by Theresa Bradley-Banta
Here are some tips to give you a nudge in the right direction of creative thinking as business-survival training.
The Art of Creativity in Business
Turn it Upside Down
When I create artwork I turn it upside down so I can see the canvas as a whole without being distracted by the image itself. It’s a great way to see things like negative space, color, line weight, coverage, etc.
Reverse your viewpoint. Ask yourself what is missing from the picture. What happens when you turn an idea upside down?
Here’s your picture: You plan to buy a run down house, fix it and sell it for a profit. Can you see the property? Now turn the picture upside down. What are the other possible scenarios?
The house doesn’t sell and now you might be upside down indeed. Do you see the deal in another light? You’ve challenged your original exit strategy and now you might do things a little differently. You won’t go so hog wild on the upgrades, for example. You might finance the deal a little more conservatively. And now, you have two exit strategies—an excellent start.
Look for the Second Best Answer
Kids are great at doing this.
What do you do with an empty toilet paper roll? Turn it into a megaphone. Play with your cat. Curl your hair. Make binoculars. Cut, paint and use as napkin rings. Make a tall hat for your doll. Store your underwear.
Can you find new uses for your existing products or services? Can you create new products or services?
Ask “What if?”
What if this blog post was titled “The Art of Non-Creativity In Business?” The very act of changing the title forces you to be creative and to ask questions.
Is non-creativity a form of art? How can that be? Are we now dealing in grim facts? The art of being methodical?
Ask “What if?.” “What if someone else had my challenge, how would they handle it?” Bring someone to mind like Dr. Seuss and ask, “What would Dr. Seuss do?”
Change Your Question
Do you need money to grow your business?
Don’t ask, “Who’s going to lend me money?”
Change your question to, “What are different sources of capital?”
The possibilities are endless. Leverage from collateral. Other people’s credit. Creative debt such as capital in exchange for equity. Time or labor in lieu of cash. Collaborative opportunities. Overlooked assets.
Challenge Current Conventions
Ask, “Why do we have to do it this way?” Pick a basic belief, list the conventional rules and see if you can break every one of them.
When I moved from investing in small single-family and multifamily properties into larger properties, it was suggested I begin with something small such as an 8 unit rental. Instead, I started with a 29 unit apartment building. A property I found by making cold calls to local property managers, rather than through a local commercial broker.
Because of my unconventional approach I found a “pocket listing”—a property not on the public market—and in real estate investor’s words, “priceless.”
Can you practice the art of creativity in business today?