Creativity and entrepreneurship

Creativity and entrepreneurship

When you think of creativity, do you think of artists or musicians or writers?

It’s true that people following artistic pursuits are creative – but every entrepreneur can be creative too!

Creativity and entrepreneurship

At GoForth, we define creativity as the ability to view the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated things, and to find solutions.

Creativity can be expressed as combining ideas or concepts to discover unique or new connections. It means merging previously discrete ideas, concepts or forms of thought, and coming up with something new.

Why is creativity important for entrepreneurs?

Let’s look at a couple of entrepreneurs who used creativity to change the world as they knew it.

In 1941 engineer George de Mestral returned from a hunting trip with his dog. He noticed the burrs that kept sticking to his clothes and his dog’s fur. Like a good engineer, he examined these burrs under a microscope. When he saw the hundreds of “hooks” that caught on anything with a loop, such as animal fur, he became inspired. He saw the possibility of binding two materials reversibly in a simple fashion. Velcro was born from the application of this concept in a new way.

In 1974, Art Fry was in church when he came up with the perfect use for a friend’s new adhesive. Fry sang in his church choir, using slips of paper to mark the pages of his hymnal. But when the book was opened these bookmarks often moved around or slipped out. One day, it occurred to him that his friend’s adhesive could be a great bookmark. If it could be coated on paper, it could hold a piece of paper in place without damaging the surface. And Post-It Notes were born!

Both inventors in these examples merged previously distinct forms to create a new combinations which had tremendous commercial application — they used their creativity to see everyday things in new and useful ways. 

Want to learn how to be more creative? Check out our blog post with ways to kick-start creativity.

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Using the Empathy Map to understand your customers

empathy map
(Click the image to zoom in)

Last week, we talked about the Empathy Map, a fantastic tool that helps you truly understand your customers, so you can more accurately deliver a product or service they’ll love.

This week, we’ll dive a bit further into the Empathy Map.

The empathy map has seven quadrants:

1. Who are we empathizing with?

Briefly define your typical or average customer here. You can give your customer a name, and briefly describe their characteristics like age, income and job as all well as their personalities or social status, their situation, and their role in the situation.

2.What do they need to do?

We are still in the Goal quadrant of the Empathy Map, so what do they need to change to reach their goal? What decisions do they need to make? What will trigger them to be successful, and how can we find out if they’ve succeeded?

3.What do they see?

What do they see in the marketplace? What do they see in their immediate environment? What do they see others saying and doing? What are they watching and reading? All this information is valuable to understanding their external stimuli, how this is affecting them, and how this might impact the decisions they make.

If you have empathy, you can talk to your customers and present them with solutions that will allow them to reach their goals.

4.What do they say?

What have we heard them say? What can we imagine them saying? What are their reactions? What are they talking about with friends, colleagues or family members?

5.What do they do?

What is their actual behaviour? How are they behaving and why? What can we imagine they may do?

6.What do they hear?

What do their friends, colleagues, and others say? What do they hear secondhand?

John Gay, an English poet back in the 1600s, wrote: “Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I understand.”

You can hear all you want, and you may be influenced by what others say, but you are convinced when you get involved. If you need to buy a car, you need to try the car, get involved with it, drive around to make a decision. Companies need to get involved with their customers. But for a customer to get involved with a company, the company needs to design great customer experiences. Empathy is key!

7. What do they think and feel (pains/gains)

What do they fear most? Are they frustrated, anxious, or even worried about their present situation? Identify their pain points. Then, identify their gains, their dreams, and hopes. What do they want? What are their pains and gains?

For more about the Empathy Map and how it can help your small business, check out Class 3 of our 100 Essential Small Business SkillsTM program!

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Small business blog posts we liked this week

Whether your small business is winding down or picking up, take some time to enjoy these small business blog posts and articles we’ve enjoyed recently. Read anything you liked? Let us know in the comments!

Waking Up at 5 a.m. Isn’t Enough to Make You a Successful Entrepreneur at Entrepreneur

How Two Leaders Use Hidden Storytelling Techniques To Inform And Influence at Forbes

Why Social Entrepreneurs Are So Burned Out at Harvard Business Review

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Changing your mindset about selling

small business negotiationAs all entrepreneurs know, selling is important! After all, how can you succeed if you’re not selling your product or service to new and existing customers? No matter your business, selling is at the heart of it.

But how do you actually close a sale? What is the best way to ask for business? It can be difficult for many entrepreneurs to imagine themselves closing a sale, or to even know where to start. Sometimes, this uncertainty can lead to poor sales and marketing strategies such as sending blanket, generic marketing messages, or being too pushy because we think we have to be.

It’s important to reframe your mindset about selling, in order to help you get more comfortable with it. Then, you can make more strategic sales and marketing decisions that make sense for your business – and you might even have fun doing it.

We recommend checking out GoForth Expert Marty Park’s advice on how to change your mindset about selling. We think it’ll help you to think about sales a little differently!

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How to kick-start your business creativity

home-based-small-businessDo you think you’re creative? No matter what you think, the answer is probably “yes!” We are all creative in our own ways, whether it’s viewing the world in new ways, finding hidden patterns, or making connections between seemingly unrelated things and finding solutions.

Creativity is the basis of innovation, and also the source of new products and services, new industries, new ways of doing business, new business opportunities and ultimately wealth creation. So, you can see why creativity is important for entrepreneurs.

Here are five ways you can fire up your own creativity and inspire great things for your small business.

Think in opposites
Sometimes, thinking about opposites can help you come up with a great business idea. When you’re able to hold two conflicting thoughts or outcomes in your head at once, you can often come up with creative ways to bridge the gap between the two – even if there doesn’t seem to be a connection. For example, clothing company Everlane could be said to think in opposites: What if clothing could be both ethically-made and affordable? To connect the two opposites, they adopted a strict e-commerce business model, reducing retail markups and cutting out the overhead necessary to run a brick-and-mortar store.

Have “think time” every day
For at least a few minute per day, unplug. Put your phone in the other room. Read, garden, go for a walk, go for a run, or sit and let your mind wander. Get into a routine of letting your brain loose every day — just not while you’re driving, please!

Be a kid again
When was the last time you played with Lego? Did a jigsaw puzzle? Looked for shapes in clouds? Built a sandcastle? Kids are masters at creativity because of how they play, losing themselves in imagination and coming up with amazing stories and ideas. They also can’t be dissuaded by “That’s not how it’s done” or “That won’t work” – they try anyway.

Write down all your business-related ideas
Don’t worry about how good, bad or strange your ideas might be. The key here is to set your mind free to develop a stockpile of ideas that might one day develop into something new or useful. Perfectionists, practice makes perfect here!

Practice!
Spending time each day in quiet contemplation may seem challenging or even counterproductive at first, but the more you practice, the easier it’ll be to draw upon your creativity when you need it. Try to “free associate” as much as possible.

See? Creativity isn’t always about being artistic. If you can only draw a stick figure, you’re still creative! Your small business will thank you.

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