(Photo courtesy of socialmonsters.org)
Driven. Ambitious. Committed. Passionate. Work ethic. Intelligent. Talented. Motivated. The list goes on and on. Yet, the characteristic that typically gets omitted from the list of traits that define a successful entrepreneur is creative. Writers are creative. Designers are creative. Artists are creative. But are business owners?
Creativity is where fresh ideas, smart solutions, efficient processes and innovative products originate. It’s the launching point and driving force for a business to think outside the box and discover new avenues for success. With creativity, a small business can improve on all fronts, from productivity to cost-effectiveness, gaining that competitive edge.
A business owner may value creativity, but thinking outside the box can be tough when you’re on deadline. Time-restricted routines, fear of failure and lack of inspiration can all dampen great ideas. If you’re in a lull, here are five ways to help boost your creative process.
Focus on Your Surroundings
A creative idea can occur at any time, and a comfortable, aesthetic and personalized home is a great environment to foster this process. Lori McNee, a professional artist and owner of FineArtTips.com, recommends breathing new life into your personal space with fresh flowers and greenery. A touch of nature, such as silk flowers or bamboo shoots, can add a positive feel to a space. A color scheme of light blue or sage can also produce mental clarity, while canary or turquoise blue commonly evoke feelings of happiness. To create good energy and a harmonious environment, follow the rules of feng-shui.
Take an Urban Sabbatical
Many entrepreneurs and business visionaries have the freedom to work remotely, which invites opportunities to travel and ditch the monotony of a familiar routine. Head east and shake it up with an urban sabbatical in our nation’s capital. You’ll surround yourself with a highly ambitious, intellectually sharp professionals, and tons of museums and historical landmarks to explore. Living in Washington D.C., even for a short time, can ignite self-discovery as you put yourself outside of your comfort zone. Check out resources like StoryDistrict, the Creativity Conference and the Library of Congress to stimulate your brain and boost your creative energy.
A change of scenery, even if it’s just a day trip, can also fuel creative engagement. Mix up your surroundings, recommends the Creative Live blog, and dig into new experiences. Explore Bend. If you already live in Bend, change your perspective to see your city through the eyes of a tourist. Known for friendly people and funky culture, Portland is an excellent destination to rejuvenate and explore. Enjoy a cup of coffee (without looking at your phone or laptop) and people watch at a local coffee shop. Or bike to a brewery where you can meet locals with eclectic tastes and diverse backgrounds.
Soak in Mother Nature
Hard work and dedication are essential for business success, but overwhelming stress can lead to burnout. Detach from your smartphone, peel your eyes away from the computer screen and escape to the outdoors. Open space can spark creative ideas that may be suppressed by an overload of daily business responsibilities. A study at the University of Kansas found that young people who backpacked for three days exhibited higher creativity and cognitive abilities. As master of your own schedule, designate time to experience Crater Lake National Park or hike the six-mile Tillamook Head trail in Ecola State Park.
Music can help break a lack of imagination, says Planet of Success. Putting on headphones and playing music is a quick fix for enhancing creativity during a project or problem. Take a break and close your eyes. Replace frustrations with focused breathing. Allow ideas and concepts to arise as you get lost in the beats and sounds. You can also increase opportunities for creativity by varying how you connect with music. Recharge your creative energies and travel to Austin for a local live music festival or attend a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver.