Innovation and adaptability: Small Business BIG Ideas 2017

Innovation and adaptability were key themes from the inspiring keynote speakers at the Small Business BIG Ideas event held on 4 September, as part of the Small Business Festival Victoria.

I’d recommend learning more from these great speakers:

  • Gus Balbontin, Investor | Founder | Advisor

  • Dr Amantha Imber, Founder and CEO of Inventium

I jotted some notes to share.


Gus discussed disruption and business transformation.

  • It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

  • Adaptability in business is critical, with the rate of change getting faster and faster. (See the great slide above on disruption.)

  • Keep moving and improving. Simulate. Iterate. ‘Small is beautiful’.

  • Don’t do things following the system owned by the system.

  • The moral of the story about the tortoise and the hare isn’t that slow and steady wins the race, it’s don’t be arrogant and slack off!

  • Focus on customers and their needs (which change all the time). Fix customer problems, not your business’s problem.

  • Don’t ‘plan’ more than you ‘do’.

  • Innovation is the result of curiosity, courage and resilience.


Amantha shared some ways to boost innovation, and identified the need to replicate and repeat it.

  1. Find frustrations, not ideas. Frustrations are great opportunities to innovate. Ask clients about frustrations they’ve had with your business.

  2. Crush assumptions. They fence in our thinking.

  3. Have depth and breadth of expertise. Don’t be blinkered and focus on depth. You need breadth and depth for creativity and innovation. We are creatures of habit – go ‘wider’ (e.g. when you read the paper, explore different sections).

  4. Never make big decisions after lunch! In the morning our decision-making battery is full, but as we make decisions through the day (including the small ones like what to wear and what to eat for breakfast) we get decision fatigue. This leads to taking the easy way out.

  5. Run experiments. Innovation is risky, so test the riskiest hypothesis to minimise this risk. Experiments should be cheap and quick.


Nichole Maybury