Creativity is often thought of as a reserved attribute for those we assume are working in the ‘creative industry’. Most of us still consider certain people as ‘creatives’ and not ourselves.
All too often I hear statements like: “I’m just not a creative person” or “Oh, you’re one of those creative types”. We all have the capacity to be creative and we can all benefit from being more creative, especially people starting or working in small businesses.
Let’s start by defining what ‘creative’ actually means.
“Creative: resulting from originality of thought, expression etc.; imaginative.” Nowhere in any dictionary does the definition of ‘creative’ read: “Has the ability to draw, paint or craft something like an artist.” We have to move away from the idea that creativity is about artistry or drawing ability; creativity is actually the ability to think differently and not be afraid to try something new – innovate, some would say.
Why should you be more creative?
If you aren’t being creative within your business, then surely your business is just a carbon copy of someone else’s? How can you innovate if you merely imitate? Your market is flooded, competition is high and I’m guessing there is only so much margin that you can squander in a price war. So it’s time to stand out from the crowd for a different reason.
Being open to finding different and refreshing solutions to your customers’ needs is the start of your creative transition. Then you have to start looking at the problems from a different perspective: that of your clients. See what it’s like to be in their shoes and empathise with them. There is always another way and it could be a better way; you just have to find it.
How do I become more creative?
There are many ways, such as sparking and engaging your imagination. Children are inherently creative; you give them a great toy and they are likely to spend more time playing with a cardboard box. Why is that? Because a toy is generally designed for one use, while the box has boundless options once they engage their imagination: a car, a castle, a hut in the woods, a plane – the list goes on. Removing restriction allows your creative side to come out. These could be self-imposed restrictions or environmental restrictions, or even industry expectations which hold you back. Take away the boundaries and you’ll soon see new horizons, like a horse without blinkers.
Try these suggestions:
Get out of your normal working environment to somewhere open, new and engaging.
Chat with people who know nothing about your role or business about your ideas; they don’t have your imposed restrictions.
Be open to silly or over-the-top ideas. These often generate the best basis for great ideas.
Introduce an element of play and have fun in the office.
Challenge the norms of your industry, and don’t just mimic others.
Give your staff the time, resources and forum to generate new ideas. Google used to give its staff one day a week to explore side projects or ideas that weren’t in their job description. This is why we now have Gmail, AdSense and more.
Creativity is not reserved for creatives; your business and career can be positively affected with an influx of new ideas and fresh thought. Just give yourself that chance. Creativity in business takes courage.