Business development 22 December 2016

Unlocking a creative mindset in your small business

creative
Every company owner can bring a more creative mindset to their business

Writing for Business Advice, head at Now Go Create and author of In Your Creative Element, a new book about a creative mindset in business, Claire Bridges, tells small business owners how best to get the creative juices flowing in their small teams.

There are certain characteristics that are common to people who are able to deliver creatively. You don’t need all of them to come up with brilliant ideas, but the more you have the more likely it is you will have more, and better, ideas.

I know this because I’ve just spent the last two years researching the creative mindset of people.

The book In Your Creative Element identifies 62 “creative elements” that are at play during the creative process, and ten are grouped together in a chapter called about the characteristics of people with a creative mindset, looking into the operating systems of creative individuals.

Bringing a creative mindset to business is something every company owner is capable of with effort and practice. We might not all be the next Steve Jobs, but we can certainly up our game considerably by embracing these five things key traits.

Openness

Openness refers to how receptive someone is to new experiences and ideas and it’s essential if you want to be creative. A good way to gauge your current levels of openness is to ask yourself how many things you do as a matter of routine.

Do you always take the same walk from the train to work? Do you order the same lunch every day? Do you always ask for the same drink at the pub? How do you feel when people question your ideas at work or challenge a point of view?

Even people who consider themselves to be pretty receptive to new ideas can be quite shocked by their answers to these questions as it’s common for people to settle into patterns that don’t stretch us.

Many people quietly enjoy this state of effortless familiarity because it’s comfortable. But if you want to be creative, you need to test yourself. Which means seeing new things, meeting different people and developing new skills.

It also means putting your ego to one side from time to time to consider that other people’s ideas might actually be better than yours and be prepared to work with these ideas and make them even better.

Rebellion

If you want your ideas to knock people for six, one way to proceed is to rip up the rulebook. You might need a dash of an element I’ve called rebellion, and it’s something that Rupert and Claire Callender, the husband and wife team behind Devon-based The Green Funeral Company, have in spades.

In a nutshell, they do funerals differently to everyone else. They said: “We want to challenge absolutely everything about the funeral industry. We do not have a fleet of hearses and limousines. We do not employ bearers. We do not consider faux-Victoriana and a mournful expression to be an assurance of respect and dignity. We have buried generals and Lords, but we approach each funeral as unique.”

Ask yourself what “rules” in your industry you could challenge or break in such a way as to benefit you and your business.

Imagination

There is a child-like beauty to an imagination that has been allowed to run free. Think of the works of Lewis Carroll, whose Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland said: “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”

In real life, we can get so bogged down by analysing data and hitting deadlines that we forget how important Imagination can be to the creative process.

Pose a problem to your unconscious mind and let it wander unbidden into the unknown when you are on the train each morning or brushing your teeth before bed and you’ll start to add fibre to your creative muscle. Do things that stimulate your imagination too – visit an exhibition, watch a different genre of movie, seek new experiences.

Vision

Without vision, even great ideas will never get further than a scribble on a whiteboard. But a vision also needs to be fluid, because obstacles will occur during an idea’s journey. A skilled creative can navigate these and build on the idea as the project develops.

The best visionaries are able to let a concept or campaign mutate as it grows, the idea ebbing and flowing with an ever-changing tide of technology, cultural influences and client demands.

Failure

Failure. What possible place could failure have in the mind of a creative powerhouse? Failure is actually one of the most essential ingredients in the creativity mix. More specifically, creative people know and accept that failures are an essential and inevitable part of the process.

Didn’t Thomas Edison once say that “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. So how can you embrace failure at work today?

Answer – you can’t. No one’s recommending that you deliberately fail at something on purpose. Instead, accept that failure is lurking in the shadows and then, when it strikes, to learn from it and emerge stronger on the other side. As one of my colleagues said: “if you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”

Claire Bridges is author of In Your Creative Element

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