Entrepreneurship is a complex career path. There are many qualities that can help individuals along the journey, such as passion and determination. However, one attribute in particular should be valued above all others: creativity.
Phoebe Cade Miles, board president and CEO of the Cade Museum and daughter of Gatorade inventor Dr. James Robert Cade, is one such believer in the power of creativity. She watched her father work tirelessly to invent a product that, five decades after its introduction, is still used by athletes around the world.
"The invention of Gatorade is a perfect example of a creative collision," Cade Miles told Business News Daily. "It took experts from two seemingly unrelated subjects, nephrology and football, to bring about the completely new category of sports beverages."
Cade Miles and Ron Ben-Zeev, founder and CEO of World Housing Solution, shared their thoughts on why creativity is such a powerful entrepreneurial force, and how it can best be harnessed in a startup setting.
Creativity is a bigger predictor of success in life than intelligence.
Most educational institutions and businesses still value intelligence over creativity. However, intelligence is subjective, and creative individuals can bring great benefits to a company when that creativity is properly harnessed.
"It's like the street-smart versus book-smart debate – a person considered intelligent in New York City could die in the Amazon jungle if he or she does not have the knowledge needed to survive in that environment," Ben-Zeev said.
Creativity needs structure to flourish, but not so much that it is crushed.
Creative problem-solving works best when harnessed with highly focused and disciplined thought. The trick is being rigorous, but not rigid, in your work, says Cade Miles. Scientists who study creativity say it is essential to combine two modes of thinking, convergent and divergent, to have creative breakthroughs.
Convergent thinking is highly analytical and focuses on arriving at one correct solution given the available data, whereas divergent thinking generates creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. A startup should build in ample time for divergent pathways of thinking to keep the proper creative tension with convergent modes of thinking.
Creativity can be learned.
Everyone has creative potential, and the creative thought process can be improved and strengthened. Learning new hobbies and skills is a great way to lay down new neural networks, but learning a new art form is one of the best methods to train the mind in developing creative problem-solving skills. The arts require the use of divergent thinking.
Additionally, you can observe and learn from others, Ben-Zeev said. It's important not to limit yourself to your own expertise.
Creativity happens best at the intersection of disciplines.
Most breakthrough discoveries occur when two or more disciplines collide. Most people are afraid of collisions, but creative collisions should be encouraged, because they allow you to view a problem from a new perspective. Creative problem-solvers are often able to connect two distinct areas of expertise and can translate potential solutions from one field to an unrelated area.
Creativity is a gift.
If you are an entrepreneur, or have visions of being one, odds are you were one of the few blessed with innate creativity. Simply having these ideas of branching off and starting an original business boasts ingenuity.
The entire reasons entrepreneurs start a company is because they have envisioned one in the first place. Without creativity, there are no ideas or visions.
"It is often driven by the vision of the founder(s) who believe they can solve a problem in a smarter, better, more efficient way than anyone else currently on the market," said Ben-Zeev. "That ability to visualize then develop and implement the solution is what fuels those who launch and run companies. It's the driving force behind their creativity."
Implementing these ideas and visions is what matters most. Don't sit with your dreams – chase them.
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.