Here are some tips to give you a nudge in the right direction of creative thinking as business-survival training.
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.
Ask “What if”?
What if this were titled “The Art of Non-Creativity In Life and Business?” The very act of changing the title forces you to be creative and to ask questions.
Is non-creativity an 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, and how would they handle it?” Make up someone in your mind like, say, Dr. Seuss, and ask how he would handle it.
Change your question.
You need money to grow your business?
Don’t ask, “Who’s going to lend me money?”… the bank? My family?
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.
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. This is how you 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? 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… the only way to go.
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 started buying multi-family properties it was “suggested” I begin with a little property — like 4 units. Instead, I started with a 29 unit apartment building. And, I didn’t find it from the local apartment boys (brokers), it came from making cold calls to property managers. Because of my unconventional approach I found a “pocket listing” — meaning a property not on the public market yet — and in real estate investor’s words, “priceless”.
Can you practice some creativity today? I’d love to hear your results and would be honored if you shared them.