A creative entrepreneur is above the level of an ordinary entrepreneur. Creativity is a superpower, and it is not just artists, painters, actors and actresses who need to have creativity. Entrepreneurship has been seen as a left brain, rational, driven activity. However, the truth is, entrepreneurs who tap into the power of their creativity can create better products and services for their customers. They can reimagine how the customer experience should be like. These entrepreneurs can captivate the minds of their customers and delight them. For them, it is not business as usual.
Researchers who study creativity say that it is important to combine two modes of thinking: convergent and divergent thinking, to have creative outbursts. Convergent thinking is highly analytical, and it seeks to generate one correct solution given the data available while divergent thinking is to come up as much as possible solutions to the problem.
Here are fifteen strategies and activities you can employ to nurture and use creativity to enhance your business.
Take time off to relax and unwind
Yes, hustle is good, but very often creativity strikes when the mind is relaxed and feeling good. Take ample vacations throughout the year just to carefully reflect and think about your life and business. Use this time to unleash your imagination so that it can trigger creativity inside you. Creativity is all about imagination having fun.
On the daily side, you should do some meditation as science has proven it has many health benefits, including better health and a sharper mind. Just focus on your breaths and eureka moments that can have a big impact on your business can show up anytime. So keep a notebook nearby to note these moments of inspiration.
You should also take regular breaks throughout the day. An ideal ratio would be a 15-minute break every 45 minutes of work. You can take a quick walk during this 15-minute break so that you can refresh your mind.
Alternatively, you can use the Pomodoro app. It gives you the opportunity to do focused work for 25 minutes, and then you take a five-minute break after.
If you are a freelancer and you work at home, you can do some quick house chores first before returning to your work.
Burnout is the antithesis of creativity, and so you must harness the power of sleep to become a creative entrepreneur. When you wake up refreshed in the morning because of a great sleep, you are going to have a great day because you will have the energy to execute your creative ideas. You are likely to have a better chance of entering into a state of flow.
Play. It is not only kids who need to play. Adults need to play as well. So take the time to play, e.g. find a team sport you can engage in. You can also play some computer games or apps on your smartphone. Just make sure you do not get addicted to it and end up wasting precious hours.
Get into a state of flow
A creative entrepreneur seeks to be in a state of flow. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who coined and researched extensively the idea of Flow defined it as having the optimal experience. This means being engaged and involved as much as possible in an activity. It is when you experience “being in the zone, ” and you are engrossed in the activity that time seems to fly.
So how do you get into this state of flow? First, you must choose activities which you genuinely like and are competent in. As an entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to delegate tasks that you are not well suited in and dislike. Yes, they are horrible tasks but they must be done. However, as a creative entrepreneur, you must seek to focus on doing the essential tasks for your business that bring the most joy and impact to you and your business. Tapping your strengths is the key to success in life and business.
State of Flow
Being in a state of flow is beneficial because it creates happiness and it generates positive energy. This allows you to be more creative because happiness yields more creativity. A lot of our great ideas come during fun and happy moments. If you are a writer like me, a lot of my plot ideas and book ideas come when I am reading quietly in a café or after a watching a great film. As such, I always have my phone nearby to jot down creative ideas that transpire during these moments. This notebook of ideas can create millions for you once you take time out to evaluate the ideas and figure out which ones are the easiest and most relevant to your business then.
Be active and hustle
Yes, creativity lives at the extremes. By taking regular breaks of various durations, you can boost your creative juices yet at the same time, being active and hustling in your endeavors and business will boost your creativity. An active mind creates more neurons and brain activity that can spark creative ideas.
So take the time to exercise daily, even if it just a simple walk or jog. You do not actually need a gym membership to be active. If you can use the stairs to reach the 2nd floor or just walk if the place you are going to is just a couple of blocks away, then do so. Always remember that a creative entrepreneur puts health and fitness as a priority.
Read and Learn
If you study the billionaires of the world, one common factor between them is their love of learning and particularly reading. They’re geeky with books. They carve in their day a couple of hours to engage in reading. Warren Buffett is said to spend at least five hours daily reading. Mark Zuckerberg has an online Facebook Group where he shares his thoughts on his current read and encourages others to read the book and share their ideas on it. Bill Gates is a reader too and comes up with his list of recommended books that everyone should read.
So take time in your day to read. You can even do audio books if you are perpetually on the go so that you can still get some learning done. Even learning apps like Duolingo where you can learn different languages can engage your brain in daily learning which in return can help your mind make more ideas for your life and business.
Doing games like crosswords and Sudoku can also be useful in keeping your mind sharp and allow creativity to thrive.
Live a life of curiosity. That is the path of the creative entrepreneur.
Have a beginner mindset and watch the magic and creativity unfold as new learnings push you to new ideas and success.
Be on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration in all the subject areas that you are interested. By reading widely (both fiction and non-fiction), you will be able to learn new ideas and connect seemingly unconnected ones.
Get inspired through learning. This can mean watching TED videos, listening to podcasts and other inspiring talks and videos as well as attending talks and seminars that can get you inspired and get your creative juices to work.
Take action every day
This means trying out your ideas that you have listed in your notebook relating to your business and see if it works. Do these little experiments and learn from them. If the idea works, you can have it executed on a bigger scale and gain more customers and profits as a result. Should the idea fail, that is all right. If there’s a way to tweak it so it can work, then do so.
The idea is that taking massive action regularly can lead to more learning and creativity.
