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5 Ways To Improve Your Entrepreneurial Creativity

For starters, don’t use your phone as an alarm clock.

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Entrepreneurial Creativity

Entrepreneurs have to be a bottomless pit of creativity, don’t they? Not only do we have to dream up big ideas, we also have to innovate new ways of executing them. And the sheer number of hours it takes to build a successful business can also lead to creative burnout, which is, of course, counter-intuitive.

“Creativity is a process that you can’t force,” says Molly Reynolds, cofounder and host of The Unicorn in the Room. “You have to know it’s a process and respect that process. But there are certainly some ways to set yourself up for success.”

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Reynolds was a professional musical theatre actor and continues to study dance and fine art in her spare time. Her love of the creative process spurred the creation of The Unicorn in the Room, an online resource for entrepreneurs.

Having interviewed business icons, such as Arianna Huffington and John Paul Dejoria, as well as top executives from GE, PwC, Forbes, Chobani and Heineken, Reynolds has identified these key ways to top business minds stay creative.

Related: 8 Creativity Lessons from a Pixar Animator

Here they are, in no particular order:

1Buy an alarm clock

alarm clock

Rest is a crucial part of the creative process and as Arianna Huffington will tell you, keeping your cell phone next to your bed while you sleep is a bad thing. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 44 percent of cell phone owners keep their favorite handheld next to them as they sleep to make sure they don’t miss an important call. But this is an extremely unhealthy habit to get into.

“So many people tell me they’ve got creative burnout, and almost all of them check their emails before they go to bed, first thing when they wake up, and yes, even in the middle of the night,” says Reynolds. “I used to do it too and the longer term effects are never good.”

Cellphones, TVs, tablets and other gadgets with LED screens all emit blue light that can inhibit our production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. The blue light can also trick our bodies into thinking that it’s daylight and interfere with our sleep cycles. Worse than that? An overheating cellphone in your bed could even set your pillow on fire!

People will use the excuse that they need their phone as an alarm clock. Newsflash: you can buy an alarm clock that is not a smartphone. Avoid bouts of insomnia and house fires by keeping your cell phone out of your bedroom.

2Get a variety of perspectives

Do you know why The Challenger mission failed? Lack of diverse thinking. While many reports have placed the blame on technical fault and cold weather, others suggest that the disaster could have been avoided. The engineering team was used to receiving orders from the top down. Despite being aware of the potential dangers, they went ahead and cleared the spacecraft for launch. The management team at NASA simply would not allow room for different perspectives or opinions.

GE is a company that is more than 100 years old, and the executives there are still learning so that they can continue innovating. In fact, they hold leadership summits, where they invite in a wide variety of companies and share their best practices.

With a culture of constant learning, GE wanted to see what they could learn from Silicon Valley culture. So, they partnered with author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries, to see how they could build innovation and fast work into their company core. Being open to change and new ideas is essential for companies to remain competitive and creative in shifting environments.

Related: Strategic Creativity Drives Growth

3Travel

There’s nothing like taking a timeout to get your creative juices flowing. Travel broadens the mind and exposes you to new and unfamiliar situations. You get to sample local cuisine, find out about different cultures and maybe even learn a language. All these experiences translate into enhanced problem solving skills and the ability to think creatively on your feet.

You might think that taking a sabbatical year to study Spanish in Barcelona or backpack around Southeast Asia is just an excuse for a time off. But there can be surprising benefits from taking yourself outside of your situation.

It might even become the catalyst for new success. Winston Chen decided to invent an app, just to have some fun while he was traveling. It turned out to be the start of his new career and company, voice-based mobile app, Voice Dream.

4Step away from the desk

Fitbit

“Getting a Fitbit actually made me a better problem solver,” Reynolds says.

“Before, I’d sit at my desk for hours trying to figure something out, but the thing buzzes me and makes me take a break to walk. Inevitably, as I’m walking, I figure out the problem more quickly.”

Do you know one of the least inspirational places for people to come up with creative solutions? The meeting room! That’s because we often need to get up and mobilize our bodies to get unblock our creativity. Steve Jobs was well known for his walking meetings, and Mark Zuckerberg reportedly likes to meet standing up as well.

There’s actually some science to back this up. Researchers at Stanford revealed that bursts of walking, whether indoors or outdoors, can help to boost our creative inspiration. So, when you come up against a case of writer’s block, or you simply feel like you’re staring into an abyss instead of your computer screen, get up and get moving!

5Draw your strategy

That’s right, draw your strategy. Don’t write it. This will cause your mind to think differently, which is a great way to shake up creativity. Expert on visual thinking, Dan Roam, worked as a consultant for some of the world’s largest companies, including Google, Sun Microsystems and eBay. He believes that one of the best ways to help people solve problems and contribute new ideas is by drawing them out.

In an interview with Business Insider, he said “taking advantage of our innate ability to see – both with our eyes and with our mind’s eye –  in order to discover ideas that are otherwise invisible, develop those ideas quickly and intuitively, and then share those ideas with other people in a way they simply ‘get.’”

Related: 10 Myths About Creativity You Need to Stop Believing Now

Get vulnerable

Lastly, says Reynolds, if you’re really committed to improving your creative mind in every one of these five steps, you need to allow yourself to get vulnerable. “Take a class that you would never think of taking, charcoal drawing, samurai sword fighting, tap dancing, whatever! You might feel ridiculous at first, and that’s a good thing. Having that vulnerability will remind you that you don’t have all of the answers and need to be open.”

According to David Brendel, of the Harvard Business Review, vulnerability can actually make you stronger. Things like apologising for errors, admitting when you’re wrong, or seeking help from others can all make you a better leader. When you allow yourself to be in a position where you’re learning something new, you leave yourself vulnerable to criticism and failure. Yet this learning process is all part of improving your creative mind and ongoing education.

