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Like most business owners, you probably wish there was more time in the day. Finding the balance between meeting necessary deadlines and keeping space to be creative can be tough. But creativity in business is essential, and losing it means losing out on innovation, efficiency and (ultimately) revenue.
So, it’s vital to free up some space in your business for creative endeavors — especially considering three-quarters of small business owners said that inflation affected their bottom line between July 2021 and July 2022, and 56% expect to feel the pinch through at least the summer of 2023. Creative solutions can mean the difference between financial success and failure.
From a survey of more than a thousand executives, Deloitte found that so-called “high-growth brands” are more likely to value creative ideas as part of long-term success. These brands — in contrast to brands with less measured growth — also are more likely to intentionally create an environment that fosters creative thinking and cross-collaboration. Creativity is a key factor in innovation, which ultimately determines a company’s growth over time.
One common reason business owners struggle to find creative time for themselves is that they’re hiring people but not delegating effectively. As an owner, you can’t handle everything on your own. Though it’s important to ensure quality, you must find a way to delegate tasks if you want to maintain balance, stability and creativity. Research from the Annual Review of Psychology shows that we need time for our brains to wander between tasks to fully realize our creative potential. However, it’s hard to find that time when you’re trying to do it all yourself.
The simple truth is that a business can’t grow when its owner is consumed with micro-managing every facet of the organization. Instead of spreading yourself thin, focus on the part of your role that adds the most value, prioritize it and let it grow. Delegate tasks and share authority where you’re able. The goal? A company that can function without your constant supervision, leaving you space to bring in new passion and creative ideas.
The qualities that make up an efficient system and leave room for creativity
As a leader, you must endeavor to build systems that help you find more creative space instead of more tasks for your list. Here’s where you should focus your efforts:
Regular processes enable you to oversee different aspects of the business and maintain quality without micro-managing every detail. Not only can poor or inefficient systems or strategies lead to chaos and capital loss, but having efficient processes also means spending more time doing what you’re good at, being creative and making better strategic decisions.
A great start would be to improve the day-to-day routines that keep your company running. Successful processes are clear, can be replicated and documented, have supporting tools and are easy to access.
Well-designed and well-implemented systems (including financial, technology, marketing, people and operations systems) create consistent experiences for customers and employees and make your business run more smoothly. Concrete processes, outline how things should be done and provide a way to improve them, saving you time and energy you can spend elsewhere.
Related: How to Take Marie Kondo’s Approach for Workflows and Processes
A big challenge in creating more space for creativity is having well-defined tasks for everyone on the team. You must have a clear job description for every role in your organization. As your company grows, you’ll delegate tasks to many employees and having defined roles helps you manage payroll more effectively, set performance expectations and outline innovation opportunities.
Perfectly assigned roles are crucial for business because, according to LinkedIn, ineffective management can lead to low morale and budget overruns. This can manifest in poor planning or role definition or more personal things like failure to coach or innovate within roles. Buck this trend by clearly defining your team’s scope of work.
Related: What If a Boss and an Employee Swapped Roles? We Tried It.
After you have determined your company’s roles, you can assign specific, necessary skills to each one. By clarifying which skills are valued and required in each role, you empower your employees to focus their time and efforts on the skills that will most help them grow in their role. By narrowing their focus, you free up more time and headspace for innovation and creativity.
Skill assignment also ensures you hire the best-qualified candidates and place them in the most productive roles for your organization. Skill testing should be an important part of hiring, too. McKinsey says that 87% of employers see current or potential skill gaps at their companies. Skill testing and clarification can help close those gaps.
Related: How to Acquire Soft Skills and Measure Them Successfully
The best way to create an effective organizational structure is to design it before you need it. As with systems optimization and role definition, providing organizational structure means employees spend less time confused and more time doing the important work you hired them for. Progress will stall if an employee has a question and doesn’t know where to ask for the answer. Provide structure and reduce confusion.
Toyota is a great example of how structure can impact time management. The Toyota Production System (TPS)
is a program that encompasses all of Toyota’s practices and philosophies, from sourcing materials to customer interactions. TPS was a key factor in the development of “lean manufacturing,” which focuses on efficiency in production. The right systems help you prioritize and manage your time so you have the freedom to work on developing your business with creative solutions rather than simply maintaining it.
One way to quickly simplify inefficiencies is to remove unnecessary steps in company procedures. An audit is one way to accomplish this, but automation is another modern solution. Automation can identify and solve company growth issues, reduce wasted resources in poorly designed systems and maximize profits.
As a business leader, your priorities should be achieving amazing customer outcomes, maintaining a healthy company culture and finding innovative opportunities for growth. By optimizing the systems, processes and roles in your company, you spend less time managing and more time doing what you do best.