Wyoming Business Tips for Oct. 30

October 24, 2011

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Anya Petersen-Frey, WSBDC regional director

"What does creativity in the workplace really mean?" Jake, Basin

Creativity can be defined in different ways. I define it as the thought process that leads to value-added innovation. Creativity is asking why rather than accepting the status quo.

Wayne Rogers, formerly of M.A.S.H. television fame, left full-time acting to become an entrepreneur. He has owned vineyards, restaurants and produced plays. In an interview in the August edition of Success magazine, he shares the importance of taking a creative approach to business rather than an administrative one.

"If you take a creative approach, you question every step of the process . If you do that it will release imaginative solutions; that's what inventors do. If you approach the business from an administrative angle, you take what is served up to you. You do it and don't think about alternative ways to do it," he says.

No matter the size of a business, even if it is a one-person operation, an atmosphere of innovation can flourish. As an owner, find mentors and other business owners to share ideas. Develop a solution-centered mindset that allows you to constantly re-evaluate what is working well and what is not. Encourage employees to think about and share ideas without fear of judgment.

Many people might say that "they are not creative," but that is usually not true -- it just takes some time to coax them into sharing ideas and getting past the fear of "getting it wrong" or "looking foolish."

Here are a few steps to incorporate creativity into your business life:

-- Increase the visual stimuli of your physical space. In the workplace add some color, reconfigure space -- visuals inspire people to think differently.

-- Think long term and communicate.

-- Make customers your innovation partners. How could you improve your product service from their perspective?

-- Before reaching closure on a course of action, seek alternatives and diverse viewpoints.

-- Do not focus on growth. Growth is an outcome of success innovation. Focus on becoming adept at taking ideas from generation to marketplace. Be flexible.

-- Remove whatever obstacles are in the way of people communicating new ideas. And have fun.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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