Connected tightly with maneuvering and overall strategy, innovation is part of the culture of many small businesses. It’s the not-so-secret sauce that has forged the path to industry hegemony for the players who maintain that intrepid edge. Small businesses have an advantage in being better able to apply tactics to a dynamic, fluid reality than their larger competitors. But to remain viable, they must continue to innovate.

Small-business practitioners are all too familiar with the grim statistics that 80 percent of new businesses fail within the first five years. But what’s even more interesting is that many of the 20 percent that succeed take a different path than the one they started down—in some cases much different. We’ll turn ...

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