If you’re a one-(wo)man band in business, it’s easy to get disheartened by what you can’t do. No marketing department to outsource to, no chief financial officer to say “yay” or “nay” (and, better yet, show you how to make something work financially), and no customer service department to take those difficult conversations off your hands.

But there’s one secret weapon that you have in business, no matter how micro your operation is. It’s totally free. And everyone’s got it. But not everyone’s using it.

I’m talking about creativity.

Creative business innovates

Please excuse the word innovates, but it’s the perfect word for my purpose: innovative businesses start trends, not follow them. They dream up possibilities and see opportunities where others see none.

Creativity in business means looking beyond what’s current to what’s next and anticipating people’s needs rather than only responding to them. Creative businesses aren’t seeking to be different for the sake of it – they can’t help themselves and they aren’t concerned about others’ opinions (or at least, concerned enough to let that stop them).

Creative marketing

Creativity in marketing is absolutely essential. It’s the difference between the government’s idiotic stoner sloth campaign:

And the Queensland government’s ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign which generated more than $70 million in publicity.

best job in the world

Creativity costs nothing.

In fact, having a restricted budget normally helps provoke creativity, not restrict it – think about when you’ve been in a situation where your choices are far fewer – you were forced to think creatively.

As the beige brigade continues to take over Instagram, nightclubs, main street fashion, and the suburbs, creative marketing is not ‘a nice to have’, it’s a necessity. 

For you to be seen and heard, you must stand out.

stand out marketing

Creative problem solving

Creativity is also essential for problem solving in business. Need to learn how to use Xero but can’t afford it? What about swapping your services? Looking for publicity but have nothing but product to spend? How about giving away your products or services in prizes for competitions?

Looking to meet potential prospects? How about seeking a contract in a training institution so that you’re potentially one of the first people in the industry they meet?

Solving problems is what doing business is all about – and there’s likely to be 6,967 solutions to that problem you’ve got that you haven’t yet canvassed.

How to be more creative

I believe that creativity is inherent – we are all creative, but some people use it and others don’t. Creativity is a practice and, like all skills, you need to actually do it to get good at it.

Here’s some of my favourite practices to increase your creativity in business:

Take a different route

We are creatures of habit. Take a different route. Never go out on a Tuesday night? Go out. Always order the soup? Get the sandwich.

Use a timer

Think something is impossibly difficult and requires lots of time? Rubbish. Use a timer. Set a short deadline. Nothing beats a little pressure to get those creative juices pumping.

Do the opposite

What would you normally do in a given situation? If something is feeling stale or it used to work for you but it isn’t any more, then it’s time to do the opposite.

Go outside

Take your laptop outside (no, not the beach. Sand and laptops don’t mix.) Avoid the wifi. Leave your phone at home. Try a pencil and paper. Enjoy the grass underfoot and wind in your hair. Avoid the ants.

Take a long shower

There’s something about running water … I often get out of the shower busting to write down the brilliant ideas I’ve just had.

Stop talking, start writing

Talking can be really useful. The problem is, in business we often mistake talking for action. Writing, on the other hand, helps you think through something, form an opinion, solicit feedback from clients and prospects and LAUNCH already.

Do what scares you

It’s easy to avoid being scared (see previous point – we are creatures of habit). There’s a lot of stress and pressure in business already, so why add to it by doing what scares you? Because it’ll bust out some serious bravery and bravery empowers creativity. Ever seen a brilliant artist who played it safe? Didn’t think so.

Creativity killers

  1. Thinking you’re not creative.
  2. Over-scheduling your time.
  3. Constantly having background noise like television or music.
  4. Getting really articulate about why you don’t support or believe in something (which secretly, you think might be a good idea).
  5. Avoiding writing.
  6. Never daydreaming.
  7. Spending too much time comparing your business unfavourably to others.
  8. Soliciting for feedback on your business on social media with no discernment.
  9. Swallowing your opinion.
  10. Listening to others’ opinions who a) aren’t your ideal client and b) haven’t done what you want to do in your business.

Isn’t it time you got creative?

Think you’re not creative? Or want to learn how to channel your creativity into marketing strategy? Then it’s time for the highly creative, strategic and (let’s not forget) fun Blogging for Business course.