Is Creativity Required

Is Creativity Required for Success?

I read an article about skills you need to succeed at anything. Intended for businesses, it talked about communication and listening, decision-making, personal (time) management, analytical skills, and creative thinking – to name just a few.

Okay, improving many of these skills will certainly make a difference and contribute to your success — in business and in life. But creativity in how we think and solve problems? Well, it got me thinking…

When things go wrong or problems arise, how do you resolve them and what do you do? Ever had anyone tell you to get creative or think out of the box? And therein lies the problem.

By definition, creativity means you have the ability to create new or original ideas or methods. But most of us don’t consider ourselves creative unless we are a designer, artist or craft person.  So messages that promote ‘creative thinking’ can fall flat – and the recipient feels doomed before they start.

Innovation Vs. Creativity

Here’s a better approach. Think innovation. By definition, innovation is the introduction of new things or methods. Subtle difference – introducing new methods versus creating them. Innovation does not require originality or uniqueness that is often associated with creativity. It’s simply a matter of continuously looking for better ways to do what you do – and you can use what others have already perfected.

The good news is we all have the ability to be innovative and we don’t need to go at it alone. Make it part of your culture and get others involved too. It’s important if you want to achieve sustainable success in business.

Where to Apply Innovation

So where should you apply innovation in your business? The answer is simple – everywhere. From marketing and sales to customer support, service delivery and team building, all areas of your business will benefit from a little innovative thinking and action!

A process to stay connected with customers to improve retention rates is innovative.

Finding new markets for your products or services is innovative.

A marketing campaign that consistently delivers quality leads is innovative.

Applying technology to a current system — for improved efficiency — is innovative.

Re-packaging products and services to improve margins and sales is innovative.

A system for consistently hiring quality people is innovative.

So don’t get hung up on creativity, but do make innovation a definite priority. It will pay off on the bottom line and may actually make what you do a lot more fun!

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Business Innovation & Growth: How to Keep It Alive

When money flows into your business effortlessly from banks and customers, it’s easy to ignore mistakes, take the path of least resistance, and live with the problems. But when times get tough, it becomes more difficult to ignore. It forces business owners to create REAL changes or go out of business.

Choose a Different Path

Instead of blaming others or the economy when things get tough, do what entrepreneurs do.  Put on your creative hat and make the decision to rethink, restructure, refocus and rebuild. In doing so, you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

So if you are looking to turn things around, recognize that it’s time to stop putting band-aids on your business and commit to real change. Often the problems you have, like eroding sales and profits, long hours with little pay, or poor cash flow, are symptoms of bigger issues in your business. Get to the root cause and fix the real problems.

Where to Start Rebuilding

Get Rid of the Dead Wood. Employees are an asset, but only if they produce results. You need to be willing to let go of the people in your company who don’t. You know who they are. They show up late, collect a paycheck and add little or no value for your customers, team or business. They zap your energy and kill morale. So why do we settle and hang onto under-performers?

Sometimes it’s fear of the unknown.  Johnny may be lazy, but at least he shows up. Sometimes it’s a sense of obligation.  How can I fire my cousin or brother and still face my family? Sometimes we feel we can’t. because we never communicated our expectations or dissatisfaction. And sometimes we just feel too overwhelmed and don’t have the time to hire and train someone new. Whatever your reasons, you have a choice. You can fix the problem – help Johnny become an asset to the team — or make him go away.

Fire Deadbeat Customers. Again, you know who they are. They only buy with discounts or purchase low-margin products, pay late or after numerous collection requests, complain often and treat your team poorly. What you earn from your ideal customers subsidizes your less than perfect ones. Why let them hang around to zap your profits and team morale? Fire them and replace them with customers who value what you do or sell.

Apply Innovation in All Areas of Your Business. Many owners associate innovation with new products or inventions. Innovation, by definition, is the introduction of new things or methods and it’s important if you want to achieve sustainable growth and profit.

The key is to apply it to all areas of your business.  From marketing and sales to customer support, delivery and team building. It’s simply a matter of continuously looking for better ways to do what you do.

RELATED ARTICLEIs Creativity Required for Success?

Make Productivity Matter. Busy is not the same as productive. Productivity is about producing effective results or outcomes, in the most efficient way, with the least amount of time and effort. Now who wouldn’t want that?

So do you measure and look for ways to eliminate waste, increase outputs or reduce hours associated with daily tasks or service delivery within your company? Do you have systems for the critical activities and consistently look for ways to streamline or improve them?

If you want to increase your margins, without raising your prices, take a hard look at your productivity levels and the waste in your business. It’s a goldmine for many small businesses.

