Creativity is in almost every conceivable task. It is at the root of almost every idea or concept. When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the concept of putting light within a glass circle was completely new. It transcended what was considered traditional and normal.
Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb was an invention that created a revolution. It changed our way of living, the time span of our days, and our initial thoughts on electricity. Today, the light bulb is as ordinary as anything else.
Many debate the meaning of creativity and whether its existence is prevalent in today’s society. This is because creativity is not measurable but purely subjective. It is unique to every individual and comes in many different forms. Therefore, many struggle to recognize the importance of creativity because they fail to recognize it in all its forms.
So, how do you, as a business owner, use creativity? Do you even consider yourself to be creative?
If you don’t consider yourself very creative, I can guarantee you that you are. You see, you don’t have to invent the lightbulb, be an artist, or write narratives to be creative. This is where little “c” creativity comes into play.
Little “c” creativity is found in nearly all people. It is those daily mini innovations that create an idea that is novel or useful. This type of creativity effects few people.
A more formal definition is provided by the American Psychological Association. They suggest that “little “c” creativity, which is often used as an indicator of mental health, includes everyday problem-solving and the ability to adapt to change.”
Examples of little “c” creativity are:
- Those days in college when you created an impromptu meal from just the few ingredients you had on hand
- Maybe it was some decoration you put together for a birthday party
- It might have been the creation of toys for your dogs out of old t-shirts
- Throwing together an outfit from the wardrobe in your closet to create the look your wanting
The options are limitless when it comes to little “c” creativity.
However, big “C” creativity is more selective. Great examples of this would be the invention of the cell phone, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, when the Wright brothers invented the airplane, and the creation of the computer.
According to the American Psychological Association, big “C” creativity ” occurs when a person solves a problem or creates an object that has a major impact on how other people think, feel, and live their lives.”
So, why is creativity important to you as a business owner?
Earlier, I asked if you, as a small business owner, use creativity. In some of my other blogs, I talked about benchmarking and the customer decision process. In both of these, I suggested using ideas that are outside of the box or creative.
A specific example from benchmarking pertained to looking at ways to improve a mechanic shop by comparing it to a coffee shop. Perhaps providing WiFi in the waiting room would make customers more comfortable while they wait for their cars to be finished. It may make them want to come to your shop rather than your competitors at the end of the day.
Using creativity in business sets you apart from others and helps you problem solve. Creativity can be used to develop ways to draw more customers in and create a sustainable competitive advantage. Maybe it could even save your business. It doesn’t have to be a completely new invention or idea. It can be a modification or new application of something already done by another business.
Today in marketing class, we discussed some of the things Toys “R” Us could have done to save their business. We agreed, as a class, that if it were to be made more of a “destination” perhaps it could last longer. Some of the ideas included making the store more interactive and hands on. Kids could come in and play with some of the toys and find the ones they liked. Another novel idea would be to have events like Lego building contests and maybe even a mascot kids could come and see.
All of these ideas were developed using creative thinking. Students noticed what other businesses were doing and tweaked it so Toys “R” Us could potentially use it.
At the end of the day, you as a business owner could choose to go with procedure to fix your problems. There is no risk in procedure, and we have seen other businesses do it so we know it works. However, this will not set your business apart from them. Whether you use the type of creativity that exists on a small daily basis (little “c” creativity) or you invent a completely new process of doing business (big “C” creativity), the risk you take by trying something new can make your business thrive.
Therefore, if you make a conscious effort to strategically employ creativity in your business decisions you might be surprised with the results.
About our author
Abby Cahn is a Spring 2018 marketing intern for Kansas SBDC. She went to Cowley County Community College as a Secondary Art and English Education Major and graduated with an Associates in Arts. However, she decided business was the most beneficial route for her. Currently, she is a Fort Hays State University undergraduate student pursuing her degree in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. She enjoys creating artwork, reading, and assembling floral arrangements. Abby hopes to open her own small business some day. She wants to teach people how to create floral arrangements and artwork, as well as sell them, from a small shop in Kansas. By doing this, she hopes to promote creativity and art as an outlet for communication, learning, and relaxation. She knows that one day if she needs assistance with her business she will go to her local Kansas SBDC.