By Lizl Naude, founder of Lilly Loompa
When I get a creative idea, it feels like the inside of my brain is having a fireworks display. Little pockets of colour and excitement explode non-stop and the only way to calm this euphoric sensation is by executing my idea. Sometimes it is easy to bring the idea to life, sometimes the execution becomes an experiment. Either way, I love this process. It allows me to explore unchartered territory, or even unusual ways of doing things.
In business, creativity is non-negotiable. In fact, I would dare to say…you cannot build a successful business or brand without it. I believe many businesses struggle because they have not struck a balance between good business practices and creativity. Not just creativity in the sense of a creative product, but applying creative thinking and creativeness in every area in business.
It is imperative that we constantly find creative ways of selling and building our brand. If we want to stand out from the crowd, we need to be different. Being different requires ingenuity. Standing out sometimes means swimming upstream.
A great example of constantly applying creativity in business is the Sir of business himself - Richard Branson. He has built an empire based on creativity and resourcefulness.
Let’s look at the word, creativity:
Creativity - the ability to create; the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness
Guess from which source I derived the above meaning? You guessed it, Google! One of the most creative companies of the modern-day world.
In my own business, I have to constantly look at new and creative ways of growing my brand and business.
Let us look at 6 easy ways of boosting creativity in your business...
1. Creative thinking
Take time during the day and dedicate it specifically to creative thinking. A practical example could be to keep an idea box. Write down your ideas (even if they seem far-fetched), and regularly re-visit them. Keep this box in a communal area and encourage your employees to use this system to also encourage team spirit. Do not allow the box to gather dust! Open it at your weekly team meetings and try to apply at least one of these ideas per month. You could also keep it anonymous to refrain from judgmental tendencies.
2. Play area
Dedicate a communal area in your office for them to relax and “play” in. Make it as interesting and stimulating as possible with bold wall colours and comfortable seating. A great example of this is again Googleplex in California. It is a place of complete delight and bliss. According to research, creating an interesting environment for staff members will also decrease absenteeism. Research also shows that mental breaks and playtime increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.
3. Revisit product/service
Revisit your product or service and gauge it in the market. Study your competitors as well as general businesses who are reaching success in the market. Come up with new ways of selling your product to the market. I recently visited Expresso, South Africa’s first R10 coffee shop. It is a brilliant concept that sells great quality coffee and pastries at only R10 per serving! I immediately fell in love with the brand as I find comfort in the fact that everything in store is R10. As a consumer I could feel the tangible generosity of the brand as I am receiving great value, at a great price!
4. Give them web-time
Yes! Allow them to play on the internet for a certain amount of time per day to research sales strategies and study the brand giants. Web platforms like Google and YouTube can be very resourceful to small businesses especially. We all use the phrase “Google it”. Although we do not encourage employees to spend hours upon hours playing senselessly on the internet, your business and sales can benefit exponentially from this exercise, done within limits.
5. Appoint a CCO (Chief Creative Officer)
Give this informal title to your most creative employee. This is not a formal job position. It gives room for the staff member to constantly seek creative solutions. This could be a roving title as it spreads the responsibility and also motivates team spirit. Allow this person regular access to different departments to see how the operations work. This promotes transparency and allows them to find creative suggestions for streamlining operations and sales.
6. Forget about budget
Yes, I said it…forget the numbers! Do not let the lack of money and resources dampen your ideas or strategy. Most small business owners struggle with working capital and this can be quite disheartening. You are not alone…cheer up! Instead opt to implement the same idea with the money and resources available. If the idea is really good and you see benefit in it, try and raise the money to roll it out. Or put it on the back burner till you have the cash!
Because I sell a physical product, I need to apply creativity above all else when I design a new furniture piece. I pride myself on designing unique and exclusive items, thus I have to apply some of these above-mentioned ways to bring my designs into being and to market.
As in life, there are no guarantees, except if you diligently apply them, and almost force yourself out of your comfort zone, your business will start seeing growth.
As I mentioned earlier, fireworks are synonymous with celebrations and milestones. So my conclusion is that your creative ideas should be celebrated. They need to be brought to life…by you!
Lizl Naude is the founder of Lilly Loompa in South Africa, a company that creates beautiful and usable furniture pieces made with recycled material. Lilly Loompa's “Rubbish Range” is the result of Lizl's craving to deliver pieces that are completely "green". Lizl is a self taught designer and started designing and making furniture because she couldn’t afford to buy new pieces to furnish her home. She started to scout and source for budget material and quickly realised that most people discard of very usable materials. This led to her building and designing beautiful furniture items that she used in her home.