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This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.
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The Balance Between Comfort and Innovation

 

Whether you are attempting to attract new customers, appease current customers, or perhaps both, you will find yourself evaluating different methods to grow your business.

On one side is the model of innovation—pushing out new and exciting features, services and opportunities to satiate the appetite of the customer looking for the shiny and new.

A different model is to go for comfort—the tried-and-true familiarity that is at the core of your brand and your offerings.  You keep things the same because that is what you do well.

So, how do you know which model you should pursue?  The answer is likely both, as the two models can work together symbiotically.

Think about the experience of going shopping at your favorite grocery or mass merchandise store.  While you probably have your go-to items, you likely also explore new merchandise, which is featured prominently on end-caps or other stand-alone displays.  You know that you can be up to speed on the latest and greatest when you go there, while still finding your favorite brands.

What if they never brought in anything new?  You may shop less frequently or you might try out another store for variety.  Or if they never updated the look of the store, you might eventually feel like you had hopped into the Hot Tub Time Machine and headed back to another decade, eventually wanting a more modern environment for your shopping.

On the other hand, some innovation is too much.  If Target changed the layout of the stores every week, you wouldn’t know where to find anything—it would kill your comfort and familiarity with the shopping experience.  If they brought in new merchandise each week and never carried your favorite brands, you would be overwhelmed and seek out a store that had more predictability.

Even Apple, who is the pillar of innovation, still keeps the comfort factor from release to release, so that the transition time isn’t too great.  The iPhone looked like the iPod.  The iPad looked like the iPhone, but larger.  One iPhone looks like the one that had preceded it, with some improvements.  This marries innovation with comfort.

So, as you grow your business, think about what tweaks you can make to innovate and update what you do without moving away from the core comfort that your customers have come to depend upon.

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011, 2012 & 2013) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
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