Plan, Measure and Systematize Your Marketing. A lot of small business owners view marketing as a necessary evil. They know they need it, but often struggle to get it right. So when money gets tight or owners get busy, marketing takes the hit. Unfortunately, it comes at a big cost — sustainable growth and profit. So why is that?

First, some lack a strong marketing foundation with clear targets, the right products and services for them, and compelling messages to get them to act. As a result, it makes marketing harder to do. An integrated and consistent marketing effort produces a better ROI, but it does require a little planning.

Second, some fail to measure results so they don’t actually know if their investment (time and money) is delivering a return. It’s easy to cut marketing expenses when you can’t tie the cost to specific results such as new customers or increased revenue.  Unfortunately, it’s not always the right decision.

Third, most marketing for small businesses is not systematized. There is no efficiency and most important, no consistency. Therefore, it costs more and is far less effective – an obvious frustration.

Focus More On Profit Than Sales. It may make you feel good to hit that target sales plateau or be able to tell others you do $1 million or more in sales. But if those sales are not providing you with the profit to sustain growth, increase your personal income and deliver the lifestyle you want – why bother?

As a business owner, you take all the risks. Your business must make a profit to stay in business. Your family, customers, employees and vendors are depending on it. Remember, sales growth is important, but profit and cash flow is king!

Kill the Paradigms. What beliefs do you hold to be true that really aren’t? We all have some. Those little self-sabotaging thoughts that act as constraints in our business and life. Here are a few examples: It’s impossible to earn a profit in this economy, I can’t get good help, customers are never satisfied, customers only care about price, marketing doesn’t work, I can’t get my people to do anything unless I’m there watching over them.

Any sound familiar? The problem with paradigms is they give you an excuse to settle for less, accept mediocrity or give up completely. Don’t let the attitudes held by others, but not supported with fact, hold you back.

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goals.resolutions

How To Profit From Others Ideas

Profit From Other Peoples IdeasWhen someone offers you a new idea for improving your business (or your life), how do you react? Do you look for the flaws and try to justify why it’s a bad idea? Do you dismiss it as something you can’t do because it may require too much work, time or money? Or do you find ways to apply it – in full or in part?

Today more than ever, building sales and profit in business requires more creativity – the customers won’t simply show up on your doorstep or visit your website. The good news is you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Instead, pay attention to what others are doing — with a different attitude. Instead of dismissing their ideas or tactics, look for the strengths and potential. How can you apply it in your business or life? What changes can you make to improve it?

Why Do People Dismiss Ideas That Might Benefit Them?

Sometimes, it’s because we’re overwhelmed with work and don’t want to contemplate taking on something new. But with an open mind, you may just uncover something that is far better than what you are currently working on. Replace the new idea with one that isn’t working, but taking up your time and money.

Sometimes, we dismiss ideas because we don’t trust or like the source. Recognize that ideas can come from good or bad people. Even questionable business practices often have, at their center, a perfectly good marketing or customer insight. Break it down and reinvent some of the elements to fit your ‘better’ business practices.

Sometimes, we dismiss ideas simply because we don’t understand them. If the results seem too good to be true, don’t simply dismiss it out of hand. Take the time to ask more questions and truly understand. Your decision to act or dismiss is now based on some level of understanding.

Life is full of opportunities to be happier and more successful. Sometimes these opportunities smack us in the face, they are obvious. But often, they arrive in puffs – fleeting remarks or suggestions by friends or colleagues or chance encounters with strangers.

If you open your mind and eliminate the tendency to rationalize why ideas won’t work – you may just uncover a world of untapped potential. Listen to your team, your customers, and your “little voice,” – and seize the day. Then you and the business can, and will, become so much more!

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ideas for marketing

How Wacky Holidays Can Inspire Your Marketing

Do you use monthly promotions to stay connected with current customers or reach new ones? Do you struggle coming up with ideas each and every month? If you hit a roadblock, let the hundreds of unique or wacky holidays inspire your marketing efforts.

If you investigate, you’ll find there are holidays that celebrate life events, better living, success and people of all ages and professions. You name it, there is likely a holiday out there!

Here’s a few examples. March is National Nutrition Month – so trainers, nutritionists, gym owners, and other businesses who promote nutrition or lifestyle changes have a great reason to connect with customers and even link some offers to celebrate.

Want to market to doctors, dentists or vets? There’s a holiday for them. How about technology companies?  World Backup Day may just work. Are families or senior citizens your ideal customers?  There’s a day for them as well.

Using holidays and events effectively in your marketing requires planning. There are two ways you can approach this.

