As a Small Business Owner, do you often feel restless? Extremely curious? Are you an out-of-the-box thinker or a rule breaker? The characteristics you bring into your business as a creative individual can help or hinder your creative small business operations depending on how you embrace them.

What is a Creative Business?

I’m naturally drawn to working with creative individuals and therefore creative businesses. Why? I consider myself a partial creative. I LOVE to make things or dream up new ideas. If I go too long without doing something creative, I get very antsy. And, as a partial creative, I understand how many creatives think.

However, I also have a very analytical side, and an almost obsessive-compulsive need to organize and structure things. When I started my Strategic Coaching and Fractional COO business, I realized by working with creative individuals I can fulfill both sides. I understand and can support my client’s creative endeavors AND I can use my organizational skills. Win-Win! 

But.. what IS a Creative Business?

When I sat down to write this,  I immediately looked for a standard description for a “Creative Business”. I found a LOT of answers, but nothing I connected with immediately so I created a definition combining some of my favorites.

I consider a Creative Small Business as one where the owner 1) uses creative thinking as a primary service and/or 2) makes and sells creative products. 

What Makes Creative Individuals Unique?

A fabulous article published by Sherrie Campbell on Entrepreneur.com describes 10 characteristics of highly creative achievers:
  • Restless
  • Bold Risk Takers
  • Out-of-the-Box Thinker
  • Lead With Their Heart
  • Curious
  • Disregard Rules
  • Work Independently
  • Fickle
  • Eccentric
  • Dreamers

As with all personality characteristics (not just those on this list), each can be interpreted positively or negatively depending on your point of view.

 I consider them ALL to be strengths, as long as it’s a natural characteristic for you and you…

1) Are self-aware and honest enough to recognize which characteristics apply to you and you understand how each characteristic may influence your decisions and actions.

2) Utilize the positive effects.

3) Avoid or control the negative effects.

4) Know when to ask for help.

5) Consider delegating or outsourcing some efforts.

If any of these characteristics naturally apply to you, read on for some recommendations to improve your business operations.

If these characteristics aren’t normal but you are feeling them, I recommend that you stop and schedule some time to consider what is different. Why are you feeling this way suddenly? Perhaps you have made some decisions that move away from your purpose and mission or away from your vision? I’d love to help evaluate this – schedule a FREE 30-minute strategic session and let’s see if I can help.

Tips For Operating Your Creative Business If…

You Are Often Restless…

1. Be Self-Aware – For this context, restless doesn’t mean you haven’t slept enough recently. It means that your brain jumps around between ideas or you may have a hard time sticking to one project.

2. Embrace It – For naturally restless business owners, first, accept this is natural for you and learn to maximize the benefits! Too often this is considered a negative characteristic. It’s not necessarily, as long as you learn how to harness the potential.

First, keep track of your moods and try to identify if there are patterns to your restlessness.

Second, if you can harness your restless energy, learn what business efforts you do well when you are restless (such as brainstorming or creating products). As much as possible, time your activities with your periods of restlessness.  

Also consider additional products and services you can offer that capitalize on your restless energy.  

3. Avoid or Control Negative Effects – If you CAN’T harness your restless energy, give yourself permission to take a break from work when you become too restless. Also, avoid making any major business decisions when restless, as your focus won’t be good and you may miss things.

4. Ask for Help – Be careful jumping into any major decisions. Ask for help from a business friend or coach to make sure you’ve considered all the options and that you decide for the right reasons, not just because you got restless and wanted to do something different.

5. Outsource or Delegate – You most likely struggle with repetitive tasks as your brain will get bored easily. Hiring an administrative assistant to handle recurring items or delegating these tasks to a detailed oriented employee will help your operations and decrease your personal stress or frustration.

You Are A Bold Risk Taker…

1. Be Self-Aware – Make a list of the risks you have taken in your business in the last 6-12 months. Evaluate each risk and determine if they have been SUCCESSFUL risks or UNSUCCESSFUL risks. Or something in between. Are there any patterns when you take big risks and their outcome?

2. Utilize the Positive Effects – If you take successful risks, congratulations! Not everyone can make bold choices easily. Can you use the ability to help others through your business?

3. Avoid or Mitigate the Negative Effects – If the risks you take haven’t been very successful or you decide too quickly, awareness is critical. Be aware of your patterns and avoid making decisions when you are least likely to fully consider the ramifications.

4. Ask for Help – Find a trusted business friend to talk with or hire a business coach to consult with before acting on any major decisions.

