My name is Harrison Woods, and I’m the co-founder of YourParkingSpace.co.uk, the fastest growing parking pre-book platform in the UK, currently generating close to 1million in gross revenue each month.
Over the past 4 years consistent hard work, curiosity and a desire to learn everyday and put our ideas to the test have helped us to bring the business to where it is today.
In my opinion, you can’t be a successful entrepreneur without a creative, inquisitive mind. I’d like to share 7 habits for small business owners to be more creative:
Travel, and learn to think beyond your own culture
Each and every one of us was born in a specific country, in a specific town, in a specific family. Sometimes, it can be difficult to think beyond your culture and understand other people’s ideas and opinions. I think you should travel as much as possible, to broaden your horizons and discover new ways of thinking.
Meeting people from all walks of life can help you become more creative, because you’ll hear and see things you never previously considered possible. Travelling is a great way to meet new people who will inspire you.
The importance of play
Charles Eames famously said “Take your pleasure seriously.” This is exactly what small business owners should try to do to be more creative. Think about your project as a game. You should stay focused, and you can work as hard as you want, but your job should always be something you look forward to everyday, or else 1. You’ll feel stressed out, and you’ll be less efficient, and 2. This will damper your creative mind.
Try to smile in the face of adversity; if somebody says no to you, or if you didn’t manage to achieve one of your goals, don’t take it personally. You can’t be successful 100% of the time, nor can you please everyone. If you understand that, you’ll spend less time pondering on setbacks and more time trying to come up with new, creative ideas.
Know and accept when you’re wrong
When one of your ideas doesn’t work out, you should pause for a second, come to the conclusion that you were wrong, and accept it. Nobody is always right; that’s impossible. By accepting that your idea wasn’t the best, you’ll come up with a much better one the next time. You can’t create fantastic things if you can’t see when an idea leads you into a dead end. You must notice the flaws in your strategy to come up with the right ideas that will help you reach your goals and potential.
If someone else was right, and you have to confess it, so be it. As Harry S Truman once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Which leads me to…
Learn to delegate, and ask for your colleague’s advice and opinion
You can’t be creative if you don’t learn to delegate some of your tasks to your employees. As a small business founder, you need to be able to use your full creative potential to come up with ideas that will make your business achieve greater success. You can’t do that if you constantly have to micro-manage everything, and everybody.
You should hire people that you can trust, and who won’t hesitate to help you, even if you ask them to do something that’s not necessarily part of their job.
Ask for your employees’ opinion. The more ideas you share among yourselves, the better your chances are of coming up with great new concepts.
Talk to people
Our society has become very individualistic, and people don’t talk as much face to face as they used to. Don’t be shy: talk to your neighbours in the elevator, to your cab driver, to people sitting at the table next to you in a restaurant. It’s nice to speak with people, and it’s a great way to be inspired.
It’s amazing how many great ideas you can come up with when you take the time to have a conversation with strangers, and listen to them.
Of course, read, go to the movies, visit museums
Like most people, I lead a busy life and I don’t always have time to open a book, sit down and read for one hour. Needless to say, we live in an era where we’re constantly distracted and stimulated by screens, news and social media.
But I do believe it’s important to make the effort to buy a book, go see a new movie in a proper cinema (not on Netflix), attend concerts or visit art galleries to cultivate your creativity.
It’s impossible to create anything if you don’t look at what others have achieved in their lifetime. You must actually look at what has been done before to prepare for the future.
Keep a busy mind, but learn to disconnect too
You should keep a busy mind, but you should also learn to turn it off sometimes. We’re bombarded with information all day, and as a small business entrepreneur, it’s too easy to work non-stop until 3am everyday. Soon enough, you have no life, and relationships with loved ones may suffer.
Your brain should rest sometimes. Play a video game, read a comic book, watch a B movie, work out, meditate. Do whatever it takes for you to relax and think about something else than your business.
Being an entrepreneur is stressful. if you’re tense 24/7, you won’t be able to find any creativity.
Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things
Many people are afraid to try new things because they’re scared of what people might think. This is really bad for your creative mind. Don’t be scared to express an idea, even if you think it’s possibly dumb. Did it sound ridiculous? Was it a bad idea actually? So what?
Often you’ll need to have 20 bad ideas before you have a good one. This is part of the creative process, and you should embrace it!