn from the bank. Alternatively, the bank can lend you funds on the back of these idle current accounts as collateral. - Ayo Adepoju , Ecobank Transnational Incorporated

Best High-Yield Savings Accounts Of 2024

Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024, 4. look to your stakeholders.

Secure funding from your key customers, early adopters and suppliers. If your customers perceive lots of value from your product or service offering, structure long-term contracts with upfront payment terms, like many software companies. If awarding a large vendor contract, the vendor may be amenable to structuring deferred payment terms to support your working capital strategy. - David Samuels , DrFirst, Inc.

5. Democratize Investment Opportunities

When the JOBS Act gave way for businesses to raise money through crowdfunding, this offered a creative way to raise capital. Despite initial setup and startup costs, these methods open doors for a broader investor base to participate in your company’s growth. Crowdfunding democratizes investment opportunities, making it accessible for individuals to support and benefit from innovative ventures. - Chris Seveney , 7e investments

Forbes Finance Council is an invitation-only organization for executives in successful accounting, financial planning and wealth management firms. Do I qualify?

6. Seek Advance Payments From Customers

Tap into a community you know already supports your business: your customers. Those loyal customers who highly value your services may be willing to pay in advance for a discount on current services or receive free value-added services in exchange for upfront payment—offering a mutually beneficial way to satisfy your capital needs. - Eyal Lifshitz , Bluevine

7. Run Limited-Time Promotions

There are various ways to fund your business outside of traditional norms. You can always presale your service or product with a special limited-time offer or discount. This can give you an estimate of demand and raise funds. You can also design a unique, fund-exclusive experience to help raise funds. - Bob Chitrathorn , Wealth Planning By Bob Chitrathorn of Simplified Wealth Management

8. Pitch To Backers

It depends on the type of business and the stage of business (seed/growth) if it is a tech startup. In recent times, crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, StartEngine and so on. have become popular. By pitching the business to potential backers and supporters, one can obtain funding while also validating the business concept. This method also creates excitement and interest in the product/service. - Hemanth Golla , High Circle

9. Leverage Revenue-Based Financing

One innovative funding method is revenue-based financing: investors provide funds in exchange for a share of future sales. You pay them back a portion of your revenue until you've returned the agreed-upon amount without giving away ownership of your company or dealing with high-interest loans. It's a flexible option that ties the investor's payoff to how well your business does. - Nick Chandi , Forwardly

10. Bootstrap With Personal Savings

One non-traditional way to raise funds is through bootstrapping. This means using personal finances like a 401(k), savings accounts, emergency cash and more. The idea here is to not pull any money out of the business until the business is successful. All profits will be reinvested back into the business. You will need to be as cost-effective and frugal as possible while avoiding taking on personal debt. - Jody Grunden , Summit Virtual CFO by Anders

11. Offer Limited-Edition Products

Sell limited-edition goods and services. They can generate customer excitement and urgency. It might be a custom product line, a service bundle or a behind-the-scenes company experience. This method boosts revenue, brand visibility and consumer engagement. The limited edition's uniqueness and novelty can boost your business's media and word-of-mouth, resulting in increased sales. - Neil Anders , Trusted Rate, Inc.

12. Host Experiences Or Industry Events

Plan a number of seminars or themed events that are relevant to your industry. Charge attendees for admission and provide them with special benefits or experiences. Use the money raised from the events to finance the expansion of your company. - Gomathy Periathiruvadi , Alita Systems

13. Attract Social Impact Investors

Appealing to investors who are interested in generating social or environmental impact alongside financial returns can open new funding avenues. Social impact investing focuses on businesses that address societal challenges such as sustainability, healthcare and education. This approach aligns profit with purpose, attracting a growing segment of socially conscious investors. - Jeffrey Bartel , Hamptons Group, LLC

14. Engage Directly With Your Key Strategic Customers

Often, smaller businesses provide a mission-critical service to larger customers, and in turn, those larger customers could provide short-term funding to assist those smaller organizations as they go through different phases of growth. Tap into your existing networks, even if the terms and duration are more flexible in nature. - Omar Choucair , Trintech

15. Take A Merchant Cash Advance (MCA)

One revenue-based financing option, known as a merchant cash advance (MCA), is among the most accessible alternative lending solutions for owners who need to quickly improve cash flow. MCAs are not loans. Rather, a business acquires the entire amount of payment in exchange for a portion of its future sales. Repayment terms fluctuate based on sales: businesses never see more money going out than coming in. - Lawrence Pross , Nexi

16. Turn Customers Into Ambassadors

Give your first customer a great deal and recruit them to help grow your business. Structure the contract to make it financially advantageous for them to support your idea and grow the business. Adopt a referral bonus for them to get you other paying customers for your business, which will help your cash flow. - Dave Sackett , Persimmon Technologies Corporation

