5 Creative Exercises for Entrepreneurs… Looking back. Looking forward.


What did you enjoy doing as a child?

I found a very interesting article in http://www.entrepreneur.com the other day, and wanted to tell you about it, because it gets away from the traditional methods of thinking of a business idea, developing a business plan and going to the bank or backer to see what they think. The creative techniques proposed in the article, plus my further ideas and adaptations on the subject below, will help you to determine what you want to do, how you want to do it, and to get out there and do it – to test the market. We know that bankers or business advisors are not always known for being creative, visionary people, and sometimes they can quash an idea before it gets of the ground. So, if you want to go it alone, to become master of your own destiny, try these exercises, and see if you can make it happen, before they can!So let’s imagine that you’ve decided that you want to start a business but you are not sure what you can do. You may have certain skills you know you’re good at but perhaps you think you cannot make a business out of them. You may have worked in a particular career for the last 20 years and are desperate to change directions, or you may just feel like a change!Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th century British Prime Minister, once said, “Man is only great when he acts from passion.”

For today’s aspiring entrepreneur, exploring avenues of creativity to find your passion is likely to be the quickest route to increase your chances of launching a successful business. So where do you start? Here are five exercises to help you uncover your passion.
Exercise 1 – Revisit your childhood. What did you love to do?
Sometimes you can forget the things that brought you the most joy. We think of the practical rather than the things we love doing.So make a list of all the things you remember enjoying as a child. Would you enjoy that activity now? For example, Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s greatest architect, played with wooden blocks all through childhood and perhaps well past it.Research shows that there is much to be discovered in play, even as adults. Here’s a link to a great TED video from Tom Brown of IDEO which discusses the importance between creativity and play.Revisit some of the positive activities, foods and events of childhood. Can they be translated and added into your life now? How can those past experiences shape your career choices now? I am sure that those of you with children of a certain age, can already see through your children’s activities, what they might be interested in as adults, in terms of the things they enjoy doing, the way that they do them and the pleasure derived from them. So although we always say “It’s never too late” it’s also “never too young” Here are some great examples of  “child entrepreneurs” who found their passion very young and got started immediately.
Exercise 2 – Make a Creativity Board.
Start by taking a large poster board, put the words “New Business” in the centre and create a collage of images, sayings, articles, poems and other inspirations, suggests Michael Michalko, a creativity expert based in the US , and author of creativity books and tools, including ThinkPak.
Looking back, looking forwards…
“The idea behind this is that when you surround yourself with images of your intention — who you want to become or what you want to create — your awareness and passion will grow,” Michalko says.As your board evolves and becomes more focused, you will begin to recognize what is missing and imagine ways to fill the blanks and realize your vision. (In the business world we call this “gaps in the market” or possible “niche markets”)
Exercise 3 – Make a list of people who are where you want to be.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Study people who have been successful in the area you want to pursue.For example, during the recession, many people shied away from the real estate market because they thought it was a dead-end. However, some people believe that it’s  the perfect time to jump in — when most others are bailing out and for those who stay working in the market, what techniques do they use to survive, to make the difference? Study them, figure out how and why they are able to remain successful when everyone else is folding and then set up structures to emulate them. Then perhaps think about an initial plan of action. How might you attack the market. Be different. Create a new way of doing things using the techniques of those you admire?
Exercise 4 – Take a break from business thinking.While it might feel uncomfortable to step outside of “business mode”, the mind sometimes needs a rest from such bottom-line thinking. Whenever I work with students of professionals who are blocked for ideas. I tell them to go and do something different, something like going for a walk in nature, painting, doing a sport, a hobby, listening to music…
Take a break...
After you have taken a break by indulging in something you’re passionate about, coming back to your business note-book and write down any business ideas that have come to mind.You’ll be amazed at how refreshed your ideas are. Doing something different, looking at beautiful things, doing something we enjoy, creates connections that we often neglect to notice. Notice them, capture them in writing and use them.”
Exercise 5 – Start doing what you love, even without a business plan
A lot of people wait until they have an extensive business plan written down, along with Business Angels wanting to throw cash at them – and their ideas never see the light of day.Be brave. Do what you enjoy, even if you haven’t yet figured out how to make money from it. Test what it might be like to work in an area you’re passionate about, build your business network and ask for feedback that will help you develop and refine a business plan.It’s a way to not only show the value you would bring to the market, but you can also get testimonials that will help launch your business when you’re ready to make it official.Perhaps the most important thing it will bring is a sense of confidence and enjoyment. The negative notions of fear will have transformed into “I can do it!”  and the joy of seeing the difference your contribution makes will fuel your creativity. At this point, these initial experiences will give you more power, ambition and drive to get out there and secure funding for your new project.
And now let’s get down to business…So by now, you will have more ideas about what you would like to do, how you might like do to it, and you may have already tested the market with your ideas.At this stage, this is where experts, backers and bankers and business advisors may be very helpful, and indeed, crucial to the development of your business. We all know that finding your passion is not always enough to get your business off the ground. It also depends on how ambitious you are for your business. Do you want to let it just tick over giving you enough money to live comfortably each month, or do you want more than that?It’s for you to decide which path to go down now… whichever path you take. Good luck!
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