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Recession Means Firms Must Think Up New Ideas

In tough times, many companies still operate with a ‘business as usual’ mindset. Market expert Ron Immink warns this is dangerous. We look at firms thinking outside the box What has perhaps struck me most about the many discussions between firms on in recent times is more what isn’t there than what is.

There has been much about e-commerce, search engine optimisation and selling, for example, but less on product development, research & development and product introductions.

My fear is that firms are under the false impression that it will be ‘business-as-usual’ post the recession. Sadly, this is not how it is going to play out.

In short, those that are expecting business as usual have their head in the sand (or clouds). The recession has brought the need for new ideas.

My view is that there is a wave of these in the pipeline that has not yet been released because of market conditions. Post-recession, those firms with a ‘business-as-usual’ mindset could be in for a rude awakening when the market will be flooded with new and improved products and services. Your company has to be ready |for that.

Innovation and product development are not rocket science. There are quite a lot of things you can do yourself, but you need to be prepared to put the time and effort in.

On these pages you will see three examples of Northern Ireland companies that have introduced new ideas or have developed their ‘product’ in recent times.

Wendy McCaughan has developed new protective wear for horse riders. Darren McKee has met the challenges of Northern Ireland’s property downturn by diversifying.

Rosemary Armstrong has invested in a new care home to enhance the delivery of services. Writer Seth Godin has a few good suggestions about how to approach the innovation process in your company. I picked three from his recent blog on innovation:

l Simplify the problem relentlessly, and be prepared to accept an elegant solution that satisfies the simplest problem you can describe.

l Be honest about resources. While false resource constraints may help you once or twice, the people you’re working with demand your respect, which includes telling them the truth.

l Raise the bar. Over and over again, raise the bar. Impossible a week ago is not good enough. You want stuff that is impossible today, because as they say the future begins tomorrow.

If you have your own views, please feel free to post an article, insight or view. Use it to bounce off ideas or connect with other business people. If you want to send me an e-mail, my email address is

Ron Immink is the author of a range of best selling publications on business planning, start-up and strategy for SMEs

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