Creativity vs. Innovation

In the landscape of startups.

Alec Zaffiro
Mar 15, 2018 · 3 min read
Image created by AZ


It’s something we recognize, yet we treat it like some magic spectral — as if it’s mystical fairy dust, allowing people to become smarter and have “brighter” thoughts.

Even in plain writing, it sounds completely abstract.

To me, it’s straightforward: creativity is a drive within the mind. Some of us have it; most need more of it. Although creativity is damn-near essential to startups, it’s not everything.

Innovation is far more important.

Herein lies the key to Entrepreneurship.

First, let’s recognize the difference between creativity and innovation. In the simplest form, creativity is thinking and innovation is doing. A fine line exists between the two.

Creativity happens in your head.

Innovation happens in the world.


Let’s say you want to start a food truck business.

You spend weeks, months, years imagining and conceptualizing ways to run this company. You’ve thought up elaborate designs, unique ways to market yourself, and of course, you envision the food being out of this world!

You see the truck. You see yourself in it. You see the happy customers. And, most of all, you see the profits!

While it’s great you’ve taken the time to consider the business, it’s only in your head — you’ve got a “creative” idea and that’s it. Notice, if you stop here, you’ve got absolutely nothing. No food, no truck, no customers.


Creativity alone cannot start a business for you. It should, however, act as a motivator to make your ideas a reality.

Innovation is the force behind creativity.

Innovation is doing; innovation is applying. Every step you take to implement all those awesome ideas you mustered up represents innovation.

Once you establish your truck’s name, manufacture a distinct product, and serve your first customer in a way no one else can, that’s when you’ve officially innovated and made use of your creativity.

A fine line, yet a monumental difference.

Why You Need ‘Em

Both creativity and innovation play into any new business venture. Entrepreneurship revolves around new, useful solutions to our everyday problems.

Notice the emphasis on “new.”

All startups must look to differentiate. If there’s no variation from the established market, why would anyone want your product or service?

What if you drove down the street later today and saw “McDonalds 2”? Would you go there? (Possibly out of sheer curiosity, but otherwise no) It’s obsolete.

No new value has been created.

To develop unique value, you need to be original. You need creativity, to some degree, in order to set yourself apart.

But How?

Often times, I hear people say:

“Well I’m just not a creative person. I’ve never been, it’s not in me.”

And then I want to reply back, “Obviously.”

When people look at creativity as some innate, exquisite gift, it feels out of reach for them. This squanders imagination from the get-go and it kills creativity before it can even sprout.

To complicate it even more, scientists and researchers have conjured up formulas, anatomical studies (left brain, right brain) and exercises to make people “more creative.” It’s become a complex theory.

I don’t buy any of it! Not one bit. To me, it’s simple:

If you want to be creative, allow yourself to be.

Get rid of your mental blocks. Stop downplaying your ideas. Take your intuitions and run — look at them, work at them, and build with them.

Open yourself up to creativity; you may be surprised at what you find. Then apply it in the real-world and make things happen.

- AZ

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 306,472+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Join The Startup’s +741K followers.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +741K followers.

Alec Zaffiro

Written by

Bored, uneducated, homeless — em dashes are my specialty. I write what I see, think, and feel. That’s it.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +741K followers.