The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to adapt or make major changes. The challenges presented required leaders to think creatively in order to solve problems and generate new ideas that can keep their companies competitive.
Now with record numbers of people starting businesses and entrepreneurial veterans trying to stay afloat, creative problem-solving is a key separator between success and failure – and in many cases requires an inventor-like mindset, says Jarl Jensen, the founder and president of Inventagon and the holder of several medical technology patents.
“You don’t necessarily have to be born with creativity. Many people have the potential to be creative; it just needs to be nurtured and strengthened. Right now we’re in an exciting place of both invention and reinvention. While you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you do need to tap into creativity to stand apart, gain traction, and grow your business in an ultra-competitive environment.”
Jensen offers these tips on how entrepreneurs can become more creative and solve problems as a result:
Be prolific – and patient – with ideas. When the proverbial light bulb goes on, it doesn’t always mean the entrepreneur has had an epiphany that will lead to riches. “If you want a good idea to start a business and build it, the most important ingredient is the love of many ideas,” Jensen says. “Because very few ideas are actually good, so you will need the patience to sort through many of them.”
Learning how to habitually plant the seeds to create ideas is the key, he says.
“Take the time to daydream on a regular basis,” Jensen says. “Visualize all the places an idea can take you. See all the people it could help. We’ve been conditioned to think we’re wasting time when we sit idle and daydream, but it is exactly the opposite. Having quiet time to clear your mind and think freely opens the mind to great possibilities.”
Collaborate; don’t make it all about your own brainstorm. Jensen says the typical novice entrepreneur will want to file patents and rent out office space as the rush of a new idea takes over their imagination. But he cautions, “Don’t be foolish about your idea; it needs time to prove itself worthy of an investment.”
Engaging others around you in discussion about the idea is imperative, Jensen says, because it results in different viewpoints, new angles, and perhaps a more refined idea that can work.
“Collaboration that drives a company forward includes the sharing of and disagreement over ideas,” he says. “It’s the vigorous discussion, the opposing voice that helps refine and improve ideas. An effective partnership stimulates creativity and builds trust among team members that each is encouraged to contribute creatively.”
Stay focused. “It’s easy to waste time with too many ideas that are not going to work for you and your business,” Jensen says. “Know your company’s North Star – its mission statement – and what it needs to succeed. Does your idea align with your North Star? Adapt the solution to the problem. Shift negative thoughts into a positive mindset to provide concentration and clarity.”
“Your success as an entrepreneur is largely contingent on your ability to solve problems effectively,” Jensen says, “and the best tool you have is your creativity, and knowing how to cultivate it and harness it.”