Creativity Lessons From Startups

Image by Grr West.

Creativity arises in the funniest places.

Whether we see ourselves as creative or not, we exercise our imaginations several times before breakfast. Don’t believe us? Look at the workforce. Yes, even the office is sodden with creativity. These days, digital start-ups are ruling the game of reinvention and resourcefulness. Entrepreneurial spirits thrive in environments that present new challenges, opportunities, and possibilities. With limited budgets, staffing, space, and time, these entrepreneurs depend on ingenuity to get through each workweek. Navigating unknown commercial territory requires a whole lot of – you guessed it – creativity. There’s a lot to be learned. Here are the few core lessons on creativity that we can learn from freelancers, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. All hail the inventors!

1. Blend Structure and Flexibility

There’s a Goldilocks quality to the perfect creative atmosphere: not too fluid, not too rigid, but just right. Creativity thrives in problem-solving settings. When an issue arises, approach it this way: instead of accepting the first logical answer or solution, push yourself (and your team) to analyse the situation and generate other approaches by exploring other possible solutions. This process is called divergent thinking. There are many approaches and styles of pulling this off in a group – see what works for yours!

2. Find Yourself a Sounding Board

The best entrepreneurs don’t just communicate information and ideas well – they receive it, too. Instead of keeping your head in the sand until a project is “perfected,” open yourself up to constructive criticism, suggestions, observations (and, of course, praise). Before committing to a final draft, seek input from others within and outside of your industry – this is the best way to test how well your work translates with different audiences! Keep your ears open and stay eager for feedback. Allows you to engage your critical thinking skills and see your own work with a fresh perspective.

3. Welcome Change

No one likes change, but no one has 100% control over their life. Change, though inevitable, make many of us skittish and unsettled. We face doubts and anxieties that the beaten path didn’t throw at us. This is where many small businesses differ from others: they face change with a grin rather than a grimace. They adapt. This doesn’t change your business’ purpose or direction: stay committed to your vision! Know what you want the future to be like. Choose your destination, but enjoy the potential detours as you approach it. Recognise opportunities to face change and create something fresh and new (rather than doing the same-old, same-old). Creativity isn’t just an ability, it’s an attitude. The best small businesses use it to their advantage.

4. Collaborate

Whether you’re a small office, a tech startup duo, or a freelancer flying solo, you can’t get far without relying on others. No one runs a company alone! Explore the power of networking and connecting with others. Collaborate with another creative or company, co-host a pop-up event, invite others in your industry to swap Instagram accounts for a week. Even simple collaborative efforts can build lasting relationships, build your credibility, and empower you to pursue new ideas.

5. Exercise Self-Discipline

Focus doesn’t always come naturally, and midday (or middle-of-the-week) slumps are killer for productivity and creativity. Don’t worry! We’re not suggesting you buy P90x or set your alarm for 5am – just find small ways to be more controlled. Setting an inspired personal standard with clear goals will help you be more efficient with your time and more expressive in your work! This will keep you aligned with your vision. Where to start? Write down a few positive habits you want to nurture and a few poor habits you want to change. For example, if you know you work best in the morning, prepare breakfast the night before and free up more of that time. If clutter distracts you, take one hour at the end of each week to tidy up your work space and prepare it for a fresh start on Monday! Remember, it takes at least a month to form a habit. On that note…

6. Keep Your Chin Up

Be patient with yourself! Crush negative self-talk and focus on the positive. When you’re paving the way in your industry, spearheading a new project, or tackling a new exhibition, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Long-term goals feel too long-term. Don’t bother with discouragement – in the creative world, determination is crucial! So keep perspective. At the end of each day, week, and month, take some of the pressure off and write down a few of your proudest achievements. Remember, hard work does – eventually – pay off.

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