In this post, the third in a series of four posts about becoming a successful entrepreneur, I focus on the elements that help to make you more audacious as an entrepreneur.
The definition of audacious I’m working to here is showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks. In my experience, entrepreneurs are not risk averse. They are prepared to move into spaces where others fear to tread and do so with strength and commitment. How do they do that you might ask when others around them shrink back in trepidation?
From my direct experience of leading five different commercial startups and an active, full-time commercial role in a large national training provider, I would say that key to their willingness to take bold risks is thinking, analysis and forethought.
Creative thinking – the primary element
Within our society how would you classify people who take risks without thinking? My sense is that we would view them as rash, foolhardy, and often as lacking intelligence, some might say stupid!
If you subscribe to that viewpoint, how do you feel about this further perspective? I also believe that in our society today, let alone among entrepreneurs, we still spend too much time doing, rather than thinking. So, what does that say about how we do things, and what makes successful entrepreneurs different?
The essential difference, in my view, is creative thinking. Excellent entrepreneurs come up with fresh ideas and new concepts. They see situations through many lenses and from differing perspectives. They tease out potential pitfalls and obstacles and try to plan around them.
Their ideas are usually original or great adaptations of a previous design or perception. They give them thought and then apply that thinking.
Are you born creative?
I think that the majority of people believe you are either born creative or you are not! That is complete nonsense. Some people have more flair than others when it comes to creativity. However, like any other skill, you can develop your creativity.
How to develop your creativity
I suggest these eight steps to developing your creativity.
- Like any skill, you need to make a commitment to developing creativity, and stick with it!
- Try becoming an expert in a particular subject. I would say I am an expert on three things – work with young people, leading and managing transformational change, and leadership and management.
- Become insatiably curious, maintain that curiosity, and reward yourself when it takes you to new and exciting places.
- Develop a mindset that is willing to take risks. Understand that the adage, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, has some meaning. Many people will have heard me say at one time or another, ‘speculate to accumulate’. When I say this, I am declaring my mindset, and my willingness to take risks.
- Take small steps in your creativity process. You need to build your confidence incrementally, which will boost your desire and willingness to go further.
- Create yourself some space to think, and to develop your creativity. Part of my concern of everyday life is that busyness takes over. We are constantly doing, doing, doing! Make some space to stop, reflect, review and think. Better still, record your thinking in a journal, and return to your writing regularly. I journal every day, including writing three things I am grateful for each day, and review my week on a Sunday. It is now so ingrained it is habitual.
- Recognise that the creativity process will not flow from the outset. You will encounter obstacles, not least of which may be negative attitudes which creep in because things feel like they are not going well. Those negative attitudes will block your creativity. Stay secure and satisfied in the knowledge that your perseverance will win through.
- Understand that fear of failure is natural, but unwelcome. You need to give yourself permission to experiment, to try things out, and to acknowledge that sometimes things will not work out as you planned. However, review your learning and apply it again, and again, and again.
What else will you develop as you grow?
Interestingly, as you grow, you will find yourself better able to solve problems. You will be looking for solutions to the things you uncover as you think. You might identify a splendid idea, but there are obstacles to overcome. How do you deal with them? By applying sound problem-solving techniques.
There are numerous ones you can use, such as SCAMPER, the 5 Whys, CATWOE, and, of course, ForceField Analysis, which is one that I have regularly used over many years. Try them out, find out which suits your need best at any given time, and apply it rigorously.
You will be amazed at how much further thinking it will generate, and maybe even new ideas and variations of perspectives that you had never considered. Better still, do it with a partner or a team for additional thinking power and be unafraid to ask for help. In my experience, people respect you more if you do that.
What else will happen as you create solutions?
I have noticed that the more solution focused I become, the greater the range of opportunities I recognise. I see trends and patterns emerging that I had not seen previously, and these lead to new ideas and possibilities.
However, best of all, identifying solutions and opportunities give you a sound base from which to plan. Creativity and problem-solving do not exist in a vacuum. They should lead to action, to some defined outcome. In most cases, this would manifest in a plan to take your thinking forward.
In my final post in this series on Thursday, 24th November 2016, I will set out some of the practical skills that I think would take your creativity, problem-solving and opportunity identification forward.
I welcome your comments and enjoy engaging in further dialogue. If I can be of any assistance in coaching your entrepreneurialism or developing greater personal resilience, please just ask. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +447958765972. I am always happy to listen and ready to help.
Thank you for reading.