Innovation is a holistic process but learnings from SME context tell us that especially business issues in innovation context need more emphasis. Business is about delivering innovation results and that is typically a major bottleneck.
From method and process perspective I have found out that current lean start up and business model dominant practises are in most cases not directly fit for SME context. In the following some orservations from Finnish perspective.
SMEs dont have as much effective time for new business development as corporations or even start ups. The time SME people have especially during business hours for development purposes is very limited.
Combined with limited contact network of a SME it means that a typical “talk to dozens of customers” is often out of the question. Especially in b-to-b context and with bigger companies as customers a very iterative process is out of reach of SMEs at least in the beginning.
So what is done needs to be relevant in practical sense, holistic and provide a strong realistic experience. For these purposes I have developed new approaches. Businezation is to create a business core which is closer to real business than a business model.
Smart SMEs are able to use business modelling as part of the process. What makes the use different from textbook use is that it is first used to unlearn current typically “hidden” business model. As the idea behind a business model is understood it is seldom an unsurmountable task to cope with several models.
There is always a tradeoff as changes are made to any process and probably some innovativeness is lost as not so many unique model combinations are found. Business modelling takes place only in a constrained sense due to limitations that SME have in new business implementation.
On the other hand many SME people are experienced and passionate and have “incubated” new possibilities even for years but there has not been possibilities for them to experiment their vision businesswise and in real contexts.
SME collaboration in new business area in a modern sense has not yet drawn much attention. I have written a LinkedIn article where I introduced an idea of how SME activity based on business models could be more than just any kind of collaboration but without need to go to formal structures.
SMEs could unite under a promising business model by an informal mechanism I called tacit firm! Tacit firm is a firm as lean as it can be!
There is a lot of untapped potential in SME sector!