A creative entrepreneur always has a bias for action.
Bias for Action
When you have a bias for action, you will encounter challenges and difficulties, and these things give you the opportunity to tap your creativity and problem-solving skills.
Keep testing your ideas until you find those that truly work. Learn from these experiments and document it so that through reflection, you can understand what went wrong and right and thus you can iterate and plan better your next idea.
Focus on the What and your Why. The how bit will unfold itself once you commit to the long-term goal you have in mind for your business.
As a small business entrepreneur, you wear many hats. You are not just the boss. Relish the fact that you play many roles and you only answer to yourself. As such, be in explorer mode and learn as much as you can about these different tasks and roles in business.
Creating a teamwork driven culture in your business can unleash the creativity of everyone in your team. Instead of doing things on your own, learn to delegate and give them a working environment where creativity can thrive.
Collaborating can also mean working with other entrepreneurs and specialists to work on projects. An idea from someone else can trigger your mind with new ideas. Having other people to bounce ideas to can help you refine your ideas. They are sure to have seen aspects of your idea that you might not have thought off or considered.
It is not even necessary to meet physically with your team to work on a project because there are many tools like Trello and Slack that allows you to collaborate with anyone across the globe.
So take the time to network and meet people so that you can learn from them and vice-versa. Sharing of ideas and having great conversations can trigger new ideas and allow you to truly become a creative entrepreneur.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to collaborate with you because in general people love to be asked to join a project and if they are unable to or don’t want to, they will be very polite in declining.
Embrace difficulties and challenges
Part of the mindset of a creative entrepreneur is the confidence to embrace difficulties and challenges. Entrepreneurship is a difficult path to trod and every day you will encounter problems and challenges. However, a creative entrepreneur does not succumb to the pressure or difficulty. They embrace it. They know that their creativity coupled with their knowledge, network and business acumen, they will be able to come up with creative ideas to solve the situation.
So whenever you are facing some difficulty or challenge, remind yourself that you are a creative entrepreneur, someone with the superb ability to problem solve and get things working as planned.
Have courage! In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
Embrace the frustration and chaos that you will encounter at every part of your journey as a creative entrepreneur.
You should also embrace ambiguity as entrepreneurship is always dealing with situations which you do not have complete information. Sometimes the things you will handle don’t have a clear-cut answer, and thus part of your task is to let your creativity unfold to handle this ambiguity.
As a creative entrepreneur, you know that one of the best ways to market your business is to be creative and to stand out from your competitors. As such, you should train your mind and your marketing team to come up with guerilla marketing tactics that can help increase your leads, boost your sales and increase your profits. Marketing is the lifeblood of business because it brings in revenues. As such, a creative entrepreneur will avoid old-school mass marketing that targets everyone and no one in particular which can get some views and leads but ultimately will not be a cost-effective way of getting more customers.
Get out of your routine once in a while
Routines and systems are necessary to give the order to your life as an entrepreneur, and it also helps you build useful habits over time. However, creativity can be unleashed if you get out of your routine once in a while. If you always take the same route to your office, use another route sometimes. You will discover new things which can trigger new ideas and discoveries.
So try out different things. This includes food, places to go and activities to engage in. For example, you might not see yourself as someone who cooks but if there is an opportunity for you to try some cooking lessons, go for it.
When you try out different things and apply the learnings in your context and business, it can be a transformative change that can yield some interesting results. That is the secret of Elon Musk. He studies various disciplines and sciences and can extract the core ideas and principles of the subject and apply it in his Tesla and solar energy business.
Be active online
One of the key things to do in this digital age is active online. A creative entrepreneur engages their audience and customers online. This means regularly updating your social media and engaging them when they interact or comment on your social media platform. You should also ensure that your blog gets updated with good content regularly. Getting ideas and suggestions from your audience is useful because this can trigger new ideas for your business and improve the way you communicate with them.
Don’t be a perfectionist
Perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. Being a creative entrepreneur means being open to making mistakes and failing. If you are a perfectionist, it is going to be hard for you to come up with creative ideas because you are always criticizing your ideas and your team’s ideas.
So be open-minded and let ideas flourish in your business. You can quickly eliminate the ideas you do not fancy another time. Meanwhile, create a culture in your business where it is all right to make mistakes and fail.
Just keep at it and keep shipping your products and services.
This kind of mindset will help you consistently improve.
Think the Opposite
Entrepreneurship has long been branded as using logic and common sense to solve problems. While it has its merits, sometimes the best way to get creative and come up with novel ways of doing business is to think the opposite. Think outside the box. Think unconventionally and illogically. There is a chance that creativity will strike and you will come up with an entirely novel way of improving your marketing efforts and in increasing sales and profits.
Learn how to take constructive criticism
As an entrepreneur, you should be open to constructive criticism because getting this valuable feedback will open your eyes to different issues in your business and this can trigger your creative mind to start working to solve these problems that have been identified. So don’t get mad at people for giving you good criticism. Welcome such feedback and make it your strength instead.
Having a positive and grateful mindset will allow your creativity to thrive. Having much negativity in your life will block happiness, and you will not be able to get into a state of flow. Solutions do not turn up when you are ranting or complaining about something instead of thinking of solutions and taking action on your ideas.
Commune with Nature
Nature has this incredible power to regenerate our minds and soul. By taking walks in parks, you are communing with nature, and you get to refuel your creative juices. Nature also puts you into a grateful and serene state of mind which allows you to think more clearly so that you can become a better entrepreneur.