5.  Outsource or Delegate – Often people who like to take bold risks dislike being involved in the small minute decisions it often takes to run a business. If this is you, consider hiring an operations manager or office manager and minimize the number of employees who report directly to you.

You Are An Out-of-the-Box Thinker…

1. Be Self-Aware – It’s helpful to understand if you are an occasional out-of-the-box thinker when an innovative approach is helpful or if you are a constant out-of-the-box thinker who doesn’t like to do things the same as everyone else… EVER.

Pay attention to your decision making in the next few weeks to see if you are an occasional or constant out-of-the-box thinker.

2. Utilize the Positive Effects – Out-of-the-box thinking is typically a great characteristic as it means you can identify unusual ways to solve problems or deliver products and services. Being innovative and unconventional is a fabulous trait for a Small Business Owner or Entrepreneur.

To utilize this more, set aside time monthly or even weekly to step back and look at your business overall and brainstorm more ways to bring innovation to your operations.

3. Avoid or Mitigate the Negative Effects – Out-of-the-box thinking can also come with some unexpected negative effects. You may default to ALWAYS trying to be innovative. Sometimes it’s hard to keep things simple or to accept that an existing workflow or software really is the most efficient way to do things. Watch out for times you may make something more difficult than it needs to be.

4. Ask for Help – Be careful implementing TOO many innovative changes at once as you may overwhelm your staff or confuse your customers. Ask for help from a business friend or coach to help temper your efforts when needed.

5. Outsource or Delegate – Often out-of-the-box thinkers don’t usually like to be bogged down with the day-to-day recurring tasks to operate a business. They would rather spend their time focusing on new ideas. Consider outsourcing routine activities to an administrative assistant or if your business is large enough, hire an Operations Manager. 

You Lead With Your Heart…

1. Be Self-Aware – Accept that you are naturally a more emotional person. If you find yourself being overcome with emotions on occasion (i.e. when they negatively affect your ability to make a decision or focus), keep track of WHEN and WHY that happens and adjust your work schedule accordingly.

If you lead with your heart, you are most likely to make business decisions with your heart. Make a list of the major decisions you have made in the last year and whether they were emotionally driven or not. Then rate the success of these decisions now that you are looking back on them from a less emotional place.

2. Utilize the Positive Effects – If you find that you make great emotionally centered decisions, keep going!! And, consider adding even more heart-centric efforts to your business. For example, are you communicating with your audience from the same emotional place? Does your overall brand and feel match your emotional nature?

3. Avoid or Mitigate the Negative Effects – If you find that you do NOT make good decisions when emotional, be aware of your emotional state when you make major decisions. You may also assume everyone else leads with their heart, which is not necessarily the case, so you may be more trusting than others. This can occasionally lead to some bad relationships. 

4. Ask for Help – If simply being aware of timing doesn’t help enough, consider asking a business colleague or coach to act as a sounding board to help you see beyond your emotions.

5. Outsource or Delegate – You most likely struggle with any business tasks that are very analytical without any emotional aspect. As much as possible, outsource or delegate these tasks as they will excessively drain you and you are more likely to make mistakes. You may also want to hire a lawyer who will help you through contracts as you’ll probably hesitate getting things formally signed in writing because you tend to trust that others will do the right thing. 

You Are Very Curious…

1. Be Self-Aware – How curious are you? Start paying closer attention to how your brain works. Does your curiosity lead you to great ideas for your business and new ways to serve your customers? Or, does your curiosity lead to wasted hours because one thought leads to another, which leads to Google, which leads to 20 tabs open with ideas for new services, new blog posts, new articles, and on and on…. (you see what I mean here). Or, do you do both?

2. Utilize the Positive Effects – Give yourself permission and reasons to use your curiosity for your business. Consider how else you can add aspects to what you already do. Consider how your curiosity may also be used to help your customers, if you don’t do this already.  

3. Avoid or Mitigate the Negative Effects – If your curiosity occasionally leads to lost or wasted hours, set timers or place restrictions on how much you let your curiosity run away. It may be as simple as being more aware or you may have to control your time more.  For example, you may set aside the last 1-2 hours of your work day or one half day during your week or every other week to let your curiosity run free. During this time let your brain wander but at the end of the session, write down the ideas and set aside time at a later date to evaluate what to do with these ideas. If you skip this part, you’ll often find yourself repeating the same loop over and over again.

4. Ask for Help – If you are having a hard time evaluating when and how being curious can help or hinder your operations, ask for help from a trusted business friend or a coach to work through it with you.

