(Google image used under a Creative Commons license)
Let’s get to the point. Being constantly creative as an entrepreneur is tough because whenever you do something different, you risk negatively impacting your company and team.
This risk is even higher as a startup founder with limited budget, bandwidth and time. The challenge is real and daunting. There is always more to do and less time to do it. I know this myself because I am a full-time entrepreneur bootstrapping my company with a small team. Putting my team at a high risk is the last thing I want to do. So how in the world do I make time for creativity and help other startups innovate?
The importance of creativity is all around us – in online articles, marketing materials, books, speeches and probably in your company’s mission statement.
Yet, I find that many of these resources touch only the surface when it comes to creativity. Where are the concrete pointers entrepreneurs need when they have very little time and energy to space?
As entrepreneurs, we already know the importance of creating something new when it comes to our business. However, what is not discussed enough is the importance of living with a creative mindset and how to see creativity beyond product development. If people are our most important asset, how are you investing in yourself as a person and the leader of your company?
I want to share some tips you can start doing today to make time for creativity in your life as a busy entrepreneur.
1. Do something different regularly in your routine.
It can be anything. The types of music you listen to, coffees you enjoy, events you attend, articles you read, and even the commute you take to work. Maybe even how you arrange your meetings. Set goals outlining what you want to achieve and when, such as listening to three different songs in a language you do not know, attending two events a week where you do not know anyone or reading up five articles on unfamiliar topics. When we make it a habit to expose ourselves to new things, we are naturally more curious, want to learn more and can tie this new information into new insights. It is easier for us to relate to new things. You probably became an entrepreneur partially because you probably love problem-solving. This new creative habit helps increase the amount of insights you draw on and widen your perspective. Make doing something different a routine, intentionally throw yourself into it, and see just how much your creativity grows.
2. Think about and experience things from new perspectives.
I do this regularly when I meet someone new. I think about the things they share and the things they choose not to. Why would they make this choice? Why do they pick certain phrases? What can I learn from them? Entrepreneurs, I know you are tempted to initially jump to thinking about how to make every new person buy your products or how they can help grow your company. Don’t limit your thinking! This exercise helps me reflect, be more understanding of others and learn about someone else’s perspective.
3. Ask More Questions. All The Time.
Your habit of asking questions and reflecting on the answers with wonder is a powerful skill. My recent favorite experience was a conversation I had with my mentee. We were sitting at an ice cream shop and she was sharing how she felt a lack of control in her everyday life. So I suggested we play a little activity. I asked her a few questions:
- When you walked into this store, how many people did you think this space was going to fit?
- Why did you feel that a $4 ice cream was not expensive?
- What did you think about the color of the space?
- What would you do differently if you were the business owner?
- How much ice cream do you think they have to sell to be profitable?
- How many people do they have to hire to maintain profits and provide good service without burning out their staff?
We immediately dove into reflecting and analyzing what the store did well, and what we could learn from this moment. And at the end I asked the ultimate question, how do you feel differently after these questions? She felt empowered and curious. Less than 15 minutes and a slew of questions was all it took to shift her mindset of feeling limited to feeling empowered and curious about the world around her.
As the leader of your company, if you took the time to incorporate tips like these into your life, wouldn’t you start to think differently? And inspire others to as well? How you approach creativity and innovation will signal to your team and company to do the same.
Are you someone who lives and integrates creativity into their life for the intrinsic benefits or just for the sake of product development? No matter how busy you are, I know trying these three things is possible.
Not only will you learn how to tap into your creativity more easily when you need it, but you will find that creativity helps you change stressful situations at work into opportunities to learn and grow. The amazing work you do with a touch of extra creativity will not only excite you, but your entire company.
So where will you start today?-30-
How an Arlington County high school is closing the gap in high tech
After the happily ever after: How to find balance as an entrepreneur and new mom
FELA to LifeCents: A lot more than a name change
This fast-growing SaaS company aims to be a force for change in the energy industry
A look back at #dctech over the last decade
Meet the second cohort of social impact entrepreneurs taking part in SEED SPOT’s accelerator program
Report: DC ranked No. 1 for entrepreneurial talent
Hear from the privacy pros at Security by the Schuylkill
Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Dc