How to ditch the daily grind and get creative to drive growth

Azadeh Williams

Andy Warhol famously said: “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

But in reality, what does creative thinking really mean to businesses caught up in the daily grind?

According to Constantine Frantzeskos, CEO and founder of creative advertising agency PENSO, in business it’s actually less erudite and more about mastering the art of process.

Frantzeskos, who’s also a board member of entrepreneurial and start-up ecosystem LaunchVic, says the key to success is to examine four areas of growth and think creatively about how they could be a lever for your business.

“Firstly, you need to look at your brand growth,” he says. “What makes your brand memorable? How many people have you reached?”

Secondly, he suggests you need to channel your growth and discover where people are really accessing your product or service and discover whether you can find new and innovative ways to access more customers.

“You then need to look at your product growth and whether you can really stretch and innovate your business,” he says. “Do you have an elite service? Are you offering amazing design? Are you delivering truly innovative products?”

Finally, he recommends start-ups to look at connections growth and whether you’ve really taken the time to understand your customer.

“To do this, you need to look at whether you’ve used your data to understand more about the market and whether you’ve tracked competitors and category changes,” he explains. “Then you need to look creatively at leading and building a competitive advantage in any or all of these areas.”

”Creativity is often just having the guts to take a risk. We all have creative moments, we just shut most of them down before they see the light of day.”

The creative talent pool

When it comes to building a creative talent pool within your business, Frantzeskos believes any person who’s curious, smart, obsessive, hard-working and resourceful has elements of creativity.

“But the challenge with hiring creative people is that without a bold vision, a tightly defined brief for success, and the right resources to let them get the job done, they’ll fail - but then again, so will your organisation,” he says.

Jon Skinner, creative partner at advertising firm The Core Agency, agrees. He says a creative talent pool is a necessity in every business whether new or old, big or small.

“For a tech start-up that could mean hiring a cutting edge user interface designer, or for an established restaurant it could mean hiring a funky new chef,” he says. “If your product isn’t your key point of difference your ability to refresh or recreate your offering through creative thinking has to be.”

“You can’t outspend the big guys, so it comes down to being more agile, more daring and ultimately more creative in both your marketing and your entire business ethos.”

Collaboration and creativity

Experts agree collaboration is vital to fuel creativity and drive innovation in start-ups.

For Frantzeskos, a scalable start-up can only be possible through fuelling ideas and generating fresh perspectives via networking.

“It’s impossible to scale a start-up, or to know even a fraction of what your business will do without collaborating,” he says.

Most people who start a business have been thinking about it for their whole lives and have a backlog of ideas they wish to put into action, he says.

“Then they start it and all of those ideas get sucked into a vortex - some survive and prosper, some stagnate, and some fail,” he says. “Therefore, it’s vital to have effective collaborators who provide new ideas, inspiration and creativity.”

Skinner agrees. He says by definition, entrepreneurs come pre-programmed with ample confidence, so many think they can do everything themselves.

“My recommendation would be to outsource the strategy, creative and production to a proven team who bring an outside perspective to the business,” he says. “If you write a clear and defined brief you’ll get surprising, engaging, and effective work.”

“So back yourself, have a go and if it causes controversy, it’s probably working.”

It’s all about having the guts to take the risk

Mike Pritchett, co-founder and CEO of video production start-up Shootsta says the beauty of the start-up space is that risks can be taken, creativity embraced head on.

“Unlike large companies, we don’t have layers of approvals to get an idea through,” he says. “You can’t outspend the big guys, so it comes down to being more agile, more daring and ultimately more creative in both your marketing and your entire business ethos.”

According to Pritchett, without creatives and risk-takers on your team, you’ve got nothing and no one to work with.

“Creativity is often just having the guts to take a risk. We all have creative moments, we just shut most of them down before they see the light of day,” he says. “So back yourself, have a go and if it causes controversy, it’s probably working.”

Azadeh Williams

Azadeh Williams is a former business and finance news editor at Thomson Reuters, Azadeh Williams has written over 3,000 articles in her 15-year international career on business, technology, marketing and innovation for the likes of The Times, CMO Magazine and Fast Business. She has also lectured in business journalism and media law at Macleay College.

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