Business Finance: Keith Ferguson on why innovation is key to success

Keith Ferguson of BDO.

Keith Ferguson of BDO. - Credit: Archant

BDO recently hosted its first M-Club in the region ? a forum to help medium-sized businesses grow ? as part of our strategic partnership with the CBI.

The roundtable discussion brought together business leaders from across East Anglia to discuss the importance of embedding innovation within medium-sized businesses (MSBs).

All participants agreed that to help drive our economic recovery and to ensure we are in the strongest position as markets and technologies continue to shift, MSBs must put innovation at the very centre of what they do.

Often it’s perceived that ambitious start-up businesses are the ones that reap the rewards of innovation; nimble on their feet with less bureaucracy and entrepreneurial leaders at the helm.

At the other end of the scale you’ve got the largest companies throwing hundreds of thousands of pounds at research and development and being able to attract the very best people.

So where do our “mighty middle” fit in? MSBs are already an integral part of the region’s economy. Despite only representing 1.6% of firms, they employ 15% of the workforce and create 20% of revenue. MSBs are big business.

We all know that the Steve Jobs and James Dysons of this world are true innovators, but these are extreme examples. Whether you’re a manufacturer needing to produce lighter parts to the automotive sector, a freight company looking to reduce its carbon footprint, a call centre looking to off-shore (or re-shore) its customer services team or a business moving to the Cloud, each and every company needs to adapt.

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Being innovative in business isn’t just about invention, it’s about change. As one of our M-Club attendees said: “The challenge isn’t innovation itself; it is creating an environment that enables change.” He is right. Innovation is led by people and culture, backed by a business model that can adapt to the opportunities a recovering market presents.

Anticipating trends and developing new processes can be the key differentiator between market leaders and their rivals. Ultimately, innovators focus on delivering a better service to boost their bottom line.

BDO has considerable experience in helping companies embed innovation as part of their overall growth strategies. We can help MSBs break down barriers to innovation, create an environment where new ideas flourish and, most importantly, support them in taking these on to commercial success.

: : Keith Ferguson is based at the Ipswich office of BDO LLP.