While reading the chapter on Making Improvements in Steven Schussler’s It’s a Jungle in There, I started to think about the creative process and entrepreneurs. Schussler said “the creative process is not cut and dried like a scientific equation.” (Schussler) We can all agree with that. I was interested to know if entrepreneurs have an endless stream of ideas and what does one do when ideas seem few and far between. I also pondered if the loss of creativity ever entered the world of an entrepreneur.
In a search on Google, with loss, creativity, and entrepreneur as my key words, five articles came right up. Little did I know, losing creativity is one of the biggest fears of entrepreneurs. Online magazines from Forbes, INC., Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review, and Entrepreneur all had articles in the past four years about the fear of losing creativity. Creativity is the heartbeat of the entrepreneurs. It is what gets them up in the morning and what keeps them awake at night. Why? Imagine having an idea and seeing the business come to fruition and fill the need one first dreamed about. Now you must continue to keep that business going and adjusting to trends and market needs. I have a saying I use in the kitchen: “today for today versus today for tomorrow.” For the entrepreneur it is always “today for tomorrow”– what do I need to do, see, or adjust to keep my product/service as needed or wanted as when it first came out. In addition, what will the client want tomorrow — do you have an idea or the right ideas?
Maybe the ideas are not coming as fast as they used to. Maybe the circuits are too overloaded with the day to day of keeping the current business running- leaving little time to be creative.
Here are some suggestions to continually foster creativity from a variety of sources:
- Engage in activities outside of work that inspire you. Perhaps a walk outside in nature to recharge oneself. (Agius)
- Samantha Harrington, writing on forbes.com, suggests that you not only take a walk for an hour, but maybe a day or a week away from the situation at hand. Then brainstorm until a good idea comes and fear is gone. (Harrington)
- Write your fears down in a journal to try and transform them into action. Write down what you are afraid of and come up with 10 solutions for each fear. Innovative ideas may come out of the exercise. (Reynolds)
- David Cohen, Founder and CEO of TechStars, suggests looking at what is bugging you-the idea for a startup may come from that need. (Wall Street Journal)
- Victor W. Hwang, of T2 Venture, recommends stretching the brain by watching and listening to weird stuff. Listen to podcasts, travel to weird places and talk to weird people. (Wall Street Journal)
- Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group, tells us to get rid of the suit and tie because they belong to the old way of doing business and they stifle creativity. (Branson)
Here are my suggestions when creativity is lacking:
- Get in the car and go for a good long drive, roll the windows down, channel your inner musician and let the good times roll. You never know what you might see, hear, or learn on the trip and the fresh air will do you good.
- Take a long hot shower, actually that was my father’s suggestion; he said he did his best thinking in the shower.
- Stop, look, listen! Stop anywhere: work, home, shopping center, parking lot. Now look around: do you see a need that should be taken care of, do you see a problem — maybe there is an idea hiding among those needs and problems. Listen: when people talk to you listen, are they complaining about something, maybe there is a business idea there.
- Go to a bookstore. Go to a section you normally don’t go to and start looking at titles, open a few, look at the pictures — get inspired. Dream a bit in the travel section of the travel company you want to create for survivors of domestic abuse. Move over to the animal section and dream about the company that will create the first animal friendly vehicle for moving large numbers of dogs and cats during a weather crisis. How about a walk over to the autobiography section for some inspirational reading; there are plenty of stories to give you hope that creativity ebbs and flows even to the best and brightest.
- Do something outside of your comfort zone. Yesterday I ran my first 5k and it left me inspired. My business idea from the 5k was that I need something that can hold my phone and keys while I run.
If all else fails, take a nap. Check your sleeping patterns. Perhaps your brain is not getting the rest it needs.
Resources and Links:
Schussler, Steven It’s A Jungle In There. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2010.
“An Entrepreneur’s Biggest Fears (And How to Conquer Them)”, Forbes.com, Web 2016.
Web 29 Oct. 2016
“The 7 Fears All Entrepreneurs Must Conquer” Entrepreneur.com, Web 2016.
Web 18 Feb. 2016.
“The No. 1 Enemy of Creativity: Fear of Failure”, Harvard Business Review, hbr.org, 2012.
Web. 5 Oct. 2012.
“3 Common Fears of Entrepreneurs (and What to Do About Them)”, Inc.com 2016
Web 17 Oct 2016
“Freaking Out? 5 Ways Elizabeth Gilbert Deals Fear & Creativity,” huffingtonpost.com, 2015.
Web 20 Jul. 2015.
“How Entrepreneurs Come Up With Great Ideas”, wsj.com, 2013
Web 29 Apr. 2013.
“State of Entrepreneurship: Want to Be More Creative? Lose the Tie”, Linkedin.com, 2015.
Web. 8 Jun 2015.