Some people think of creativity and business as oil and water, two qualities that just don’t mix.
I disagree. In fact, no matter how big or small the organization is, I say creativity is essential at every level.
In this post, I’ll cover four areas where creativity and business should intersect, and I'll be looking at the role of creativity in small businesses as well.
Here to help me do that is Maiba, whose recent success on the UK charts is a testament to the importance of creativity in a crowded market.
Maiba’s recent single "Ego" reached number five on the British dance charts.
Related Article: Get In the Game: 4 Trending and Profitable Online Businesses
B.E.: You seem to be very business savvy. Were you always an entrepreneur as well as a musician?
Maiba: In my mind, yes, I always dreamed, read, learned and talked about the music business and my visions... But it took me some years after I really decided to give up any other "plan B“ and just dedicate myself totally to the music. That was when I started my own record label More Than Talent in 2015.
Let's now look at a few areas where creativity can have a huge impact on performance.
Boost Cross-Departmental Efficiency
One of the most important aspects of building and maintaining a profitable business is keeping up with your industry’s latest trends because doing so will help you stay ahead of your competitors. But implementing this advice isn’t always easy—far from it. Creative thinking—the ability to come up with novel ideas and ways of doing things—is an important part of staying one step ahead of the competition.
According to a study conducted by Adobe, 82 percent of firms believe there is a significant connection between creativity and business success. The study concludes that businesses that encourage cross-departmental interaction consistently outperform their competitors in market share, competitive leadership and revenue growth.
Encouraging your departments to share ideas and to work on some projects together might just give your business a boost at a critical juncture. Maiba’s relatively small operation certainly benefited from a cross-departmental interaction.
Related Article: 7 Trends Every Small Business Owner Needs to Watch in 2016
B.E.: You are at the top of the UK dance charts. How did you do it? Just a good song? Good marketing?
Maiba: The single "Ego“ was at the Top five of the British Dance Charts. I had other singles on the charts, too, but that one was the most successful. I think the songwriting (MAIBA) and the production (Thomas Godel) were really clear and up to date, people could also relate to the lyrics (I got many messages from female artist and friends, about how they love the powerful words and the strong message). Also, my team did the best to push it, even though at that time there was no big budget available. In the end, DJs in UK and Switzerland really seemed to like that song, so they keep playing it a lot in their sets.
Foster Business Culture
Business culture is the evolving set of collective beliefs, values, and attitudes that affect your day-to-day operation. It’s possible to have a positive business culture or a negative business culture. A few companies recognized as having a stellar business culture include:
- Warby Parker
- Southwest Airlines
If you dig into their stories a bit, you will find that creativity plays a large role. If you want to welcome creativity into your business world, the first step is identifying the creative needs of key team members. You’ve probably noticed that your employees have distinct work styles, but what you may not have noticed is that they’re inspired in different ways as well. Providing this inspiration is the bedrock of a creative business culture.
Here are a few quick ideas to help you along:
- Give your team some time outdoors. The monotony of office space can drain the creative batteries. Outside time creates space for original ideas to bubble up from the subconscious.
- Create private workspaces. The mind only has so much bandwidth. When employees are crammed into a room full of cubicles, they have to deal with the constant hubbub—data that is irrelevant to them. By offering private working spaces, you can ensure your employees have quiet spaces in which to think.
- Don’t go too crazy with the ‘think outside the box’ paradigm. Some people work better when given clear boundaries or parameters. Identifying the approach to take comes down to knowing your team.
- Be Flexible. On the other hand, don’t be so set in your ways that you think a concrete plan from the outset is the only way to go. Many naturally creative people perform at their peak when they go into a project without a clear strategy.
Make the Most of Mentors
Most businesses have a guy or gal who serves as a mentor within the organization. That person may be an owner, a CEO or even a long-standing employee. You can make the most of this inspirational figurehead by allowing them to interact with your team in more creative ways. The more unusual the setting, for instance, the more likely your employees are to retain the message.
Related Article: Be Authentic: How to Grow Your Business with Storytelling
The resident mentor can also take a more active role in encouraging creativity. Here are a few ideas:
- Ask them to always give feedback on new ideas. Ask the mentor in your organization to make a point of giving feedback right away, 100 percent of the time if possible. This will reassure your team feels that their ideas are valued, which will, in turn, spur the creative process.
- Reward collaboration. Two heads are better than one, right? Ask your resident mentor to encourage collaboration and give them the power to reward it when they see it. The reward can be as small as a free lunch at the best restaurant in town. It doesn’t have to be big.
- Have them help employees put their creative work in context. It’s one thing to have a creative idea, it’s another to put that idea into context for senior executives. Your resident mentor can help bridge the gap between the way executives think and the way employees think. For instance, executives tend to think in terms of years while employees tend to look for fixes to “right now” problems. Your mentor can be an important mediator between these two extremes.
B.E.: Do you have any music mentors?
Maiba: I have a friend with who I spent hours analyzing music. I think I learned a lot from this session. Also, my producer Thomas Godel taught me a lot about getting famous and how to handle the upcoming ups and down, so I guess I'm kinda ready for it.
B.E.: Where can everyone hear your music and follow you?
Maiba: Find me in all online stores and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You can download digitally in online stores like Amazon and iTunes, or stream my music on Spotify and Deezer. In Europe you can even get the album as a physical CD, coming with a beautiful booklet with pics of me and all my song lyrics.