In the beginning stages of our business, there was a lot of time and space to generate new ideas on how to make it grow. After our business framework and systems were established and the profits started to climb, we reached a point where innovation was replaced by efficiency and implementation.
From budgeting to managing staff and vendors, we were running on auto-pilot from one task to another and getting caught up in the machine of managing the business. Eventually, operating in a pattern of "business as usual" was flat-lining our profits. We knew that we could not address the challenges of growth in a logical way, we had to be more creative if we wanted to go to the next level.
We saw this setback as an opportunity for us to reclaim the creativity that inspired us to start the company in the first place. Creativity is an art and cannot be forced. When we applied a very simple formula to draw out genius ideas, our company had a huge change not only in revenue and profits but also in the joy of creating and being inspired to continue our growth.
If you want to inspire yourself with fresh ideas to grow your business, try these three steps to approach challenges in a creative way that may just lead to an unexpected brainchild that could create a massive impact on your bottom line.
1. Plant the Seed
Give yourself some time in your day to focus on cultivating innovative ideas to grow your company. Commit a few minutes a day to stop and ask yourself one key question that you are currently struggling with to find a solution in your business. You are not solving a problem at this stage, you are simply just setting up a question--planting the seed for a new idea to arise from your mind.
Here are some examples of questions you can use:
· How can I improve profits on this product?
· What does my customer want that I am not seeing?
· What resources do I need to solve X problem?
· How can I drive more sales?
· What is a good tagline for this product?
In trying to find a name for our new brand, we came up empty using all the traditional marketing naming exercises. We decided to let go and just ask the question, "What is the name of our new brand?" and let it float out there in the ether. Within a few days, the perfect name came to us and it seemed so obvious that we couldn't believe we missed it. The next steps were critical in allowing our brand name to find us.
Allow insights to come to you without forcing them or editing them. Creativity is chaotic, messy and unorganized. After you ask the question, don't expect an immediate answer. Be patient. This step is about allowing the question to be there without your logical mind trying to capture an answer and packaging it into a neat box. The challenge here is to let go of the control of when the answer or creative solution arises. The more you try to force the answer, the less creative and rigid your mind will become.
This is the most difficult step because it is hard to be patient when you are attached to finding the answer. What helps to cultivate patience is to fall in love with the question itself. To loosen up your creative juices, close your eyes and be the witness as the bubbling up of that unsettled mind sits with the open-ended question.
You will notice after just letting it be chaotic and unorganized without fixing it, the mind starts to calm down and relax into a more open and fluid thought pattern on its own. The question has been planted and the soil is now fertile for inspiration to emerge.
The best creative ideas will come to you indirectly. The answer to your question will arise spontaneously such as seeing a billboard, talking to a person unrelated to your field, when your mind is wandering or daydreaming or even in the form of strange dreams. The bottom line is that the creative answer will find you, you don't need to grasp so hard for it.
Some amazing inventions came in the form of serendipity, which is an unexpected outcome or "happy accident." For example, Apple's founder Steve Jobs created the typeface that all computers use today from taking a calligraphy class in college at a time when he was lost and searching for his purpose in life. Viagra was discovered through research on Heart Disease. Life-saving Penicillin was discovered when mold formed on lab samples while the scientist was away on vacation.
Overall, the only task you have to do is to ask the right question and be open to the answer coming to you in a creative way. The less pressure you put on yourself to be creative, the more innovative you will be. Simply remaining receptive and aware of those happy accidents will give you more ideas to take your business to the next level.