How I Learned To Bridge The Gap Between Creative Freedom and Business Strategy (Hint: Through Many Mistakes)
December 5, 2014
One of the most common lessons one learns while building his or her business is the importance of utilizing “strategic thinking” when making decisions for his or her business and brand. As artists, being strategic often sounds intimidating and even stifling. There’s a freedom in making in-the-moment decisions based on how one feels, but the truth is that thinking three steps ahead, while remaining open and flexible, is one of the major keys to success. From time to time, it’s inevitable that you may feel unable to plan perfectly for the future, but sitting down to think through potential challenges and to seek out desirable opportunities is a great way to ease anxiety and develop a full understanding of where you have been and where you want to go (and where you don’t). When we only focus on what is directly in front of us, we often throw ourselves into survival mode, and consequently are more surprised by setbacks than we would have been if we had simply looked ahead. And even worse, we miss the chance to lead our teams.
Here are a few ways I have learned to look ahead while still staying in the moment. I hope they will help you brainstorm ways to create and follow your own path to success.
Pay Attention To Your Industry and It’s Players: Read up on what’s happening in our industry and who is moving in what direction. Reach out and create connections with colleagues. Find ways to collaborate and give credit to those who may be looked at as competition. Realize that there is room for all of us and thus it is not a mistake to work together and be inspired by one another.
Don’t Get Caught On Small Hooks: As teams grow, opinions and the egos tied to them tend to grow as well. There’s a difference between brainstorming and arguing to be right. As business leaders, it’s our responsibility to create an environment that allows room for all players to share their talents and ideas, but also to lead them all in the right direction. By allowing a combination of independence and structure, both the team moving into the right direction, which is the one that is most positive for the team and the brand. Look for petty disagreements between players and bring them into the open, seek solutions to problems, work to calm unnecessarily contrary behaviors, and ask the right questions to keep conversations moving in a productive direction. What do you think? Why do you think this? How will this help our business meet our expectations and those of our clients?
Don’t Guess, Get Facts: I personally love to brainstorm with my team, especially when creating designs. That said, when it comes to making decisions that impact my team and my business, I have learned (through challenging trials and terrible errors) that not only is knowledge power, it’s the key to keeping your doors open. We live in the Information Age, and thus it’s possible to get “facts” instantaneously. Test theories, do your research, and encourage an atmosphere that welcomes challenges to the status quo.
Allow Room For Life: You can plan it all out and nothing you plan can come into fruition, or you can wing it and hit a home run. Life does not always follow the rules we create and it’s important to remain open to the fact that we may face hard times. We all will have disagreements, “designer’s block”, and many of the other human experiences we often assume stop coming our way when we are “successful”. Just do your homework; do the very best you can with the information you have without over or under thinking.
Finally, Follow Your Own Beat: If you feel something is right, do it. The worst thing that can happen is that it will teach you a great lesson.
What are your ideas for balancing creativity and order to run your business effectively?
Photo Courtesy of Beautiful Bridges Around the Globe