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Inventing Your Way Out of a Recession

(February 2011) posted on Thu Feb 03, 2011

Using research and development to thrive during economic downturns.

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By Craig Miller

Many risks, no assurances
There is always the danger that embarking on an R&D project might cause you to “take your eye off the ball.” Your company probably has a portfolio of products and services that make up the bulk of your business. Our company, for instance, has become good at performing specific processes and procedures; and because we know what we’re doing, this allows us to find a comfort zone. But by spending time and money on inventing or developing new products and services, it’s easy to take your focus off what you do best. Your core business might suffer from diverting your attention at the very time when it’s needed most. And it’s not just your time that gets diverted – cash flow that could be spent on things like inventory, equipment maintenance, increased staff, or raises, may also be siphoned into an R&D effort.

A second risk: There are no guarantees. Just because you have good ideas and good intentions, doesn’t mean you will ever make a dime attempting to fulfill them. So, after all the money and time is gone, the potential remains that you will get nothing in return.

A third risk: A failed new product can damage your company’s reputation. When you work within your comfort zone and only do things you absolutely know will succeed, you minimize your risk. By succumbing to the temptation to follow your wild imagination – or that of your clients’– you can be taken into uncharted territory where the risk of failure looms large. I can personally attest to the unfortunate consequences of being too cavalier about selling products that were imagined to be a big success.