17. Utilize Self-Directed IRAs

Since our core business is self-directed IRAs, I would say that is a good strategy to consider when looking to raise money for your business. Using someone's retirement funds could be structured as a loan, as equity or even a convertible loan that can be converted to shares/equity later. - Jaime Raskulinecz , Next Generation Trust Company

18. Tap Into Your Personal Credit

To fund your startup, I'd go with leveraging your personal credit to obtain financing. There are credit cards that offer signup bonuses and 0% APR over 12 to 24 months. For any business owner, that's hard to beat. - Yaakov Goder , Capital Express

19. Ask Those Around You For Help

I have always advised small business owners or startups that family and friends should be their first port of call when seeking funding for their businesses. Due to your relationships, it is easier to reach and convince them about your idea than total strangers. - Richard Okon , St Nicholas Hospital, CEO AcquireEdge Partners LLC

20. Use A Subscription Model

By offering customized products or services on a subscription basis, you can generate recurring revenue from loyal customers. This model not only ensures a steady cash flow but also allows you to showcase new products and foster a deeper connection with your customer base. - Ash Shetty, CFA , PineBridge Investments

The information provided here is not investment, tax, or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

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Plans MUV slowly for South Hill gym

It turns out, opening a new gym takes some heavy lifting.

MUV Fitness announced in early 2023 that it would open a new South Hill facility at 510 E. 37th Ave. But more than a year later, members are still waiting.

“It’s been a while since I first heard about it opening,” Jennifer Estey said as she left the currently open MUV gym at 5501 S. Regal St.

“The last I heard, it was going to be opening sometime this fall,” Estey said, “but it didn’t seem real certain.”

Developers estimated it would cost about $4 million to renovate a former Albertsons grocery store on 37th Avenue and Grand Boulevard. The project included advanced equipment and space for basketball, a day care, cardio classes, recovery areas and a pool, according to city records.

But obtaining the proper permits has proved difficult.

“We are hoping to open” in early 2025 said Bailey Hewitt, a spokeswoman hired by MUV. “We appreciate everyone’s patience, and we look forward to opening the doors to the new facility soon.”

MUV officials entered a lease on the roughly 42,000-square-foot space in February 2023 after it closed its downtown location at the end of 2022.

The closure left the company with three locations – at 603 E. Holland Ave., 14927 E. Sprague Ave. in Spokane Valley and the Regal Street gym.

Those are part of MUV’s 13 locations nationwide, which are located in Washington, Oregon and South Carolina, according to its website.

Gym officials began preliminary talks with the city of Spokane about plans for a new South Hill location in March 2023, according to city records.

Then, beginning in June 2023, officials began submitting applications to build out the space, which required permits for remodel work. The company also had to change the use of the building from a grocery store to a gym and then construct a pool.

But the swimming pool has been problematic.

Permitting has delayed the remodeling and prompted MUV to seek four deadline extensions.

“We are working with the city and health department on permitting for building and the pool design,” Hewitt said.

The swimming facilities are projected to cost about $640,000. The plans include a hot tub, a cold plunge reservoir and a two-lane pool just shy of 25 meters. Amenities also include locker rooms and showers, according to city records.

MUV sought the pool permit in August 2023 but wasn’t approved by the Washington state Department of Health until last month, said John Doyle, spokesman for the state agency.

“The owner and their design team were able to address all outstanding issues prior to approval,” Doyle said in a statement.

He noted the approval for the pool permit did not take longer than what is typical.

Kelli Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Health District, said her organization will work with her state colleagues to perform inspections to ensure the pool areas meet code once they are completed.

Testing will include water quality and making sure walking surfaces around the pool are not too slippery, she said.

It remains unclear whether the current upper South Hill location on Regal will remain open when the 37th Avenue site gets completed.

Hewitt, the MUV spokeswoman, said she was not privy to such conversations.

With climate change, is hydropower still a renewable energy resource?

Recently, US News & World Report listed the states with the best energy infrastructure.


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    Innovation can help you stay ahead of the curve and grow your company in the process. Here are three reasons innovation is crucial for your business: It allows adaptability: The recent COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business on a monumental scale. Routine operations were rendered obsolete over the course of a few months.

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    Dishwasher: 133 watts Television: 1,200 to 2,400 watts Coffee Maker: 900 to 1,200 watts Washing Machine: 350 to 500 watts Toaster: 55 to 250 watts Window Fan: 800 to 1,400 watts. The majority of US households now spend roughly 35 percent of their energy consumption on appliances, electronics, and lighting.

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    6. Ethical Makeup. People are becoming more and more conscious of the ethics behind their favourite makeup brands, with some companies being boycotted for their animal testing policies. Creating high-quality makeup with an ethical assurance is a sure way to business success.

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