First, go to Holiday Insights or Days of the Year to check out the many holidays each month. When you find something interesting that links to your industry, target customers or benefits you deliver, write them down with the month and date. While you may not find something inspiring every month, you should find at least three or four that you can use throughout the year. Now put them into your marketing plan or calendar – and get creative.

Another option is to make a list of your key targets, industries and emotional benefits. Using your list, do a Google search to identify any appreciation days or month-long celebrations. Days of the Year, noted above, also allows for searching.  Using the above example, if you search on dentist appreciation day you will find sites that show you that it occurs in March. If you are looking for something specific, this approach may be easier.

With a little creativity, you have what you need to connect with others in a fun, effective way.  Give it a try.

How Curiosity Can Revitalize Your Business

How Curiosity Can Revitalize Your Business

According to Walt Disney, curiosity leads us down new paths. It can also help revitalize your business. So how curious are you?

Did you ever notice how curious young children are? For them, the world is full of new things to explore and pursue. And to the frustration of many parents, “why” is their favorite question. But from a child’s curiosity comes discovery and knowledge.

So how would an eager desire to learn help you and your business achieve more? When you consider that curiosity compels us to ask more or better questions, dig deeper, seek understanding, and explore better ways – it provides benefits in all areas.

In sales, curiosity helps us build rapport with prospects. It drives us to ask questions to understand the person and what motivates them, what they need and why it’s important. When sincere, our inquiries demonstrate interest and help us find common ground, a basis for starting a relationship. Isn’t that what you want?

In operations, curiosity propels us to find new and better ways to serve our customers and streamline our procedures. We seek feedback from customers to understand what we do well and how we can improve. We ask for input from our employees to increase efficiency so we can do more with less effort. Our curiosity leads to knowledge – something we can build on.

On a personal level, our curiosity inspires us to act on a variety of topics — from new skills to hobbies. Think about the last time something piqued your curiosity. What did you do? Search the web or invest in a book to learn more? Talk to friends or colleagues? Take a class or join a group?

The curiosity we had as a child helped us discover and learn. It did lead us down new paths. It still can. So tap into your curiosity to help revitalize your business.

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Pittfalss

3 Pitfalls You Should Avoid

How Do You Respond to Opportunities?

When someone offers you a new idea for improving your business (or your life), how do you react? Do you look for the flaws and try to justify why it’s a bad idea? Do you dismiss it as something you can’t do because it may require too much work, time or money? Or do you find ways to apply it – in full or in part?

Today more than ever, building sales and profit in business requires more creativity. Customers won’t simply show up on your doorstep or hand over their hard-earned money to you. Fortunately, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to find ideas to grow or improve your business.

You simply need to pay attention to what others are doing and saying — with a different attitude. Instead of dismissing their ideas or suggestions, look for the strengths and potential. Then ask yourself ‘How can I apply it in my business or life? What changes can I make to improve it’?

3 Reasons Why People Dismiss Ideas

Why do so many people quickly dismiss ideas that might benefit them? Here are three pitfalls you should avoid.

Lack of Time. We’re bombarded with information, overwhelmed with work and don’t want to contemplate taking on something new. But with an open mind, you may just uncover something that is far better than what you are currently working on. To key is to capture the idea before it is lost, then consider it later when you are less overwhelmed.

Ideas often arrive unexpectedly and are lost quickly. So the next time something peaks your curiosity, write it down in a notebook, computer or your smartphone. Don’t evaluate it, simply capture the idea for future consideration. Periodically or as part of your quarterly planning, pull out your list of ideas and pick one to research, develop and implement.

When you have an easy way to capture ideas, your mind becomes a magnet for them – and you ultimately have control over which you choose to pursue and which you choose to dismiss.

Lack of Trust. Sometimes, we dismiss ideas because we don’t trust or like the source. Recognize that ideas can come from good or bad people. Even questionable business practices often have, at their core, a perfectly good marketing or customer insight. Break it down and reinvent some of the elements to fit your values and business practices.

Lack of Understanding. Sometimes, we dismiss ideas simply because we don’t understand them. If the results seem too good to be true, don’t simply dismiss it out of hand. Take the time to ask more questions and truly understand. Your decision to act or dismiss is now based on some level of knowledge.

Life is full of opportunities to be happier and more successful. Sometimes these opportunities smack us in the face, they are obvious. But often, they arrive as fleeting remarks or suggestions by friends, colleagues, customers or even a chance encounter with a stranger.

If you open your mind and eliminate the tendency to rationalize why ideas won’t work – you may just uncover a world of untapped potential. Listen to your team, your customers, and your “little voice,” – and seize the day. Then you and your business can, and will, become so much more!

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.