In a culture where startups are in brute competition with one another, creativity is what separates the success stories from the failures.
When your business is just starting out, it can feel difficult to implement or even give a second thought to creativity. You're pressured by competition, time restrictions and an overwhelming need to be productive.
But, what most people don't realize is that creativity can actually improve business processes.
"Creativity is intelligence having fun." – Albert Einstein
Today's startups exist in an increasingly sophisticated world. Stagnant, staid ideas just won't cut it anymore. The ability to think and act creatively is crucial. And yet, 75 percent of people feel they aren't living up to their creative potential.
In this article, we are going to show you how to break the status quo and encourage creativity in your startup.
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Let Your Employees Be Themselves
The more comfortable people are, the more creative they will be. One way to encourage the creativity of your employees as individuals is to ask for their opinions and ideas on how you can improve the business. However, it can be difficult to share creative ideas without an outlet to do so...
"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail." – Edwin Land
It can be difficult to speak up in an office environment through fear of having your idea shot-down. So, make it impossible for your employees to feel like they have failed when suggesting something to you. By providing a suggestion box, or letting your staff know that they can email you privately with ideas, you provide the confidentiality, and therefore, the confidence, for your employees to be themselves and voice amazing ideas.
It's important to remember that all ideas, no matter how crazy, must be acknowledged and rewarded in order to keep the creativity flowing. After all:
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." – Steve Jobs
Another way to let employees be themselves, and be more creative, is by ditching the formal dress code. Really, formal attire is only needed for meetings with clients and business partners—so why not ditch it for the everyday?
Let your employees wear what they want and you'll see their creative juices begin to flow.
"Creativity never goes out of style." – Anon
Routine stifles creativity because the brain becomes unchallenged. Obviously, some sort of routine is vital in a working environment, but there's no harm in playing around with this to see how and when you can break your routine.
Some workplaces feel that introducing the presence of nature reduces stress and increases creativity. Like Google's 'outdoors-in' environment:
It's highly unlikely that any startup company can afford a lovely 'outdoors-in' space like this, but you can still find a way to keep in touch with nature. Try walking to the local park for brainstorming sessions, or having meetings in coffee shops.
"Immersing yourself in nature is another way to get a creative breakthrough." – Christi Krug
Speaking of meetings, another way to break routine and increase creativity is to have walking meetings. Physical activity increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, increasing creativity. Plus, it's great to get away from your desk and stretch your legs for a while.
You can also break everyday routine by implementing hot desking. Hot desking means that anyone can sit anywhere. In some companies, this doesn't even mean sitting at a desk, it could refer to sitting on a sofa in the corner of the office, or on a window-seat. Hot desking is rising in popularity for two reasons:
- It is a free way for employers to give employees a better sense of freedom within the workplace
- It encourages collaboration, productivity and most importantly, creativity.
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Make the Office Creative
Think about it: you can't have creative people without a creative environment. Take a look at these examples from Pixar's offices:
The open spaces, funky colors and quirky toys reflect the amazing animated movies created by the company. Can you imagine Pixar creating movies like "Inside Out" in drab, white-walled offices?
Of course not.
Injecting color isn't the only way to make your office more creative. Encourage your employees to decorate the office with things that inspire them—such as quotes from people they admire, photos from previous social events, plants—anything that will help get their creative juices flowing.
Free-time has also proven to be essential for encouraging employees to be creative. It's no secret that huge companies, like Google, are fans of the '20 percent time' method—meaning employees can devote 1/5 of their working week (so effectively, one day) on projects that interest them.
It may seem difficult to encourage employees to have this much free-time, especially when you're a startup and it feels like you need all the time you can get. However, 20 percent time is a proven method. Some of the projects that Google colleagues have created in their 20 percent time include Gmail, AdSense and the adorable Santa Tracker.
Have Fun With It
Work is where people are spending the majority of their time, so why not make it fun? Having fun at work is proven to increase retention rates, which in turn, increases profits.
By fun, we don't mean pointless things like 'crazy hat day," which isn't really having fun at all, it's just wearing a crazy hat at work—"The Simpsons" showed us that:
Episode: "Marge Gets a Job"
Fun means doing things that you enjoy, together. This could be playing on a games console together at lunch, or organizing social events every now and then. Although social events don't make the everyday workplace more fun, they give employees something to look forward to, talk about, and laugh about afterwards.
"A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts." – Richard Branson
Related Article: 5 Up-and-Coming CEOs Setting the Standard for "Creative"
Creativity in the workplace is everything. It really can make the difference between an innovative workplace filled with hard-working, passionate individuals and every other startup out there. With startup businesses being created everyday, it's important to stand out to survive–creativity can help you do this.