Founder, sole-ntrepreneur, entrepreneur, consultant are all roles, which require creativity, along with a healthy dose of courage, stubbornness and can-do attitude.
We need creativity in our thinking and approach to build our business. But when we are a team of one with no one else to bounce off, how can we keep fuelling our creativity?
Here are five practical ideas:
1) Become obsessive about fuelling thinking
Creativity is really ‘just’ ideas and all ideas are, are thinking. So how can we fuel our thinking? Fuel can come from any source. Sir John Hegarty – the ‘H’ in BBH, one of the world’s biggest ad agencies – reads the Economist every month. Not the typical reading material of a creative director, but he says it helps him to be more creative and make connections he otherwise wouldn’t make.
Try to take your fuel from different places to your competition. Reading the same industry articles will keep you in the same groupthink. One source of inspiration for my training material is the Sunday papers.
There is nothing more boring then using the same obvious well-worn examples… Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey et al.
The papers provide fresh and interesting people stories to bring the material to life.
2) Where you do your best thinking?
Work it out and redesign your day and do more of it there. My diary is planned around my thinking: work which requires creativity I do first thing and schedule business meetings for the afternoon, when my brain is not as creative. Running inspires my thinking. I go out with no agenda and invariably come back with my best ideas. It is my creative exercise; the busier I get the more important it is to unlock myself from behind my laptop and run.
3) 10 ideas a day.
Creativity is all about practise. James Altucher, the writer and entrepreneur suggests coming up with 10 ideas a day.
Pick a challenge, and then write 10 ideas to solve it. One of my recent lists was “How Can I improve my Millennial book that I am writing?” I wrote 10 ideas. By idea six it was getting hard. But, this is not about the quality of ideas instead it is about the discipline and training your creative muscle. Interestingly for me none of the ideas were that good, however the day after I thought of a new concept about which I am really excited. It means a rewrite but hey! I am sure this was a hangover from the idea session the previous day.
I also refer back to my idea notebook when I am stuck, there are often nuggets of ideas I have had already which can work for other things.
4) Drop the note.
Super simple: all that is required is a pack of Post-it notes, a pen and space to walk around and create a mess. Walk and write one idea on each Post-it and then drop the post it on the floor. Repeat over and over till you are out of thoughts. This generates creativity because it enables your brain to access new thoughts by moving and removing the last idea out of your mind.
When we get stuck in our thinking it can help to look at what we are assuming?
I worked at Nokia pre iPhone; we assumed that a phone needed to have a keypad, need I go on?
Little Miss Mismatch created a business out of selling socks in threes. Of course we have two feet, so socks are sold in twos but Little Mismatch created a business out of selling them in threes because they found people wanted choice and creativity when picking their socks for the day.
So, write down all the possible assumptions you are making in your thinking and ask yourself: what would you do if this was not true?
And finally – the more you create, the more ideas you have.
Jenny Williams is an ICF accredited Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and Enneagram Practitioner; specialising in the marketing, creative and media industries. She spent 17 years working client side, rising to the position of Global Campaign Director at Nokia before retraining. Follow her on Twitter @jenfi.