5. Outsource or Delegate – If you need to collect very specific research or you need to review a lot of data, particularly if you have a short deadline, consider hiring someone to handle these tasks. Your curiosity may prevent you from doing this in a timely manner.  If you find yourself unable to review written articles because you are constantly curious and you end up looking for more content to add, consider hiring a copyright editor to do your editing to keep you out of the curiosity loop. 

You Disregard Rules…

1. Be Self-Aware – Being a bit of a rebel who doesn’t like rules is a good thing. Especially as a Small Business Owner, as it takes guts to go out on your own. To create something new or be innovative in business, you often have to “break the rules” of what is expected or assumed possible. However, there is a point at which disregarding the rules can be dangerous for your business, as there are still requirements that must be followed.

Stop and consider your last year in business. Have you missed any business filing deadlines. Are you aware of the sales tax laws that affect your business? Have you paid your overall taxes on time? Do you have all the required business licenses?

2. Utilize the Positive Effects – Continue to challenge the status quo. Anytime someone tells you something can’t be done, prove them wrong. Break the rules! Do things differently. Embrace that you love a challenge and go looking for them to keep  your business fresh and innovative. 

3. Avoid or Mitigate the Negative Effects – Be careful that you know which “rules” CAN be broken (which are usually more societal expectations) and which rules CAN’T be broken or else you can’t legally operate your business.

4. Ask for Help – As a natural “rule-breaker”, you may have a hard time reviewing business rules and requirements, as you naturally want to say “screw it” to them all. If this is you, look for legitimate resources that clearly spell out out business requirements or people who can provide guidance. Ask a friend in a similar business to remind you of important filing dates.

5. Outsource or Delegate – As soon as you can afford to, hire legal and accounting support to keep track of and support your efforts to ensure you are aware of and meet the rules that you can’t break.

You Prefer to Work Independently…

1. Be Self-Aware – Take some time to consider WHY you like to work independently. Are you naturally an introvert? Is your business best run independently? However, also take time to consider if you are AVOIDING working with others because of bad experiences. Are you holding yourself or your business back by being too independent? Is there something that you really want to add but you can’t do it alone?

2. Utilize the Positive Effects – Most likely you are naturally motivated and don’t need much, if any, external encouragement to focus on your work. Embrace thus characteristic and emphasize it when possible, particularly if it’s valuable to your clients/customers (for example, you might be someone who dislikes idle chit chat. You may prefer to hire contractors who are very independent and less likely to interrupt).

Also, when you come up with new ideas or opportunities arise, stop to consider if they will force you to be less independent and how that may affect you.    

3. Avoid or Mitigate the Negative Effects – Be careful that your tendency to work independently doesn’t hold you back from making business decisions that ultimately move you towards your long-term goals for your business. There can be a fine line between being independent and overly stubborn. 

4. Ask for Help – If you are avoiding working with others because of bad experiences, ask for help from a business friend or a coach to evaluate what happened, identify how you can learn from it, and determine how you can overcome it. 

5.  Outsource or Delegate – Extremely independent individuals do not like working with people who need a lot of encouragement or validation. Carefully evaluate potential hirees to avoid any personality conflicts. You’ll need someone who is relatively independent as well. 

Also, consider outsourcing or delegating work that requires you to give up too much of your independent work time. Otherwise, you may start avoiding those tasks or start making mistakes.

You Are Often Fickle (i.e. You Change Your Mind Often)…

1. Be Self-Aware – Take time to really evaluate if you are fickle because 1) you really love change, or if you are changing your mind so often because you’re 2) not happy with HOW you are doing (i.e. being a perfectionist) or 3) not happy with WHAT you are doing.

If you really love change, or you are a perfectionist, we can work with those. However, if you are really not happy with what you are doing overall, this won’t help. You need to stop and really evaluate your business purpose – which is not addressed here.   

2. Utilize the Positive Effects – If you truly love change, you are most likely very good at switching back and forth between efforts and activities. And you NEED the ability to change between projects to avoid feeling stagnant. For example, if you make products, offer different types that allow you to alter your activities and fulfill that need for change. If you are a coach, offer challenges that change up what and how you support your clients (as long as they are still interested in the offer).

3. Avoid or Mitigate the Negative Effects – If your need to change happens because you won’t finish a project until it’s “perfect”, find a balance between “good enough” and “perfect”, allowing you to deliver a product or service that fulfills your customer needs and still generates profit to the business (don’t do SO much extra work you don’t make any money).

