How can creativity be harnessed for business success? continue to do the same thing every day and hope to remain competitive. In business as well as in life, change is not a choice, it’s a must. The options are very clear; innovate or die!
If there’s one aspect of business that can potentially increase your odds of keeping up with change as an entrepreneur, it is the creative side of your business.
Why do I make such a claim?
Being in business is all about meeting the needs and solving the problems of a particular set of people. These people are known as your target customers.
They have needs that arise as a result of certain problems they have and are in search of products/services that will solve their problems. These needs are always changing with time. Meaning, what may be considered as a need today, may turn out to be unnecessary tomorrow.
Success goes to the business and entrepreneur that not only keep up with these changes, but is also capable of pioneering some of these changes by constantly creating innovative products/services that eventually shapes the needs of the market.
A business is only able to achieve this through an unwavering dedication to creativity.
What does it mean to create?
To create means to come up with something new which never existed before and has the capacity of positively affecting lives. You must bear in mind when creating that what you want to create must benew [unique] and can positively affect lives [useful].
Creativity is the essence of entrepreneurship. Meaning, an entrepreneur is nothing without creating. Products/services don’t fall from the sky like manna, they are created. And the one person that must bear the burden to create is no other than you the entrepreneur.
As Michael E. Gerber, author of ‘E-myth Mastery‘ rightly puts it;
“The entrepreneur takes shape through the act of invention. If there is no invention there is no entrepreneur. If there is no entrepreneur there is no invention. The two are inextricably bound. The substance of the entrepreneur, his worth as an entrepreneur, is determined by the substance of his invention.”
So, your task as an entrepreneur is to engage in a never ending process of creation by forming a creative habit. It is only through the habit of creating that the entrepreneur masters the art of creation.
Creation (making new and better things) must never be confused for execution (getting things done). Your work as an entrepreneur is not about execution but about creation; seeking to do what never existed before and not just seeking to get things done.
To create requires the entrepreneur to go with his/her imagination. It doesn’t matter if there’s an existing need for what is being created or not. Committing to the habit of creation must be the entrepreneur’s work.
Steve Jobs of Apple Corporation didn’t wait for the market to request for an iPod or an iPhone, he went ahead to create what he believed long before the market ever thought they would be needing it. The whole world didn’t know their information needed to be organized until Google came along and changed everything.
The key thing to note here is that entrepreneurs are driven by the passion to create something that never existed before not necessarily because of a need that must be met (although this is equally important) but because of the joy they get from creating.
It’s the joy of creation that makes entrepreneurs persist even when the world laughs at their idea. They don’t wait for the world to approve what they feel should be created; they simply go wherever their heart leads.
This habit of ‘going with the flow’ is what enables them to create what never existed before. They realize one simple truth about our world and they exploit that truth to the fullest.
That simple truth is this; creation is not a human effort, it’s a spiritual exercise being done through the human body.
Entrepreneurs realize that creation is not a thing we humans do or can ever be able to do, but that it’s a thing done through us. They see themselves as the medium through which creation must happen. Knowing this makes it easy for them to submit completely like a child to the creative process not knowing where their imagination can lead them, yet never obstructing the urge to follow through.
They have an unwavering faith that at the end of the process something new which never existed before will be created. So they commit to the process wholeheartedly relishing every moment as the unknown keeps unfolding before them. Trusting the creative flow (passion) and committing to thecreative process (practice) is what being an entrepreneur means.
As entrepreneurs, we must never refuse to begin simply because we have no reason. If all men waited for a reason before they begin, there wouldn’t be anything made. The goal of creation is to surprise the creature; that feeling of amazement of how the creation (idea, vision or opportunity) turns out.
Focus on the creation of the vision, idea or opportunity you have and let its usefulness (purpose) follow. You will never fully know until you’re willing to begin.
Vision, that image of experiencing the birth of something which didn’t exist before is what should inspire you as an entrepreneur to create. It’s in the pursuit of vision (idea or opportunity) that we fulfill purpose (find meaning). It’s in the process of creating the idea we have in mind that the purpose is revealed. Without committing to the process of creation by pursuing the vision, idea or opportunity we see, we’ll never realize the reason for the creation.
How do you create?
Practice creation. Form the habit of coming up with something out of nothing. Become like a child again; invent play!
You find the power to create something through the practice of that thing.
You create a book by forming the habit of reading a book and practicing writing.
You create music by forming the habit of listening to music and practicing playing music.
The power to create doesn’t come from practice, it comes from you.
But why practice then?
Practice is your signal to the universe that you’re ready to create.
Practice says to the universe; “I’m prepared; make me an instrument for creation!”
How do you know the universe will answer?
Form the habit and commit to the practice first, keep doing it over and over, only then will you know.
You will know only when you’re not afraid to begin. You will only begin to know only after you begin to act!
Balancing Creativity With Innovation
The entrepreneur must also be careful while creating to ensure that what is being created will someday be needed. This can be somewhat hard to tell from the beginning because an idea is never fully matured, it keeps unfolding with every additional step you take to make it a reality. This is the difference between invention and innovation.
An idea that is unique is an invention, but an idea that is both unique and useful is an innovation. This is a very crucial fact that must never elude you as you strive to deliver change. Efforts must be made towards integrating usefulness into every unique idea.
A good way to do this is to form the habit of asking yourself this question; “how is this idea going to make the world a better place for someone?”
By constantly questioning the idea, this keeps you in the creative process long enough for the idea to reveal its intrinsic usefulness – potential value of invention.
So no matter how unique [new] an idea may be, keep in mind that unless its time has come, itsusefulness [potential value] will be the lesson, knowledge and experience you gained from undergoing the creative process. This shouldn’t stop you from pursuing another idea just because one or two or more didn’t work out; rather, this should propel you to continue because with every failed idea created through you, the closer you get to creating the one that will work.
Google for instance, has launched several products such as knol; a unit of knowledge, jaiku; a micro blog etc. that wasn’t as successful as the search engine or Gmail. But they kept on trying and now the result has paid off with their latest project google+
The point here is this; it’s not the number of ideas that didn’t work that counts, but the habit of consistently creating unique ideas. As an entrepreneur, your task is to create ideas whether they work or not is left to the market to decide.
The real failure is not an idea that didn’t work, but rather not being able to come up with any idea at all. The only way to test if an idea has intrinsic usefulness is by creating it. You cannot know the eventual outcome of an idea until you commit and complete the process of creating the idea. That uncertainty will always be present. This is the joy of the entrepreneurial mindset; not knowing completely how it will turn out. That’s why it’s called magic; the joy of discovery!
Over to you
How have you been managing the creative side of your business? How do you create? Have you ever been caught in creating something unique but didn’t turn out as useful as you had imagined? How has your creative ability helped to sustain your business?