(From my response on joyofhumancapital.com.)
A. As I look around at the small business owners I’ve worked with (including myself) here’s what I see:
1. Creativity comes in all kinds and sizes of business, and so does failure of creativity.
2. Failure of creativity follows shifts in the attitudes of the owner and other key people
CREATIVITY KILLERS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
• Owners get dragged out of creativity by the demands of running the business day to day. This has a lot to do with your own management style. “ I can’t find good people that I can trust.” “I got into this business to do what I love; now I spend all my time as a damn manager.” Thus you are continually pulled back down into lower-level tasks, and can’t focus on creativity, vision, strategy.
• Lack of support. Nobody is pushing you to take the creative leap, nor problem solving how to overcome the hurdles. No-one following behind, handling the details, executing the vision.
• Lack of systems; seat-of-pants management. Thus your “franticness quotient” increases exponentially with growth.
• Ill-fitting systems. E.g., accounting or project management or sales tracking systems that don’t give needed performance information to the owner.
• Constraining systems. Too much “by the book” or “bean counter mentality.” Of course the owner has put these into place, but then starts believing in them.
• Failure of vision. A creative owner gets beaten down, burned out. You have one good idea, but stick with it long after the window of opportunity has slammed shut. Or you fear taking the needed next step. “Tried that, got beaten down, it didn’t work, now I’m gun shy.”
• You get out of touch. You drift into an eddy out of the current of new ideas and technologies. This can be related to age, but there are many creative codgers out there.
• You get too comfortable. The balance between work and life tips toward Maui.
• Physical/mental impairment. Alas, this eventually catches up with us. If you’re smart, you’ll go out at the top, handing the creative reins over to the young whippersnapper you’ve groomed—and whose ideas you probably hate.
What’s the answer? First, see if you spot yourself in the above list, and own up to it. Then you can tackle the problem.
— My book can help you tackle this challenge: How to Grow Your Business without Driving Yourself Crazy.
— If you were a member of one of our business owner groups, this would be a perfect challenge to bring up to your group of peers. This is valuable because it’s often hard for us to see and acknowledge our part in this process.
— Call or email me. I’d be glad to talk with you a bit about this at no charge.