When people think about creativity associations that come to mind are playing silly games, drawing with crayons and coming up with ideas on flipcharts that are so unrelated to real-life that it seems that they are just one big fantasy.
No wonder why many people dislike talk about creativity or even fear creativity.
Creativity requires uncertainty because it usually involves something that we have not done before. New ideas can be scary. And when one faces uncertainty fear increases: creative ideas can make one look foolish or lead you to doing something stupid. This is why it’s often better to get yourself in a relaxed state no matter what the circumstances to come up with new ways to solve important problems.
At www.ideaaccelerator.co.za we hardly ever talk about creativity, treating it cautiously so as not to put you off. The number of negative associations with the word and the process of creativity is a large field quite distinct from the world of innovation and particularly innovation in small business.
Even in larger corporations to position yourself as a creative person can severely impact your standing on the corporate ladder. Companies require incremental change and are quite fearful of the uncertainty that radical change brings. The larger companies look to the smaller start-ups to pioneer new business ideas or technology. Only then will they perhaps take a share of the company, placing a small bet on the future, so that they don’t get left behind.
Just take the example of Kodak which recently filed for bankruptcy. They came up with excellent digital camera technology but it took so many years to get into the market, held back by the vast layers of corporate bureaucracy, that they were eventually too late against the more nimble Japanese corporations, who through research and development were bringing out the best on the market and quickly. Let’s not forget that the personal computer was first developed by Xerox corporation. It took an entrepreneurial genius, Steve jobs, to introduce the personal computer and market it in a way that made sense to small business owners and private individuals.
People come up with ideas all the time. Quite often they don’t call this creativity. But merely idea generation. Just think about the course of a normal day in your life. How many times do you have to think about ways to solve problems whether it is your personal, family or business life. Just planning a weekend getaway can require coming up with ideas on who will look after the dog while you’re away, switch on the lights at night and feed the cat. If you’re out of options, you really have to think hard about coming up with ways to solve a problem and even force yourself to think of some that you hadn’t considered before.
In running a small business, creativity is like gold because you have to be innovative if you want to come up with products and services that are distinctly different from those already on the market. But the important point here is not to go so far out with your ideas that they have little practical value for your prospective customers. That’s why it’s important that you don’t always think of idea-driven start-ups and products and services but consider market-driven approaches to entrepreneurial ventures.
Products and services based on the early original ideas are often difficult to market to prospective customers because they are so radically different. This is why it’s often better to be a fast follower where you are able to ride on a market that has already been developed.
For instance, the company that introduces a new product on the market may not always be able to hold that market exclusively for any length of time. Imitators are quick to re-engineer the product, taking away the bells and whistles, and coming up with a product that can be used or made available to customers that have tight budgets. Take, for example, computer printers. The high-end ones have become so expensive that small businesses are looking for alternatives such as cartridge refills and buying second-hand computer printers. Several entrepreneurs spotted this opportunity and are supplying cartridge refill services as well as recycling new computer printers and selling them second-hand (with very generous guarantees).
Creativity certainly has its place but in the real world of business only new ideas that are implemented and can make money count. If you feel you’re blocked creatively or need to have a more playful mind to come up with or find ideas that can profit you in your business, it’s worth taking a look into.
For those business owners and people who want to generate ideas for new business ideas that lead to new products and services, www.ideaaccelerator.co.za specifically focuses on idea generation and the practical application for small and medium-sized businesses.
Here you’ll get no mumbo-jumbo. Just streetwise, business orientated idea generation tips and the best information from the school of hard knocks and trial and error.
PS You can learn more about generating new business ideas and innovation at www.ideaaccelerator.co.za.