There’s a very good reason why one road is less traveled. When you stray from well-worn roadways, the risks become greater and there is no one to guide you out of the woods. Aaron Levie, CEO at Box, expressed this idea as, “Innovation in tech favors the naive and the stubborn. If you are too rational, you won’t tackle problems that others once failed at.”

True innovation is hard, yet it’s fashionable for people and businesses to say that they are engaged in the struggle. “Innovation” has become quite the buzzword lately, generating countless articles on the topic. For instance, a Google search on the keyword brings up half a billion responses.

I’m not here to continue that discussion. Instead, I would like to discuss how innovation can lead you down roads less traveled should you pursue “novel solutions to important problems,” like we have done at American Pacific Mortgage.

Innovation Is Seeking Problems

That goal was highlighted in Greg Satell’s recent Forbes article “6 Things Every Organization Needs to Innovate.” Satell found one trait that was shared by successful business leaders and organizations: They seek out problems and then deploy the necessary strategies, tools and people to solve them.

Doing this requires an innovative spirit. Staring down an untested path on the road less traveled can be intimidating. There’s no shame in turning back, but innovative companies forge ahead.

Innovation at American Pacific Mortgage

At American Pacific Mortgage we intend to solve problems by seeking out new challenges to conquer. For example, we identified the growing trend of consumers who begin their home-buying journey online.

For our referral partners, this at first appeared to be a potential threat to future business. We didn’t ignore it and we didn’t fight it. We proactively researched a better way to connect with this audience and deliver a better experience.

We launched AP Connect, an online lead-nurturing platform at scale. In the 18 months since our launch, we have built a streamlined organization that supports our branch managers, loan officers and referral partners in supporting their customers’ online inquiries. From this investment, we have seen historical conversion rates from internet business and we believe this breakthrough will help create a sustainable business model for the future.

Lack of Innovation Is Dangerous

The old saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” has too often justified complacency in the market. Many businesses have been burned after shifting their focus away from their core competency. As a result, many interpret that old saying to mean, “Innovation is dangerous.” What they don’t take into consideration is that the world has changed. Today, lack of innovation is dangerous.

It may seem counterproductive to change what has been successful in the past, but the past is no guarantee of future success. Success comes to those who are actively seeking out unique, new pathways, original business models and roads less traveled. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all thorny pathways lead to success. There will be bumps along the way, but the journey will be worth it.

It’s time to leave the well-worn path and strike out into the wilderness of innovation. Seek out the most painful, unsolved problems. Prioritize your goals for innovation based on your company’s core mission and your ability to execute. Remember, the best part about taking the road less traveled is that your competition is frightened of it. Act with intention and confidence, even if you have never traveled there before. The most successful pathways always look obvious, but only in retrospect.

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