When we talk about creativity, people usually refer to an artist who works with oils on canvas, a sculptor crafting amazing objects in metal or stone, the art director in an advertising agency who creates an award-winning ad or even a hair stylist in a famous salon.
But in my opinion the business man, woman or entrepreneur has to be equally, if not more, creative to be truly successful. Creativity is one of the essential traits of a successful entrepreneur.
"There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns. -- Edward de Bono
Creativity and business (or the rigidity of forecasting, planning and management) could be in conflict with one another but if they are able to coexist, they are both extremely complementary and can result in extraordinary achievement.
Leonardo da Vinci was both a scientist and an artist. Science is known for rigidity, rules and logic but artistry is known for creativity and adaptability. Leonardo allowed the two qualities to work together.
If a person is creative by nature he may decide to go into the arts. Indeed, I started my own career as a photographer’s assistant with a desire to be a professional photographer. I quickly realised that to make money in that trade required a fair dose of luck together with technical and creative competence. That’s why I moved to work in advertising (an obvious mix between creativity and business) before leaving in 1984 to start my first company – a hugely creative endeavour at the outset (see https://www.dan-wagner.com/single-post/2016/08/18/Get-up-and-start-your-business-today/).
Art or Science?
With either endeavour – being in business or being an artist – in order to be successful, the lines are blurred. An artist for example, needs materials and therefore needs to calculate the cost of materials, the time needed to produce the work and the money needed to survive during the phase of creation. The artist will then put a price tag on the artwork. It is clear, therefore, that the artist is now in the business of being creative.
The entrepreneur, however, needs to create the vision of the business. Creativity at its rawest.
Creating a new product or service has several stages. There are a million original or interesting ideas out there but unless someone takes charge and implements them, nothing happens. It’s in this process of implementation that the real creativity begins. And it is imperative to think outside the box. There is an old saying in business “Success lies not upon the beaten path”.
Creative business skills
Getting a new product or service off the ground and through to success demands very effective creative skills. How can we bring this product to market? How can I inspire people to come on board with this great idea? How can we get the necessary investment to go forward? Who can be employed to help make all this happen? How can we achieve a breakthrough and obtain critical mass? The businessperson or entrepreneur faces up to these and dozens of other challenges every single day.
Product manufacturing and presentation, marketing strategies and tactics, competitive issues, routes to market, customer acquisition, social media programs, eCommerce strategies and so on ad infinitum.
And decisions have to be made – often on the fly. Doing nothing or procrastinating is the best way to kill any project. Delay will invite competitors to overtake you. This is doubly true in technology.
The most effective business people are dedicated to overcoming these challenges 24/7. Perfection has to be attained. There can be no halfhearted involvement in such an incredibly demanding environment. Of course, all of this doesn’t always ‘look’ as creative or artistic as a beautiful painting or an award-winning advertisement but the successful creation of products, services, jobs, customers and shareholder returns can provide a final result that can be just as amazing.