4/27/2010 - Innovation and Small Business Development

Published TDC News Online - April  2010  Feature Article
The Development Corporation of Clinton County

Innovation and Small Business
By Rick Leibowitz, Regional Director, North Country SBDC

Everyone seems to agree that the future of our economy will be determined by our ability to create jobs for our workforce. Yet where will these jobs come from?

According to a report by the US Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, 65% of net new jobs have come from small businesses over the past 15 years. Many would think that in a challenging economy, economic Darwinism would favor larger businesses, but actually the opposite is the case.

When it comes to economic development, quality, not quantity is necessary for true job creation.  New or expanded ventures are always welcome, but there will only be a net creation of jobs from those enterprises if there is some form of innovation that results in market expansion. In reviewing the case histories of some of our most successful companies one can easily see various examples of innovation.  There are four basic types of innovation:

  • Product innovation – creating something  that improves upon an existing product/service or introduces a completely new product/service to the marketplace
  • Process innovation –   operational efficiencies that reduce costs
  • Marketing innovation – new methods to expand market awareness of a product or service
  • Paradigm innovation – creating a new way of viewing the possibilities of the future – for example, imagining the personal computer as an everyday tool used by the majority of the population.

Unlike an invention, which just refers to something that is new or unique, with innovation, there is a certain expectation of profitability.  After all, you cannot sustain an enterprise and job growth without a profitable business model.

Unfortunately, with the entry of anything that is new to the marketplace, there are certain inherent risks, which can often lead to business failures.  For small businesses, the incidence of business failures is high, with an estimated 50% of small venture closing within the first five years of operation.  While there are many factors that may lead to failure, ultimately the common denominator for failure results from inadequate planning.

That is where the North Country Small Business Development can provide assistance. As part of a partnership program between SUNY Plattsburgh and the US Small Business Administration, our center provides pro bono and confidential one-on-one business counseling services to help both prospective and existing small business owners create better plans for their ventures.   

Our rapid response services are tailored to meet the specific needs of our clients at any stage in their business planning process. Sometimes we meet with our clients briefly to answer a few specific questions, while others may seek more comprehensive assistance as they develop their business plans.

While some may be concerned about starting a new enterprise during these difficult economic times, any time is the right time for innovation.  For those who are thinking of starting or expanding an enterprise, the support network is available in Clinton County to help you assess feasibility and develop a plan for success. As Thomas Edison once said, "There is a way to do it better – find it!" 




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The SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center at Clinton Community College is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the US Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.