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Idea Box: Be Curious
Be curious: Curiosity in business can spark innovation and drive sales.

By Staff
Date Posted: 9/1/2013

                Curiosity is a powerful force in business. It can be the difference between a missed opportunity and a new customer. It is what sparks most new innovations. And a good dose of curiosity can go a long way toward helping a company grow.

                The power of curiosity is that it combats stagnation in business by constantly wondering why or how and is not afraid to question assumptions. Why is a product manufactured the way it is? Why did a customer switch to another supplier? How could processes be more efficient? How do other companies handle problems? The result is purposefully asking questions about your company, customers, competitors and suppliers as a way to generate insights that can help your company move forward.

                Curiosity can be applied in business in many ways. The easiest way may be by simply asking questions of and about customers. Doing this will uncover unmet needs, revealing an opportunity to meet them. Whenever you speak to a customer, take the time to ask questions about what is happening in their business. If they tell you they had a frustrating day, find out what hassles they had to deal with and what would have made it easier for them. If they have been busy, find out what has been taking up their time. You may find out that they need a service or product that your company can provide.

                So be curious about your customer. Do you know what your customers ship on the pallets they buy from you? Do you know what kind of conditions they store them in? Do you know what type of service options would make their lives easier? You should.

                You can also ask questions about your own company. Avoid accepting the status quo just because it is the way things have always been done. Ask questions about current processes, people and the industry. Be willing to challenge any assumptions that are held and be open to the idea that your company can improve on anything. This includes those things it already does very well. Doing so can spark additional questions and lead to creative and profitable innovation.

                Be curious about your competitors. What are they doing differently than you? What are they doing the same? What are they doing better? But don’t stop at merely seeing what they do and copying it. Rather, try to understand why they do things the way they do and why they work. By being curious enough to understand instead of merely copying, you will gain the knowledge needed to see which ideas can be adapted to fit your company.

                Be curious about your suppliers. What different service options do they offer? What would they be willing to give discounts for? Are there any services you could provide for them? Though supplier relationships are traditionally seen as one-way, there could be an opportunity for your company if you take the time to think and ask the right questions.

                No matter what the industry, curiosity can lead to company growth. It is the only way to discover unmet needs or find a better way of doing things. Curiosity also drives research into new successful products and services. And it all starts with someone pausing for a moment to ask, “I wonder...?”

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