Cash flow problems creating barriers to innovation

Innovation is a key business consideration. Staying ahead of competitors in your industry often requires extensive thought leadership and sector-leading product developments.

Businesses that introduce innovation into their operations are more likely to experience business benefits compared with those that don't. Benefits include increased revenue (39 per cent), reduced costs (19 per cent) and improved customer service (43 per cent), according the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

However, this is a lot easier said than done. Many challenges can stand in the way of true business innovation. Overcoming these barriers requires foresight and thorough planning. For 20 per cent of local businesses, not having access to adequate funds was identified as the key issue blocking innovation, the ABS revealed. 

Released on August 21, the ABS Innovation in Australian Business 2012-13 report revealed that funding was the most common innovation challenge. This was followed by a lack of skilled people and the uncertainty of future demand for products. 

As well as one in five businesses suggesting that access to funding was their most significant challenge, 14 per cent were also concerned about the cost of innovation to their business.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to overcome these cash flow barriers. By integrating the following suggestions into your business plans, you could achieve improved innovation – increasing your industry competitiveness.


Collaborate

Collaboration is often the key to achieving the level of creative thinking and forethought required to introduce innovative products and activities. 

By working with other professionals and businesses, you can benefit from a fresh perspective on issues facing your organisation. Alternatively, you may want to engage your own employees to participate in innovation practices. This can be beneficial as it allows you to tackle the process from a multi-level perspective.

Collaboration can also solve certain cash flow problems, as joining with another business can give you access to additional funding and investments.


Boost your revenue

With costs being one of the biggest barriers to innovation, it is important to ensure your business is able to build the capital needed to cover the expenses.

There are many factors that can impact on your ability to collect and boost income. One issue that may arise is when clients continue to delay invoiced payments.

When you are constantly left waiting for revenue to arrive, it is unlikely that you will be able to invest significant funds towards innovation.

Fortunately, you can vastly improve invoice payment times by investing in direct debit for businesses. This solution provides you and your customers with a flexible, fast and easy way to collect and process payments.


Plan ahead

Innovation is all about meeting the challenges and needs of your business and your clients. For this reason, it is crucial that you are able to plan ahead – whether through cash flow management strategies or succession planning.

By preparing yourself for future barriers and industry developments, you should be able to not only meet funding challenges head on, but also identify the key issues that could be addressed through innovation.

Creating a unique solution to an impending problem is a key component of business innovation. Through this process, you will not only benefit your business operations, but can then develop the solution into marketable idea to add to your revenue.

For instance, if you identify a potential contraction in your industry and develop a plan to protect your income, it could be possible to set-up workshops and training for other businesses facing similar issues. By possibly charging for these sessions, and offering ongoing support, you may even stumble across a potential recurring revenue model that can continue to provide for your business over the months or even years to come.

Innovation can benefit any business, regardless of the industry or operations. To ensure you are on the best footing to gain a competitive edge, it is important to protect your cash flow first.