Surviving tough times using creative thinking

- February 9, 2009 3 MIN READ

In the grip of tough times, many accept the apparent fact that business is going to be tough for a while. Others choose to believe that challenging times create opportunities for creative thinking. It’s all in the way you look at it.

No doubt some businesses won’t survive the coming months. Those that do will be the ones who use this time as an opportunity for creative thinking and a time to look at what they can do to stand out from the crowd. They’ll work out how to be smarter, faster, more professional or they’ll market their businesses in unique and innovative ways.

Now could be an ideal time to break free from self imposed restrictions and consider what could be possible if you changed the rules about the way you do business?

Keep it fresh

Being in business means being flexible. Most of my small business clients tell me that the business plan they wrote when they started out is no longer relevant. A business plan should be a work in progress and to keep your business fresh, it’s important to continually challenge the assumptions you make and ensure you’re at the cutting edge in your industry.

Be unique

Spend some time reviewing what your competitors are doing and think about how your business can be unique. Find a point of difference that makes you stand out in the crowd – something that tells your clients who you really are is often a good place to start.

When I commenced my coaching business nearly seven years ago, the only other coaches around were mostly goals oriented. I added meditation to my offering and it gave me the opportunity to work with clients around their business goals and their life balance, giving my business a point of difference.

Create bold goals

When we set goals in business, we generally do so in a fairly practical manner. We create objectives that are achievable and realistic. We think in terms of incremental, manageable growth. But what could you achieve if you allowed yourself to use creative thinking and believe that anything at all is possible? Even in the current tough times.

Want more articles like this? Check out the innovation section.

A few years ago I chose a ‘dream’ figure for my target income for the month. It was well over double anything I had ever earned. I wrote down that this was my goal, not knowing how I could possibly achieve it. And the strangest thing happened. The following day the phone rang and I was invited to participate in a national advertising campaign over the coming year and the fee proposed was exactly what I had written down!

Miracles do happen but I believe you need to play an active part in creating a space where you’re open to change. You could begin by doing this physically – tidying your desk, organising a more efficient filing system or creating some simple systems to streamline your business. Or you can do it metaphorically through creative thinking.

  • Grab a big sheet of paper and some coloured textas and prepare a mind map of your business vision for the next six months. Make sure you include projects that really inspire you, not just the stuff that you feel you should be doing.
  • Write down five ‘dream’ goals, the goals you would have if there were no boundaries.
  • Write down at least three limiting beliefs you have about business. e.g. there’s no money around at the moment.
  • Think up five new marketing strategies that will challenge your limiting beliefs and that get you doing something completely different (note: it’s a limiting belief to think ‘I couldn’t do that because I’m not creative’).
  • Challenge yourself to continue using creative thinking by doing something different every day this month. Take a different form of transport, read a book that you wouldn’t otherwise read, try a new cuisine, listen to different music. Opening your mind to possibilities is a great way of enabling you to be more creative.