I recently spoke at Digital Shoreditch in London. For those that don’t know, Digital Shoreditch is known for being the SXSW of Europe. With 400 sessions and over 6,000 attendees from 868 different companies, Digital Shoreditch presents a snapshot of the current state of tech and innovation in business. I spoke about fostering innovation in your business, which can be summarized with 5 quick takeaways:
Innovation is a byproduct of focus.
Businesses are getting leaner. The average employee has more responsibility, less time and greater expectations to achieve more with less. Smart businesses recognize the value of an A-player and will work harder to retain great talent. Part of getting the highest value production from your employees relies on your ability to eliminate their daily distractions. Cumbersome, mundane and simple tasks can be outsourced to service providers, freelancers and large scale outsourcing centers. For your employees to be innovative, you need to help them eliminate distractions.
To achieve true focus, you must “routinize” yourself.
A quote from President Barack Obama, “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” In any given day, you make thousands of decisions, some important and some trivial. The people that are able to squeeze out every last drop of productivity from their day are those that can “routinize” themselves. Save your focus for important decisions that will greatly change your business.
80/20 rule: Is proven and you should use it.
Often used by various self help gurus or efficiency experts, the 80/20 rule is actually applicable in modern business. For example, Riot Games, King.com and Zynga all have reported that 80% or more of their profits come from 20% of their users. Facebook also reports that a mere 20% of their users account for over 80% of their total activity. Granted, it is incredibly difficult to find concrete examples of the 80/20 rule in business. However, the basic lesson we taught with the 80/20 rule is highly relevant: smart businesses determine what drives their growth and focus on that.
Outsource what is simple, repeatable and time consuming.
Perhaps this is strange advice to receive from an outsourcer, but you should only outsource tasks or daily business operations that are simple, repeatable and time consuming. The companies that outsource successfully are able to do so because they have mastered a process in-house first. Build new operational processes in-house first to determine whether or not the process is in fact simple, repeatable/trainable and time consuming.
Outsourcing’s growth mirrors the growth of e-commerce.
While e-commerce sales topped a trillion dollars in 2012, it still only accounted for 5.2% of the total retail sales in the US. The outsourcing industry, like e-commerce, is rapidly growing, but outsourced jobs only account for 1.5% of the total US labor market. If the outsourcing industry has a similar growth trajectory to e-commerce, outsourced labor will represent 5% of the total workforce by 2020. Like e-commerce, outsourcing has become an integral part of any growing business. Innovative businesses will continue to outsource non-core competencies to improve efficiency and focus their resources on building highly specialized internal teams.
Presenting at Digital Shoreditch was an honor as TaskUs was included amongst the most innovative entrepreneurs and businesses from all over the world. Spending time with the festival attendees and observing the various sessions, it became immediately apparent that big changes are brewing. Everyone seemed to have incredibly innovative ideas and business models. However, the difference between an innovator and a dreamer in business remains the same: their ability to execute. Which one are you?