In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…Genesis 1:1
CEOs are, by default, creators.
And that’s perhaps one of the hardest things to do.
A successful business is successful because it has identified a gap in the market, a need that’s unfulfilled, and has created a product or service that fills that need. This is an important distinction that every Superhero CEO has to make. You must be clear about what you are creating and what problem you’re solving.
To build that unique product or service, the entrepreneur must be creative. As you will no doubt find out, this is incredibly hard to do. But it must be done.
Wait, What does it mean to be creative?
Being creative means many things to many people, but in this context, it means being inventive, the ability to generate original ideas. It also entails using your instincts, thinking outside the box, using unconventional methods to solve problems.
Creativity for the entrepreneur is more than just a good skill to have. It’s pure survival.
If you’re going to build a successful business, then creativity is a must.
Okay, Okay, I can guess what you’re thinking.
But Favour, I’m not a very creative person?
Well, tough luck. You wanted to start a business. So you’ve got to be creative.
But there’s good news.
You can learn to be creative.
Okay, maybe I can’t make you the next Da Vinci or Steve Jobs. That’s fine. You don’t have to be.
What you have to do is become a creative thinker.
Thinking creatively means that you change how you process information and eliminates the limits that you place on your mind.
The great thing about creativity is that it’s an infinite resource. The more you exercise your mind to think creatively, you become much better at it.
In the end, the results compound, and that’s how you become a Superhero CEO.
So, how do we engage Operation Creative Thinking?
Find Problems, not Products.
When you’re building a business, it’s tempting to build it around a product. Resist that urge.
Here’s a good example. Let’s assume you have a business in the food industry, say a restaurant. It’ll be unwise to build a product, which in this case would be a menu, without first considering the problems in that space.
- What kind of customers are you likely to attract?
- What kind of cuisine will they prefer?
- What problems do they face with getting food already?
To build a successful business, your first task is to find a problem, not a product.
If you try to build a product before you find a problem, you’ll end up making something that nobody wants or needs.
Here’s an exercise for you. If you plan to start a business, write down the problems you think your target audience is facing. Then ask a couple of people in that demographic if they are facing that problem. You might be surprised to find that the problem you think you were solving doesn’t exist.
This is why many businesses launch products that fail. Nobody needed the solution they were trying to build.
Have a Just Cause
To build a successful business, you must have a clear picture of how the future will look with your product.
Remember that I said your product or service is meant to be a solution to a problem. But at this point in your journey of becoming a Superhero CEO, you don’t have a solution built yet. What you have is a problem that your audience is facing.
To get your creative juices flowing, have a vision of how the world will look when that problem gets solved.
That sounds a bit complicated, so let me break it down.
Simon Sinek, one of my favorite authors and thought leaders on all things business, describes 5 things that are necessary for a business to play the Infinite Game. The first is a Just Cause.
A Just Cause is an idealized view of the world that you (and your business) strives to achieve, even though for all intents and purposes, you might bever achieve it.
For example, our just cause at The Favour Phronesis is to build a world where anyone can start a business and succeed at it knowing who they are, what audience they serve, and how best to serve them.
This is an idealized version of the future that while we may never get there in reality, we’ll spend our time, energy, and resources to make it a reality. And so, any action or product that moves us closer to that goal is a success.
How does this make you creative?
When you know the problem that your customers face, and you can conceptualize how their world would look after that problem gets solved, you have a start and an end point. All that’s needed is to build a bridge between those two points, and the process of building that bridge, is where your creativity comes out to play.
Let me use The Favour Phronesis as an example.
Problem: A vast majority of business die within their first 5 years, and the few that survive remain permanently at subsistence level.
Just Cause: To build a world where anyone can start a business and become successful at it, because they know their audience and the best way to serve them.
Now that we know what the problem is, and how the world will look like when that problem is solved, We have the creative freedom to explore and find that solution that will make our Just Cause closer to reality.
You see, by creating a start and endpoint for your business’s existence, you give yourself the liberty to figure out what you need to create because you know the effects it has to create.
So, another exercise.
Think about your business and the problem that you have identified that your customers have.
Next, find and determine your Just Cause. An idealized version of the future that your customers will experience when that problem gets solved.
This exercise forces you to start thinking creatively.
And that process of thinking is what makes you creative.
Think outside the box, but don’t discard the box
Now that you have 2 parts to the equation of building successful businesses, it’s time to find that final component. And that involves some unorthodox thinking.
Some of the best products and solutions come from the craziest of ideas, and if you want to create the best products and services, learn to ignore convention.
Allow yourself to be a bit crazy.
With your just cause, you’ve already stated how you want to change the world. Well, to change the world, you’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile and think outside the box.
Just remember to remain realistic.
Another Exercise. Start by writing all the possible ways that you can think of to solve the problem you’ve identified.
The only criteria is that it:
- Attempts to solve the problem that you’ve identified.
- Remains consistent with your Just Cause.
Apart from that, feel free to let your imagination run wild. You’ll be surprised at how many creative ideas you’ll have.
It’s glaring that you are only creative to the degree that you’re able to think. The better you are at thinking, the better a chance you have at creating something worthwhile.
But how do you initiate that process of thinking? How do you begin to get the wheels in your head spinning like a hamster wheel?
That, my friend, is the superpower that we’ll consider next.