Also, pay close attention to any changes that move you away from your long term goals. Just because something sounds like fun, or may be of interest to your customers, does NOT necessarily mean that it fits within your business.

4. Ask for Help –  If you question your ability to evaluate if a change is GOOD for your business or not, ask a business friend or coach to talk it through. Often, you already know the answer, but it helps to discuss it with someone else.

5.  Outsource or Delegate – Outsource or delegate any efforts that are repititive – and thus monotonous to you. As someone who thrives on change, this is the easiest way to drive yourself insane. 

ou Are Considered Eccentric…

1. Be Self-Aware – “Eccentric” is always in the eye of the beholder. Someone is considered to be an eccentric if they are DIFFERENT from the observer. If they are odd, unusual, kooky, crazy, etc. But it’s always seen from their definition of “normal”. It’s also a funny word because some people are repulsed by eccentricity, and others are attracted to it (again, a matter of their personal perspective).   

As a creative, I challenge you to first evaluate your feelings if someone in general called you “eccentric”. Would you feel proud or concerned? What if the person was a target client? Would your answer change? It’s important to consider your own connotation of the word first. 

This characteristic is a bit different from the others because it’s not as easy to talk about positive or negative effects as it’s so subjective. So, I’ve changed the categories.

2. If YOU Don’t Like Being Called Eccentric – If you aren’t comfortable being called eccentric, you will need to change something (more below in #5). After all, if you aren’t comfortable as the Small Business Owner, you won’t be comfortable in your business and customers will feel it. 

3. If Your Target Audience Considers You Eccentric – You need to know WHAT product or service you provide and TO WHOM. And if your target audience is interested in what you are offering. If your target audience finds you eccentric and they LIKE that, you can use this as an advantage to differentiate yourself from competitors. However, it’s a fine line. If they find you TOO eccentric, they may not buy from you.

Take the time to get to know your customers and what they think of your products and services and about you. How? Read your online reviews and ask them! Send surveys or talk to them in person. Find out what they think and how it benefits your business. 

5. Then What? – If you are making good sales and you don’t care about the label, it may not matter if you are considered eccentric. Smile all the way to the bank.

If you AREN’T making good sales or it makes you uncomfortable to be considered eccentric, take some time to evaluate if you are selling the right product to the wrong people. OR the wrong product to the right people. And if you want to embrace your eccentricity as an advantage or find the right combination for product and customers to be considered unique but not eccentric. Only you can decide that.

You Are a Dreamer…

1. Be Self-Aware – Pay attention to how often and when you catch yourself daydreaming. Does it happen often while working on specific tasks? Does it happen at certain times of the month (if you have never looked at business productivity compared to moon phases, trust me, it’s worth checking out). Does it energize or drain you?

2. Utilize the Positive Effects – Dreams are what turn into amazing ideas – as long as hard work is done to purse them. Let yourself dream big and dream often, as long as it’s not interfering with deadlines or negatively affecting your operations. If you need to, schedule times of the day or week to let your mind wander. Write down the ideas as they come – then let them rest to evaluate later.

Want to take it a step further? Take time to make a vision board to keep in your office. Constant reminders of your dreams help to manifest them.

3. Avoid or Mitigate the Negative Effects – Be careful that you don’t spend more time dreaming than working. Also, pay attention to what you are dreaming. If your ideas aren’t in alignment with your business (or if your dreams are in opposition to your business), it might be a sign to re-evaluate what you are doing.  

4. Ask for Help – If you are having a very hard time focusing on your business and spending too much time dreaming, ask for help from a business friend or a coach to dig into why and what you may need to do.

You may also want help developing strategic plans. It can be especially hard to narrow down specific future tasks and plans to reach them if you are constantly dreaming about new ideas and ventures.

5.  Outsource or Delegate – Consider outsourcing or delegating any tasks that require you to collect or evaluate past data (such as compiling tax records or analyzing annual sales). It’s hard for someone always dreaming of the future to stop and dig into the past.

Now What?

How many of these characteristics do you identify with? Did you learn anything about how to better operate your creative small business? Leave a comment below with your answers.

If you are ready to dig into your operations in more detail or create a Strategic Plan, schedule a 30-minute FREE strategic assessment to learn more about how we can work together to help clear your head or grow your business.


blocks of multiple women with different emotions - pin image from thoughts from a fractional coo blog - tips for operating a creative small business based on common characteristics of creative individuals