How can you become a creative entrepreneur? Being creative and innovative in business is becoming increasingly important in an uncertain and competitive climate. Following the pandemic, it has been argued that SME businesses are ready to shine with creative ways of adapting their businesses to meet emerging customer needs.
But how can entrepreneurs become more creative?
1. Understand yourself as a person
Damien Koziol believes that the first step to being more creative is to understand how you prefer to work. He knows that he is more extroverted and therefore if someone wanted him to be creative, the best way would be to put him in a group to discuss a topic and the ideas would flow from him freely. However, the best way for an introverted person to be creative may be to create time and space to think through a topic alone. Therefore, it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand themselves and each other on a personality level to improve productivity and creativity.
2.Bounce ideas around with others
Even if you are introverted, getting another voice in the room is never a bad thing. Damien said the next stage for entrepreneurs to become more creative is to generate as many ideas as possible, so you have enough to filter, test and select. This can be the best way to find the most innovative solution to your business challenge.
Additionally, Isháun Sahni said that many of us become like people with whom we regularly interact. So perhaps, if you want to be a more creative business leader, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs that naturally have an inquisitive mindset, and in the end, you may start to mirror some of their creative behaviours. Isháun also advises business owners to improve their creativity by having a positively disruptive, confidential and candid sounding board that help you think outside of the box. TAB members have the benefit of bringing this kind of opportunity to their TAB Board.
3. Take time away from your business
Even big businesses such as Google encourage employees to take time off to be more creative. Martin Munro, our facilitator in West Herts, shares his thoughts on why you should take time away from your business to become more creative:
At its heart, for me innovation boils down to finding new ways of doing things (process changes and process improvement) and new ways of satisfying customer needs and wants (products and services). Sometimes those new ways can involve radical changes brought about by harnessing new technologies but often the changes are incremental. Radical changes will often be inspired by external inputs such as trade shows, seminars and other showcases for emerging technologies. This is why it is so important for business owners to regularly take time out to take stock of their business and devote time to horizon-scanning and looking outside their businesses.
Isháun agreed, saying that as a leader, taking time and being interested in new creative concepts is imperative. Why not try setting regular slots for creative thinking every week?
Martin also noted that incremental changes are often derived from investing time and resource into constantly asking the question “what can we do to improve what we do?” This may be through customer surveys, staff surveys and team meetings, recognising and rewarding staff who bring forward new ideas and constructive challenge to the status quo.
5. Be prepared to be wrong
Rick Dent thought that entrepreneurs looking to be more creative would benefit from hearing Sir Ken’s Robinson’s TED talk on the subject of: ‘Do schools kill creativity?’
He defines creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. He contends, more often than not, that creativity comes at the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things (visual, sound, kinaesthetic, abstract, movement).
Sir Ken concludes that we don’t grow into creativity as we get older, we grow out of it (or more poignantly, we are educated out of it).
Children are creative, partly because they are not afraid of being wrong (they’re prepared to take a chance). He tells an anecdote of a child drawing a picture of God. When her teacher points out that no-one knows what God looks like, the child confidently replies, ‘They will in a minute!’
Many companies are run on the ethos of minimising mistakes. Without being prepared to be wrong, you cannot be creative or come up with original ideas. Although, of course, just being wrong doesn’t make you creative.
As a business owner, you will create the opportunity for creativity if you develop a culture that isn’t punitive about mistakes and which recognises and values a range of disciplinary ways of seeing things.
6. Follow a method to being creative
According to Dougie Brown creativity is not a gift from God only granted to certain people, rather it is something that all entrepreneurs can cultivate. There is a method to being creative.
According to brain scientist Robert Epstein, there are 4 key elements of creativity:
- Capturing – preserve new ideas as they come to you and do so without judging them. Writing down ideas and notions in the moment “hijacks the inner-censor” and they are not lost after they first come to mind.
- Challenging – embrace tough problems and situations – multiple behaviours that ensue competition and their interconnections create new behaviours and ideas. The most creative entrepreneurs are much less discouraged than others when there is no immediate enthusiasm for their ideas.
- Broadening – simply continue to learn new and interesting things. The more diverse your knowledge, the more interesting are your interconnections. Creative entrepreneurs have lots of ideas that do not work, but the point is they have lots of ideas.
- Surrounding – the more interesting the people and things that you have around you, the more interesting your own ideas become. Creative entrepreneurs will surround themselves with diverse influences, through the people they spend time with, the books they read and the experiences with which they engage.
7. Be childish
Yes, you’ve read that right. In a similar way to how Ken Robinson talks about children being creative, Isháun thinks entrepreneurs can go back and start thinking like kids – experimenting and testing with ‘let me try and see what happens’ approach. Isháun has pointed us towards Dr George Land’s experiment that proved that adults are only 2% creative compared to five-year-olds at 98%. When answering the question, ‘can creativity be taught?’, Dr Land claims we can ‘We learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information.’ So, give it a go – be more childish!
8. Create a creative culture
A company culture is a company’s shared vision and values – a significant contribution towards a business’ success. Isháun, Rick and Martin all shared that to be a more creative entrepreneur, you could create and encourage an environment for rewarding new concepts and ideas. If business owners and leaders can encourage more creative thinking within their teams, they will also encourage it within themselves. Could creativity even be one of your cultural values? Check out our chapter on how to live out your company culture for more pointers.
What are your tips for becoming a more creative entrepreneur?