Many small business owners hear the word all the time – innovate – but they may not be sure exactly what it means, or how that concept can actually help them grow their venture.

Essentially, innovation is the ability to take something old and established, like, for example, running a small business, and then turning it on its head. This could be done by bringing in new ideas and strategies, adapting a creative financial plan or finding an exciting way to reach customers. Overall, truly great organizations are innovative within their industries, and small businesses should be as well.

If this sounds easier said than done, there is hope. Thankfully, a number of easy-to-implement solutions exist for the owners and entrepreneurs who want to stand out from the crowd, and to do so without breaking business banking and spending thousands of dollars.

Diversify the organization from within
Diversity can be one of the major driving factors behind innovation, according to Inc. magazine. This means hiring a unique group of staff members –  people who will each bring something new and exciting to the venture. 

However, many managers feel that potential hires have to fit a certain mold in order to succeed within the company. This isn't exactly true, Inc. magazine explained. A collection of characters will breed innovation, because these people will challenge the status quo, present a conflict of ideas and bring a wide range of experience to the table. Therefore, a diverse team will often get the best possible outcomes, and find new ways to get the job done that other people may not have been able to achieve. Most importantly, this will help a small business reach the proper customers, and grow at a faster rate than otherwise possible.

In addition to diversity, small business owners have to willing to think outside-the-box themselves, the news source noted. A number of entrepreneurs and other leaders have outdated skill sets, and that could lead to a bad company culture. Instead, be willing to listen to employees, encourage creative thinking and take risks when appropriate. Industry culture is constantly changing, and a small business should be willing to adapt right along with it.

Do it better than the competitor
It goes without saying, but the easiest way to succeed as a small business is to sell products or services better than the competitors'. This is often the best method to boost a financial plan and appeal to a wide range of customers without a large monetary investment. 

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, wrote in an article for Entrepreneur magazine that finding something people want and then making it better is a good way to innovate. Even ideas that lack originality can still succeed, because the people behind the company look for ways to build it better and appeal to customers. Most importantly, they have to connect with the brand and realize what is offered that can't be had elsewhere. 

In order to do this, a small business owner should tell people about the story behind the product, Branson explained. This can help customers connect, and they'll see a personal face behind the corporate culture. This can be done through educational programs, community services or other creative ideas. A small business owner who can work with local residents and build a sense of camaraderie will often have an easier time succeeding. If the product is confusing – or interesting – it may be helpful to offer classes for the public to learn about it, and perhaps even build something themselves.