Innovate your way to growth

Innovation conjures up images of geeks in garages, but it’s not restricted to tech start-ups. It’s a way of doing business that any SME can emulate by tapping into Australia’s rapidly expanding innovation ecosystem.

There’s a growing number of incubators accelerators and innovation hubs located in Australian capital cities, regional areas and universities. The primary focus of hubs such as Stone & Chalk, Fishburners and BlueChilli is to help start-ups develop capabilities and achieve commercial success, often linking them with finance and mentors.
Some hubs also help big names such as Macquarie Bank and Westpac tap into emerging tech talent to crowd source ideas and develop cutting-edge business solutions. According to the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, businesses that innovate are 60 per cent more likely to increase profits. They are also twice as likely to increase their productivity and employment.
What all these developments have in common is a move to develop a nationwide innovation ecosystem that businesses big and small can tap into.

What is innovation?

According to a recent CommBank report, innovation can take many forms – from ground-breaking new products, novel processes, inventive marketing or a unique business model. It typically starts with making the most of opportunities by better adapting products and services.
One small business ticking all the above is Therapy Connect, which delivers allied health services to rural and remote families via teleconferencing. The business is the brainchild of two rural therapists - Simone Dudley, an occupational therapist based in Deniliquin NSW and Sue Cameron, a speech pathologist based in Casterton Victoria.
For Simone and business partner Sue, necessity really was the mother of invention – or innovation. “We are both married to farmers and were looking for opportunities to work without having to drive huge distances” says Dudley.
When they started Therapy Connect two years ago, telepractice was new to health delivery, but with the NBN rolling out and the NDIS looming, Simone and Sue saw an opportunity and responded. Rural families would have access to funding via the NDIS but there were often no local services to spend it on.
The pair were strangers until they were introduced via their professional network. Simone says networking has been the catalyst for everything that followed, from seeking out innovative technology and marketing solutions to developing a unique business model.

Tapping into the global brains trust

There were no business models to follow in Australia, so Simone looked to America for inspiration and started experimenting. One of the first things they did was connect with the University of Sydney Wobbly Hub research team to test the effectiveness of their business model.   

“We also learned an awful lot from our connection with Google as a Regional Australia Institute/Google Online Heroes national finalist”, says Simone. They attended a Google Masterclass to learn about present and future trends across business systems, marketing, cloud-based business applications and consumer behaviours that may influence business.

An NDIS grant helped them further develop their strategy, including marketing.

The challenge is to turn innovation into a way of life, by turning an isolated initiative into a disciplined and repeatable process spanning every aspect of the business.”

According to the CommBank report, the challenge is to turn innovation into a way of life, as Therapy Connect is doing, by turning an isolated initiative into a disciplined and repeatable process spanning every aspect of the business.

Simone says the potential for growth is huge and exciting. The business now has clients across five time-zones, from an island off the tip of the Northern Territory to expat families in Asia. Last quarter they tripled their billable hours and need to hire more therapists.

Innovation is not without risk and businesses need to help cover those risks with the right business insurance. As your business changes, so will your insurance needs. Technology is developing at such a rapid pace that new risks are emerging as well as new products to protect against them, such as Cyber Insurance. Your Steadfast broker has global access to the latest insurance solutions which can be developed and adapted to your local market. 


Important note - the information provided here is general advice only and has been prepared without taking in account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Steadfast Group Ltd (ABN 98 073 659 677, AFSL 254928)
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