Small Business and Problem-solving: Take a Walk

Sometimes I wake up in the night thinking about my company. On occasion it can be difficult to get back to sleep, especially when some recently wrestled-with and unresolved issue is nagging at me. My mind gets stuck on a problem or a question and sleep can be elusive from that point forward. I think this is a fairly common phenomenon for small business owners and many have  told me they experience the same problem.

I just returned from a 2-week vacation, which was greatly appreciated luxury. I visited places I had never been, experienced a culture that was brand-new to me, saw art and architecture that was eye-opening and inspirational, and walked for hours on end. I also thought a great deal about our company and our team.

Sometimes a break from routine is exactly what’s needed. Stepping back and allowing oneself the chance to look at a problem from a distance can be the best way to attack that problem. Routine can be the death of creative thinking; going to work, sitting at the same desk, and performing the same tasks simply does not allow for the time and perspective needed to tackle certain problems.

The process we use to develop ideas is different for every person and every manager and small business owner has their own way of approaching this, consciously or not. My vacation reminded me that my process stagnates without a change of scenery and without the space I need to think. It also led me to think about ways I might think more creatively in my everyday work life and talk to others about ways that they jumpstart their own creative thinking. Here’s a few that made sense to me:

  • Allow yourself and your team to make any and all crazy suggestions (as well as those that seem rational)
  • Don’t judge ideas too early in the process – let them develop and grow
  • Daydream more and spend time with your feet up just letting your mind ramble
  • Make mistakes and accept them
  • Go for a long walk and let yourself play with ideas
  • Draw or paint an idea
  • Change your habits and do things differently – try walking or driving a different route to work

Photo, Wikimedia: Dmitry Rozhkov

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