How To Achieve Business Growth Innovation Without A Budget
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How To Achieve Business Growth Innovation Without A Budget

If you’re a business leader who feels like the number one thing stopping you from getting those breakthrough results is not having any budget. Then you’ll love what I’m going to share today.

It will help you go from feeling under-resourced and unloved to feeling like your money is the least of your problems.

In this session, you’re going to learn 2 simple yet powerful ways I help my clients get over the ‘no budget’ hurdle and into the business growth red carpet.

And you’ll also learn how to turn budget constraints into growth opportunities by sparking great ideas.

Let’s get stuck into how these two no-budget approaches can accelerate your business growth.

No Budget Method 1.
Use constraints as an advantage

The old adage - ‘give them an inch, and they will take a mile’ has a similar effect regarding money spent in an organisation. ‘Give them a penny, and they’ll spend a fortune’.

Now I love working with big budgets. But often, having too much money leads to silly wasted initiatives that cost the organisation profits and can sometimes cost you your job.

People will tell you that you should have a budget to innovate for business growth.

A more important thing to budget for is having the head space to create business growth ideas at minimal risk.

One of the best constraints you can use is time. You have X mins to come up with Y solutions to this problem. Your time starts now.

When faced with no escape route (a way to avoid doing it), we somehow bypass the excuses and limiting beliefs and create what we need. However, what it takes to make it happen is being firm with the constraint.

If you’re flexible, the exercise loses its effectiveness, and we start to veer off course into distraction and procrastination.

There are many ways you can use time as a constraint for pretty much any innovation activity.

The key is to set a time limit for each activity and keep to it. If you say to your team you’re going to do a 5minute activity, but it takes 15minutes, then, you’re losing trust and the willingness for the team to repeat the exercise in the future.

Build your business idea muscle
Being able to generate ideas on demand is one of the surefire ways that you will create business growth strategies and solutions.

Research shows (and there’s lots of it) that one of the critical components in measuring creativity is based on one’s ability to generate alternatives. The higher your ability to create options, the easier it is to develop innovative solutions. Another closely related component is improvisation.

The best way we can build this creative business ideation growth skill is by practising generating lots of ideas in a short amount of time.
The subject can change each time, but the core components of having a specific topic, time limit and goal are essential.

Here are some example topics you could start with:
  • Ideas (if you prefer the word solution, use that instead) to get more referrals
  • Ideas to improve customer spend
  • Ideas to increase employee engagement
  • Ideas to solve our customer’s biggest pain point of [insert pain point]

Now that you have a topic chosen, you need to set a goal for the number of ideas for each person to generate:

10 ideas in 2 minutes or 20 ideas in 3 minutes. NB: The 20 ideas activity is the one that consistently gets the best results.

Here’s a bonus counterintuitive trick.

If your team (or yourself) are finding it tough to generate 10 ideas in 3 minutes, then go for the 20 ideas in 5minutes activity.

When we have to create more ideas, we go past the self-criticism, self-doubt and paralysing procrastination and just get the ideas out of the head.

It’s important to note that there should be no criticising of the ideas during this session. Save the idea sorting and assessment for a stand-up meeting later in the day or, even better, the next day.

Visit my last blog post for a technique that works in under 5-mins, is fun, can be done consistently (e.g. once a week) and has helped my clients make millions. 

Some tools to help you keep to your 5mins:
  • Have a countdown timer on a tablet or on the screen.
  • Another option is to pick a song or two that will get you to your desired time limit and frame this up by saying, “We’ve got 4minutes and 45secs to do this activity. That’s how long the two songs I have ready will play for. Let’s go…”

No Budget Method 2.
Call your business growth innovation something else so you can steal budget from other places in the business.
As I mention a lot in my content, people at work are risk-averse (over 90%, according to the research).

That’s one BIG reason it can be hard to find funding for your innovative business growth program.

The simplest way to get financing for your program is to call the activities something else.

You could call the program or individual activities something that promises growth but avoids risk.

To steal some funding from the Quality Assurance Budget, use process modernisation or process improvement.

To borrow funds from the products team, call it product modernisation.

If Customer service has money galore, call a part of it Customer Service enhancement or a CX/ UX improvement.

Marketing is one area that you will find almost always has money to use. Product and Market validation are just a couple of ways to use innovation synonyms to get people on board.

See my list here to find the 125 Innovation Synonyms you should be using in your business.

These synonyms can be used not just to steal budgets from elsewhere but to describe activities on times sheets without making it look like innovation.

Let’s say you want to do an insight generation workshop (identifying unmet or under-serviced customer needs, frustrations etc.); you could easily call it a Customer and competitor intelligence review instead.

These techniques work effectively despite being simple.

They can help you start business growth innovations rapidly and without a budget.
If you haven’t already done so, download my helpful guide - The Relaxed Innovation Managers Guide to Getting Anyone to Innovate here

I’d love to know how you go with your minimal budget approaches. Please DM or email me with your success stories or challenges if you have any.

Founder, Keynote Speaker, Author, Father, Extreme Sportsman

PS: Whether you’re looking for an innovation agency to improve your product with innovation, create an innovation disruption, or hack your business growth, we’re here to help.

Nils Vesk is a Four-Time Author and International Keynote Speaker. Nils has worked globally with over 200 bluechip companies including 3M, American Express, Canon, Caltex, Microsoft, Nestle´, IBM, Fuji Xerox, PWC, HP and Pfizer.
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About Nils Vesk

He's the founder of Ideas With Legs.

His  clients call him a Reinvention Renegade. Nils Vesk is an international authority on innovation and the inventor of the ‘Innovation Archetypes Process’.

Around the globe, leading companies such as Nestle, HP & Pfizer turn to Nils to share his proven innovation techniques for formulating commercial insights, ideas, extraordinary customer experiences and irresistible products.

Nils unpacks the million-dollar innovation principles used to create rapid growth for the future.

Nils is the author of a number of books including "Ideas With Legs - How to Create Brilliant Ideas and Bring Them to Life", and "Innovation Archetypes - Principles for World Class Innovation".

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