My wife and I own a small business that makes prepared meals for people on their way home. All they have to do is heat the oven for the stated temperature and pop it in for a stated amount of time. Viola, they have a home-cooked meal.
My wife, on a certain occasion, asked me to make corn muffins (yes, we live in the south and cornmeal is a staple here). But when I pulled them out of the oven, they were flat. What a disaster. They were ruined.
Now I tell you, I have made this recipe at least 100 times without a failure. My wife asked if I forgot an ingredient. Of course, I said no what ingredient would I forget? She asked me if maybe I forgot baking soda. The answer to that is a resounding yes even though I just muttered something unintelligible.
I’m telling you about my massive failure which led to the corn muffins being tossed because I think we small business owners forget an ingredient also, creativity.
No one likes to admit they forgot creativity because they don’t believe all the mundane task they perform for their small business has anything to do with creativity.
Remember, if we leave an ingredient out, then our recipe for success fails.
First, let’s understand what I mean by creativity.
The definition of creativity.
Creativity is “the ability to transcend ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, and imagination”.
In other words, creativity gives us permission to paint outside the lines.
Creativity is the process where we can actually learn something and become more productive at the same time. I really missed this all together for almost 11 years. No, I have missed this for most of my life because creativity was something that my parents, bosses, teachers and everyone, except my wife, kind of brushed aside.
Well, let me tell you about my experiment with creativity so you can better understand what I am talking about.
I really dread doing the financial statements for my business. It is boring and takes a lot of time.
So, one day I asked myself a question. How could I do the financial statements faster?
There must be some way to get them done without a lot of time, but still accurate. I had been doing them every month for 11 years. I was thinking about outsourcing but that cost money and would still take a lot of my time to set it up and make sure they were accurate.
I thought about it a lot and decided that I should combine like transactions. You see I was posting them individually when I could make a large once a month post.
I tried my idea and guess what it cut the process down so that it took me only 2 hours. Less than 20% of the time it took for 11 years. By doing each transaction one at a time I was actually compounding the time it took to perform the overall task.
Man, what a dumbbell. But I was so elated that I look forward to doing the financials each month and we get them so quickly we can actually tweak our business for the next month.
I must say this is a revelation that has changed my life for the better.
How creativity affects your small business.
The lessons I have learned about using creativity in everything I do has opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities that I never dreamed could be changed.
I look forward to going to my job every day and changing something I do to make my life and work enjoyable again. Think about what you could do to change your daily, monthly and yearly task so you don’t stay in the same rut I have been in for years.
Ask yourself questions like:
· How can I pay the bills all at once every month?
· How can I increase revenue and/or decrease expenses?
· What can I do to engage with my customers more and earn their trust?
· How can I increase traffic to my website?
· How can I convert more prospects into customers?
The answers to these and many more questions lie in your use of creativity.
Everyone knows the technical everyday answers to these questions, but ask yourself how can I create meaningful ideas that will help me shine above my competition so that I can be successful, and my business can be sustainable?
Empower your creativity into your small business.
First, make creativity a daily task in your working process.
I usually draw up a to-do list first thing that I want to get accomplished that day. Then I ask myself how I can do each task better, faster, automatic or outsource it?
Sometimes, I find I have already recently changed how I do something, so I take a few minutes to analyse the results. Did it work as I expected, or do I need to tweak it again to make it better?
I have found there is lots of room for improvement. It might be a project that has to wait until I can squeeze it in our budget. Other times I find I can make the changes quickly and start using the new way today.
My point here is to get started and be open to new ideas that can be used to improve an old way that has outlived its life. Get out of that “I have always done it this way” rut.
Closing up this idea of using creativity more in our small business.
The answer to the original question “Is creativity the missing ingredient in your small business?” is a resounding yes. It could very well be the ingredient that helps you to survive and be successful.
Is every idea you try going to work? No, it didn’t for me. But knowing that I have the power over my business is one that gets me out of bed and to work every day.
So, I urge you to try making creativity a part of your everyday process because it is an area that is so motivating that it is on my mind all the time because the rewards are so high.