So, watch your sleeping habits, and make sure you take breaks from your desk to leave room for inspiration to come through. Be open to travel, culture and new ideas, as well as using visual thinking. Do all that with a dose of vulnerability and an enquiring mind, and you’ll give yourself the innovation makeover you desperately seek.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Ben Simkin is the founder of BusinessNET, a leading Online Marketing Firm that to-date has increased clients' sales by over $1.45 billion. BusinessNET provide end-to-end marketing and sales services to established companies worldwide.

Self Development

(Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

From doing headstands to drinking 50 cups of coffee a day, check out the quirky things that these nine creatives have done.

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cat-in-the-hat

Coming up with new, creative ideas can be tricky. That’s why it’s important to find a way to get inspired. After all, it’s our own unique rituals that can bring mental clarity and creativity. That could be a quirky habit or routine such as doing headstands or wearing lots of hats.

Igor Stravinksy did headstands, which he believed helped to rest his head and clear his brain. Author Dr. Seuss felt that wearing lots of crazy hats helped inspire his creativity and overcome writer’s block. However, those aren’t even the strangest routines that some of the world’s most brilliant minds have utilised. Steve Jobs bathed his feet in toilet water to reduce stress levels while Honore de Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day.

Check out Business Backers infographic below to learn the weird ways that nine creative minds got their ideas.

1533319920_unusual-inspiration-infographic

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful.

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successful-people

Unstoppable people are like warriors. They are always ready to take on the world. They are guided by a light from within, full of boundless energy and unwavering in their goals. They have learned to activate their natural talents and develop the skills necessary to achieve whatever they aim for.

How do they do this? Where do they find the stamina and strength to keep going? Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful. Here are 15 traits that will help you go from being a solid achiever to being a truly unstoppable person.

Do you have any yet?

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Self Development

Why Confidence Is So Important In The Workplace

If you are not sure on how to gain confidence and are curious as to why it is so important in the workplace, read on for some helpful advice.

Amy Galbraith

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confidence

Confidence is not something that everyone has. Not all of us are able to walk into a room and exude charisma and panache, but confidence is a trait that can help immensely in the workplace. It can help you to interact with your colleagues, keep you motivated during stressful times and can also boost your productivity during the working day.

If you are not sure on how to gain confidence and are curious as to why it is so important in the workplace, read on for some helpful advice.

Why is confidence so important?

Assertiveness gives you an edge

Being assertive does not mean that you are aggressive or arrogant. Assertiveness means that you are able to take initiative on tasks and handle pressure without too much stress. It also means that you are willing to take on new challenges in the workplace.

Being confident and assertive will help you to reach new heights in your career. Your employer will notice that you are able to handle stressful tasks with ease and that you are able to create solutions to problems using your own ideas. Confidence will help to boost your performance in the office and this could, in turn, lead to a possible promotion as well.

Effective communication works wonders

Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is a major asset to have in any office. Having confidence allows you to do this easily, enabling you to effectively get your message across to colleagues and clients.

Putting forward an air of confidence when communicating might sound difficult at first, but if you practise, it will become easier. Communication skills are at the top of almost every employer’s list when it comes to recruiting new talent, and being self-confident will help to build these skills. A confident person believes in their communication abilities, which shows in their verbal and written language.

Productivity levels are boosted

If you are confident in yourself and in your work, you are more likely to be more productive. This is because you will not have to second-guess your work and you can complete tasks on time and on budget.

Productive workers are highly valued in any company, and confidence goes hand-in-hand with producing work. You will be able to take on more projects, challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone and reach new goals for your company. Your employer will notice that you produce high quality work and this could lead to new challenges, a role change and even a promotion.

Related: Entrepreneurs And A Politically Neutral Workplace – Finding The Perfect Balance

How to gain confidence in the workplace

Shift your views

Confident people rarely think about how others impact them, rather they think about the impact they have on others. In order to gain confidence, you will need to shift your views and think about how you can and do impact your colleagues.

This shift in view will empower you as you will realise that it is what you do that matters and not what others do to you. You should also look at how you handle pressure. If you are usually someone who needs guidance in difficult situations, try to change your viewpoint to seeing yourself as someone who can give advice in stressful times. A simple shift of view can help you to feel more self-confident, and others will soon follow suit.

Tell people you will finish the task

Feeling confident starts with stating your goals. Let people know that you will finish a task at work, and go on to finish that task. By voicing your goals to your team, you are holding yourself accountable, which will help to boost your confidence.

Saying your goals out loud will give you credibility and people will take note that you always stay true to your word. You must be sure that anything you take on can be finished by the deadline, otherwise incomplete tasks and a huge workload can diminish your confidence. Be sure to manage your time wisely and you will be able to finish any task you set your mind to.

Improve your knowledge

You can easily build your confidence by improving your knowledge and learning more. This can be done easily, by watching TED Talks on topics that interest you, attending seminars on how to build self-confidence or taking online courses in your field.

Confidence grows when you learn more about a topic that you enjoy or when you gain more skills in your field. You will also have new knowledge that can contribute to your position, which will help to boost your confidence too. It is never too late to learn something new and you should never let your age prohibit you from taking courses or going to seminars.

Final thoughts

Being confident can help in many ways in the workplace. You will be more productive, you will be able to communicate effectively and you will become more assertive too. These are all traits that employers look for in potential talent, so building your confidence is a win for both you and the company. Improve your knowledge, shift your views and hold yourself accountable in order to boost your confidence and enjoy work even more.

Read next: 3 Ways Workplace Gamification Can Backfire – And How To Avoid Them

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