How 5 Successful Entrepreneurs Stay Creative While Running a Business

Successful entrepreneurs share a common trait: they are creative. As I wrote previously:

Startups are like roller-coasters. If you run or work at a startup, you experience many highs and lows and you can’t always anticipate what’s ahead. Education and experience help us overcome many difficult situations, but education and experience are rarely enough. To be successful, we also must be creative in the ways we face and overcome problems.

Creativity balances the analytical part of our brains and encourages us to take risks. While some entrepreneurs focus solely on crunching numbers and logistics, the most successful entrepreneurs are creative and look for a balance between their left and right brains.

Creativity and success are not cultural phenomena limited to a few countries and cultures. Because the crowdSPRING community is global (our clients come from over 100 countries and our creatives come from nearly every country on Earth), we pay attention to many different trends around the world. Regardless of culture, language or geography, we notice similarities among entrepreneurs.

For example, we’ve observed a revival in entrepreneurial activity in the United Kingdom over the past few years.

Independent studies confirm that unlike many other countries in Europe, entrepreneurship in the U.K. increased in 2016 and this trend has continued into 2017.

Recently, London was named “Most Innovative City.”

We wondered why the trend in the United Kingdom (and to a lesser degree, in France) differed from what we’ve been seeing in other counties over the past year. To help answer that question, we looked at what 5 successful entrepreneurs in the U.K. are doing to regularly spark their creativity.

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1. Rosie Davies,
London Fashion Agency

Take a break!

As the founder and director of one of the UK’s leading PR agencies focused on independent brands, Rosie Davies built her business through creativity and innovation. Through her journey as an entrepreneur, Davies found that start-up guilt plays a major role in crushing creativity. Specifically, the pressure to build a successful that causes many entrepreneurs to stop innovating and become stuck in their own heads. To take some of that pressure away, Davies suggests taking a break:

The pressure of success can be overwhelming, but if it tells you anything else, it’s that taking a break every once in awhile may just be the best thing you can do for your business because it is no myth that a strong mind and happy self will produce better work.

Use that break time to do something fun! Our favorite ways to take a break include going for a bike ride, playing a board game, or even just talking a walk down the hall. When you actively engage in an activity, it makes it easy to let your mind wander.

2. Mark Shayler,
Do Lectures

Question yourself more.

For Mark, innovation is the foundation of business success. He’s found that while many large companies envy the ability of a startup to continuously be creative, many entrepreneurs still struggle to stay creative while running their companies. This is extremely important for entrepreneurs because startups require lots of creativity, patience, and testing in order to discover strategies that work. To stay creative, Shayler asks “why” a lot- and says to look for an unfair advantage:

We are lazy. Lots of us only innovate when we have to; only innovate when our back is against the wall. This wall could be commercial constraint, regulatory constraint, financial constraint. Whatever it is, use use it to help you. Use your opponent’s weight against them. Obstacles are the way…We ask: What if we had to do this ourselves, TODAY?

It’s important to think big! Making lists and doing extensive competitive research is already something entrepreneurs do for themselves and investors. When it comes to creativity, it’s simply a matter of flipping that research into a series of questions.

In fact, we’ve taken this advice even further at crowdSPRING by looking for ways we can compete with ourselves, and not just our competitors. More about this in our recent post on American Express’s Open Forum: How To Compete With Yourself.

3. Edward Relf,

Do some research.

Often called “the Uber for laundry”, Laundrapp is disrupting the way that people do their laundry. After starting many businesses, Edward Relf has become a pro at innovation. He says his secret to the success of Laundrapp and his other startups was in his market research. According to Relf, when you look for gaps in a market, service, or industry you are able to see the issue from a different perspective and generate ideas. So whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or just looking to improve your startup, his advice can help spark your creativity too:

This is one of those opportunities where you look at the market, do your due diligence, and you actually talk to people. And then you realize it’s one of those penny drop moments where you say to yourself “Wow, I just can’t believe no one else has actually not done this before”…It’s the passion, the drive, the honesty, and the humility we have – these are massive drivers of innovation.

Again, the importance of research comes into play. While this may seem counterintuitive to creativity, research actually goes hand in hand with learning. The more knowledge you collect, the more you have to work with.

4. Avin Rabheru,

Read a book!

For Avin Rabheru, staying inspired is most important to keeping your creativity. While Rabheru usually brainstorms in a strategic, logical way to keep up with his busy life as an entrepreneur and investor, he still finds time to read a good book. Along with other forms of learning, books are what Rabheru credits as his main source of inspiration:

I love reading, whether long-form articles, fiction books or nonfiction books. Reading from great authors can take you away from your routine, giving you perspective and making you remember that there are many more things happening in the world than the details that occupy you day-to-day. I’m a particular fan of anything to do with science, technology, space and travel.

If you’re stuck looking for a book to read, places like Goodreads and Amazon are great for reading book reviews. Setting a reading goal helps too- it keeps you committed to searching for new inspiration.


5. Tom Ball,

Talk to people.

Most entrepreneurs try to gauge how good their ideas are by testing them in the market. They measure their findings in terms of monetary gain, often putting their ideas to a pause prematurely. For Tom Ball, talking to people is a better way of testing ideas, and can actually lead to more idea generation and creativity.

As you talk to lots of people about an idea, you notice what they love and what has no impact. It’s not the same as what will make money and what will not – but it helps shape an idea that will capture people’s imagination.

For many entrepreneurs, networking events or meetup sites are great ways to make those connections and get inspired by others. Social media can help too!

Image source: Tim Arterbury

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