How to be More Creative

Creativity is at the heart of every thriving business. The creative entrepreneur is always open to new ideas and dares to think differently — James Dyson and Richard Branson are excellent role models.

But trying to come up with an original idea can be tough. To become more creative, you must exercise your imagination like a muscle and allow yourself to see all the possibilities and alternatives.

Being creative in business is not always about having a single “lightbulb” moment. More often it’s about constantly reinventing products and services and how they are delivered.

According to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon: “If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you're going to double your inventiveness. The thing about inventing is you have to be both stubborn and flexible, more or less simultaneously. If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution to a problem you're trying to solve."

Here are ten ways to bring out your inner innovator:

  • Be open to new possibilities. Start your thinking with "what if?". Throw out the rulebook and don't let old ways of doing things get in the way of new ideas or approaches.

  • Cast a critical eye over everything. Always look for ways to solve problems and make improvements.

  • Do something you’re passionate about. You’re more likely to come up with new ways of doing things if you are working on something you love.

  • Focus on helping people. At the heart of most ideas is a desire to make people's lives better.

  • Give yourself time and space to get into a creative mindset. Find the place where you do your best thinking and get rid of any distractions.

  • Make time for brainstorming with others and encourage participation by being open-minded and positive.

  • Learn from your failures. Experimenting is a creative process; mistakes can inspire new thinking. Take Post-it notes, for example, they were born out of a failed attempt to create super-strong glue.

  • Put budgets and logistics aside while brainstorming. Practicalities can come later.

  • Listen to others. Talk to friends, family, colleagues, customers and suppliers. Their views could challenge your assumptions and radically change your thinking.

  • Be curious. Keep asking questions and pay attention to the world around you, including fantastic new technological developments and changes in the way we live and buy things.

How do you turn an idea into reality?

Of course, creativity on its own isn’t enough. Successful entrepreneurs combine creativity with focus, energy and determination to bring their ideas to life.

Once you have an idea, your next step is to test it – thoroughly. Many innovative entrepreneurs rely on “iteration”, which means testing and refining something until it’s right.

Read about how others have started up their own business.

Explore different business ideas through our Big Ideas Wales Factsheets