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6 Easy ways to apply creativity to your business

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When I get a creative idea, it feels like the inside of my brain is having a fireworks display. Little pockets of colour and excitement explode non-stop and the only way to calm this euphoric sensation is by executing my idea. Sometimes it is easy to bring the idea to life, sometimes the execution becomes an experiment. Either way, I love this process. It allows me to explore unchartered territory, or even unusual ways of doing things.

In business, creativity is non-negotiable. In fact, I would dare to say…you cannot build a successful business or brand without it. I believe many businesses struggle because they have not struck a balance between good business practices and creativity. Not just creativity in the sense of a creative product, but applying creative thinking and creativeness in every area in business.

It is imperative that we constantly find creative ways of selling and building our brand. If we want to stand out from the crowd, we need to be different. Being different requires ingenuity. Standing out sometimes means swimming upstream.

A great example of constantly applying creativity in business is the Sir of business himself – Richard Branson. He has built an empire based on creativity and resourcefulness.

Let’s look at the word, creativity:

Creativity – the ability to create; the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness

Guess from which source I derived the above meaning? You guessed it, Google! One of the most creative companies of the modern-day world.

In my own business, I have to constantly look at new and creative ways of growing my brand and business.

Let us look at 6 easy ways of boosting creativity in your business…

1. Creative thinking

Take time during the day and dedicate it specifically to creative thinking. A practical example could be to keep an idea box. Write down your ideas (even if they seem far-fetched), and regularly re-visit them. Keep this box in a communal area and encourage your employees to use this system to also encourage team spirit.  Do not allow the box to gather dust! Open it at your weekly team meetings and try to apply at least one of these ideas per month. You could also keep it anonymous to refrain from judgmental tendencies.

2. Play area

Dedicate a communal area in your office for them to relax and “play” in. Make it as interesting and stimulating as possible with bold wall colours and comfortable seating. A great example of this is again Googleplex in California. It is a place of complete delight and bliss. According to research, creating an interesting environment for staff members will also decrease absenteeism. Research also shows that mental breaks and playtime increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.

3. Revisit product/service

Revisit your product or service and gauge it in the market. Study your competitors as well as general businesses who are reaching success in the market. Come up with new ways of selling your product to the market. I recently visited Expresso, South Africa’s first R10 coffee shop. It is a brilliant concept that sells great quality coffee and pastries at only R10 per serving!  I immediately fell in love with the brand as I find comfort in the fact that everything in store is R10. As a consumer I could feel the tangible generosity of the brand as I am receiving great value, at a great price!

4. Give them web-time

Yes! Allow them to play on the internet for a certain amount of time per day to research sales strategies and study the brand giants. Web platforms like Google and YouTube can be very resourceful to small businesses especially. We all use the phrase “Google it”. Although we do not encourage employees to spend hours upon hours playing senselessly on the internet, your business and sales can benefit exponentially from this exercise, done within limits.

5. Appoint a CCO (Chief Creative Officer) 

Give this informal title to your most creative employee. This is not a formal job position. It gives room for the staff member to constantly seek creative solutions. This could be a roving title as it spreads the responsibility and also motivates team spirit. Allow this person regular access to different departments to see how the operations work. This promotes transparency and allows them to find creative suggestions for streamlining operations and sales.

6. Forget about budget

Yes, I said it…forget the numbers! Do not let the lack of money and resources dampen your ideas or strategy. Most small business owners struggle with working capital and this can be quite disheartening. You are not alone…cheer up! Instead opt to implement the same idea with the money and resources available. If the idea is really good and you see benefit in it, try and raise the money to roll it out. Or put it on the back burner till you have the cash!

Because I sell a physical product, I need to apply creativity above all else when I design a new furniture piece. I pride myself on designing unique and exclusive items, thus I have to apply some of these above-mentioned ways to bring my designs into being and to market.

As in life, there are no guarantees, except if you diligently apply them, and almost force yourself out of your comfort zone, your business will start seeing growth.

As I mentioned earlier, fireworks are synonymous with celebrations and milestones. So my conclusion is that your creative ideas should be celebrated. They need to be brought to life…by you!

