I read an article about a month ago that really riled me up. (That’s why I haven’t written about it until now.) A fairly well-known business consultant articulated that small business should NOT try to be creative in their business. This was “substantiated” by a series of reasons- most of which demonstrated that the exemplar businesses that either never studied their competitors (and, therefore, were certain their proposition was unique and creative) or were larger companies that had forgotten how to be creative.
Creativity is the ability to develop a new concept/product/idea, using principles that have been proven, often in different areas. This is not the same thing as developing a scientific breakthrough- although most of these are built upon the success of prior pioneers. Business is more akin to engineering- it is the application of scientific or logical principles aimed at real-life success. To succeed in business, one needs a breadth of skills and techniques.
Decades ago, small businesses were primarily candy stores, drug stores, cleaning establishments and the like. As such, they relied upon the old maxim- “location, location, location”. Nowadays, many of our new businesses rely on the internet or networking. And, so our “location” is more ethereal- but just as critical. We need the best names for our websites, search engine optimization, or a variety of cohorts and customers who keep our names in play.
The ways we do this need to be creative. There are millions of entities (maybe not as proficient as ours) all clamoring for “customer” attention. We need to develop a business model that differentiates us- not to be all things to all people, but to attract those customers that mesh well with our offerings. Pick things where you are significantly different than others; what the alternatives are to your offering and erase those alternatives in your offering.
We need to think broadly, stay nimble and flexible, and insure that emerging and existing customer needs are always in focus.