Sometimes in business you have to be creative in order to get ahead. Whether you’re trying to come up with a TV commercial that stands out and really captures your target audience’s attention, create a direct mail piece that doesn’t wind up in the trash before it’s even read, or solve any other of your greatest business-related problems, a little creativity can go a long way.
Certainly, some people are more creative than others and seem to have ideas popping out of their head non-stop. But what if you’re not one of them? Or, what if you normally are, yet seem to have hit a creative dry spell?
It all starts with figuring out how to spark your own creativity, and there are many options to consider. (As a side note, although these suggestions are provided to help you boost your own creativity, they can also be used within your small business to help your employees think more creatively too, so feel free to share them or use them in groups.)
Allow Yourself to Brainstorm
If you’re the kind of person who constantly finds yourself thinking about ideas, but instantly shooting them down for a variety of reasons, brainstorming may be just what you need to get in touch with your creative side. Whatever it is that you’re struggling with or whatever problem you’re trying to solve, sit down and make a list of all of the things you can do to resolve it or make it better.
The key here is to not get caught up in the logistics or semantics. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think something will actually work. If it enters your mind, just write it down. Sometimes the best ideas aren’t the most logical or easiest to execute, so don’t shoot something down just because it’s different or would be hard, or any other excuse you might be able to think of as to why it wouldn’t work.
See What Others Are Doing
When you’re truly stuck on something, sometimes you just need to open your mind to the possibilities that exist, and one way to do this is to sit in front of your computer and do a little research. For instance, if you’re having an issue because one of your employees is always late, but they’re a really good employee otherwise so you don’t want to let them go, Google “how to deal with late employees” and see what others are doing or suggest.
You might just come across an article or blog that makes you think, “Yes! I can do that and it would work out perfectly!” Or, you might also read something that makes you say, “Well, that wouldn’t work if I did it that way, but if I tweak it just a little bit, that would solve my problem completely!” Either way, you win and you didn’t even have to come up with the solution entirely on your own.
Imagine You’re a Customer Who’s Never Used Your Business Before
Because you’re immersed in every aspect of your business, it’s easy to lose sight of how your customer feels when using your products or services, making it harder to come up with new and effective ideas. Therefore, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, suggests that you “go through the process of purchasing your own product or service—as a real consumer would—and record the experience.”
This exercise can help you see some of the areas that you can improve, with regard to customer service or products and services, possibly triggering some ideas as to how you can do it in a different, yet still effective way. It will also show you areas in which you are strong, so you can think of ways to highlight these as well, giving your customers an even more stellar experience.
It’s not uncommon to see small business owners work feverishly on something, not stopping until they’ve got it figured out. I know I tend to be that way myself from time to time. While having a great deal of perseverance and never stopping can definitely help you excel in business, this can also hurt you. Sometimes you’re able to become more creative if you just walk away for a few minutes and give your mind a break.
When I’m really struggling with an article, or can’t seem to find the right words, I throw on my tennis shoes and head out for a walk. I find the fresh air and sunshine set my mind free and, usually within minutes, all of these great ideas are flooding my mind. By the time I return to my desk and sit down to write, I am ready to type up a storm. Do this when you feel stuck too, and you’ll likely see the same type of positive effects.
These are just a few options to consider, but what types of things have you found to spark your own creativity? I’d love to hear them (and possibly even try them), so feel free to share them below!
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