Innovation: Are You Pushing The Envelope?

Are you building a pipeline of new member programs, products and services through innovation?

Your members expect it from their chamber.  That’s a reason why they join.

Don’t go in with your eyes closed, set a plan: 1) Process; 2) Culture; 3) Resources; and 4) Fail Forward.

  • Process – set-up a mechanism so you can capture ideas from staff, volunteers and your members.
  • Culture – you need a cheerleader within the organization that can articulate the need for creating an innovative atmosphere.
  • Resources – commit the resources needed (staff and actual dollars) that shows a commitment to succeed.  If you show a commitment your board and your members will follow.
  • Fail Forward – this may be the most important part of your success.  Learn from any failures and “fail forward.”  Remember, the story of the “yellow sticky notes” by 3M?  It was an outcome from a different project that failed.

In my blog post “Delivering Value,” I use the term “pushing the envelope.”  If you have a background in military flying you know what that term means.

Create a form that outlines what the new project may be that takes into account the resources needed (staff and money), the time expected to bring this new program to fruition and what success will look like.  Think of it as a scorecard on the new projects business plan.

It will be ok to fail as long as you show your members that you are learning and trying new things to stay cutting edge for them.

Remember, make sure you’re always delivering the “core good” to the membership while pushing the envelope, and continue to innovate while keeping your members in mind on how you can better serve their needs.

That’s worth paying dues for, just ask any business person.  They took a risk when they opened their doors.  That’s what entrepreneurship is all about.

Start that new project today!

Incubators: Are You Supporting Your Local Entrepreneurs?

Does your chamber have a program to allow folks with an idea to get it up and running from within your chamber?

A number of chambers across the country are providing such a venue or “incubator” for new business ideas to take hold.

What a great way to get new members.

By supporting these start-ups it will position you to potentially get a lifelong member.

As chambers, we should do everything possible to help the entrepreneurs in our communities bring their ideas to market.

Today’s start-up will be tomorrow’s job creators and your future community leaders!

In membership, we talk about the lifetime value of members and a great way to fill that pipeline of prospective members is with businesses that got started through your "incubator" program.

Here are four examples of incubator programs at local chambers of commerce:

Help get that new business started this year!