Lizl Naude is the founder of Lilly Loompa in South Africa, a company that creates beautiful and usable furniture pieces made with recycled material. Lilly Loompa’s “Rubbish Range” is the result of Lizl’s craving to deliver pieces that are completely “green”. Lizl is a self taught designer and started designing and making furniture because she couldn’t afford to buy new pieces to furnish her home. She started to scout and source for budget material and quickly realised that most people discard of very usable materials. This led to her building and designing beautiful furniture items that she used in her home.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM |  Read Lizl’s startup story here.

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Today was an exceptional day: I met my cyber-buddy face-to-face!

Since I started blogging a whole new world has opened for me.  I met some wonderful people on-line and today I met my first cyber-buddy face to face!

Namita Lad (whatlifesays.wordpress.com) and I met last year, on-line.  We immediately connected and had a lot of similiar interests and viewpoints.  We both were also relatively new to the blogging world.  She lives in India.  Imagine my surprise when she announced she is coming to Joburg, South Africa for a whole year on a work assignment!

We stayed connected and really tried to meet, but you know how it goes.  Time passed and life became busy.  But alas!  Today we met in person!  Whoop-whoop!

Namita and I

Namita and I

Now, obviously it is a bit nerve-wracking to meet new people, especially when you have created this on-line persona of yourself.  You wonder if this person would accept you and identify with the one she met on-line.  So I was a bit nervous!

Luckily, she was all that I expected and more.  She is warm and friendly and very open to living in SA (even if only for a while).

Ironically her office is situated in the city so we are literally a few kilometers away from each other. It was great!  We had lunch and chatted like old buddies!

Here’s to a many more Namita!  Let’s go to Parys soon ok?

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For the love of Harties

I have been hiding from Cyberspace and the blogging world for a few weeks now.

* been extremely busy…not intentional, I promise.

An immense workload have been consuming my time.  So much so that my body signaled me to take a break today.  Sometimes we need to listen to our bodies.

Anyway, in short I am project managing a new build in another province, in the holiday town of Hartbeespoortdam or Harties (pronounced ~ har-tees).

A few months ago…

Now…

We’re about 75% done and I have literally a few days to hand-over!  When I am not on site managing the work, I am on the road sourcing products.  My best friends are my cellphone hands-free kit and my diary! *I so need an iPad!

The pressure is on!

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I am a brand…

Brand ~ {A brand is a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Branding began as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp} (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand)

I, Lizl Naude, am a brand, whether intentional or not.  Just like Coca Cola or Samsung, I am a brand. I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  For the last decade especially we have advanced tremendously on the techno front.  We have much more of an on-line presence than we have in the physical realm.  We have tons of friends on social networks, and interact with them daily.  But do we realise we are building our personal brand with what we say and do in this public space?

Whatever I do and say, whatever my opinion, whatever my mood…I am shaping my brand.  How much thought goes into what I put out there?

I was watching SA Idols the other day and was reminded of this very topic when a contestant had a bad audition and the judge reminded them of how he is shaping his brand right now.  Whatever we do, whether good or bad, has an effect on what people start thinking and believing of us.

It is a powerful concept if you think about it.  If I mention for instance, Jacob Zuma (SA president), certain things come to mind.  Good or bad, his actions and words have shaped a brand in our (South African) minds.  I mention, Monica Lewinsky, you immediately think – scandal! Scary, but true.  We tend to remember the bad rather than the good.

This is serious stuff…careful thought needs to go into what I say and what I do.  Integrity should be on top of my list.  My yeh should be my yeh and my neh, should be neh.

I wrote down a few guidelines to remind MYSELF when I forget (use it, or don’t…up to you):

1. When you update a status, tweet or post a blog, think about what you want people to take from it. Think of it as being on stage and you having your own show i.e speaking your mind. What do you want your social audience to hear? This will guide you when you write.

2. I realise my social presence has been created for me to speak my mind, but how much of my mind do I want to put “out there”? Do I want everyone to know what colour undies I am wearing, or is it totally irrelevant? No offense, but some people really have no discretion when they say certain things! (Maybe I have done so too, come to think of it!)

3. Crude language is extremely distasteful! Also, inappropriate images and pictures…these all add up to your position as a brand.

4. I realise each of us have our own audience…but always think of how to gain more followers. Note down what you stand for and stick to that. Stick to your principles and state your opinion in a tasteful, respectful manner. I am all for expressing yourself, but just do so appropriately.

image courtesy of  http://www.time.com/time/

Time is always elapsing…and as it passes on, I either grow or I die.  When I die, how do I want people to remember me?  Some food for thought.

How do you feel about this argument?

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