Creativity with No Time and No Money

Please note: I have rewritten this entry with more experience now and have republished as: “Doing More with Less.” I hope you enjoy and find usedful! Always inspired, Liane Sebastian
creative cultivationWhen writing about creativity and business culture in this week’s Idea Incubator, the topic of scarcity resonates with many nonprofit associations, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. As times are challenging economically, there is a knee-jerk reaction to freeze publications, tolerate inadequate websites, or neglect new audience-attracting initiatives. As a businesswoman and a creative professional, I know first-hand how creativity is the way out of difficulties and the best way for resolving challenges.

To treat creative initiatives as extra, frivolous, or even as ‘luxuries’ assumes that they can only be embarked upon after the necessities are satisfied. But what necessities are even possible if people don’t communicate?

Those who cut back on marketing during tough times aren’t imaginative. With so many free communication opportunities, apply some strategy and a few one-time fees for setup, and the potential activities are unlimited.

Time is actually more stretched than budgets. Free opportunities take time to pursue. Most professionals are already overwhelmed with too many agenda items! When no time meets no budget, the painted-in-the-corner position is acquired!

Rather than eliminate creative initiatives like new features on the website, promotional campaigns to prospects, or expanding member benefits, plan imaginatively. There are ways to maximize time and accomplish more with less. Here are some creative approaches that pay off:

glass collection of Liane Sebastian1. Please members. What can retain, connect, or cross-sell? Any ideas that improve relationships with members can’t be a luxury! Or fulfilled on top of minding the store! Read blogs as a shortcut to direct market feedback. Find the most relevant ones through strategic keyword research.

glass collection of Liane Sebastian2. Network strategically. Choose events that will enhance ideas—especially for feedback on approaches before testing. Collect considered opinions from those trusted to be frank. Always consider the source of criticism carefully. Everyone has a personal opinion, but what matters are professional ones.

glass collection of Liane Sebastian3. Test ideas. Don’t jump into a concept without breaking it into a modular components that can solicit feedback from prototypical audience members. A statistic must comprise at least 60 samples. If less, choose opinions very carefully. Don’t consider ideas from those who don’t match your audience profile—a very great distraction and time-waster.

glass collection of Liane Sebastian4. Cut back on printing. Publishing online is a good idea but only if the print budget is partially used for content generation. Publications need to be redesigned for online delivery, consistency, and response. The frequency, parameters, and process are much different than print’s static medium.

glass collection of Liane Sebastian5. Redo communications from the audience point-of-view. This saves time and builds member relationships. When the member considers the organization’s offerings, meet their needs versus push how great the group is. Develop an approach that first answers “WIFM (“What’s in it for Me?”). This places creativity and leadership in the forefront.

glass collection of Liane Sebastian6. Develop efficient updating methods. Don’t delegate to staff without regular managerial review. Strategically design updated segments online so that new information is configured to flow into various channels. An efficient updating plan can save a lot of money by rotating images or minimizing what has to be changed.

glass collection of Liane Sebastian7. Request pro bono. Depending on your mission, membership talents can be further tapped. But for strategic design, experience should matter more than membership. Experienced designers devote efforts to causes or beliefs. Most have special rates for nonprofits. 10% of my work is always nonprofit. However, as a businesswoman, I am most generous to paying clients. Pro bono is generally project-based and most often I am not a member to those whom I contribute.

glass collection of Liane Sebastian8. Make deals. Exchange ad space or visibility possibilities with other professionals. Strong collaborations for creative thinking are more than project-based. Like a doctor treating an ulcer has to do a complete physical or an architect designing a room edition that needs draw a complete floor plan, the right match will save executive time by bringing a comprehensive view. Set scheduled review times to keep the relationships balanced.

Creative approaches fit the 80/20 Rule. 80% of the ideas don’t mature. But the 20% that do make up for the 80 that don’t. In fact, the 80 are long forgotten in the limelight generated by the 20!

How do you increase your creative approaches while making the best use of resources?

Also see how I explore ideas development in the Idea Incubator series that are in weekly entries.

You may also enjoy other of my writings on creativity:

Women who Win at Work
 my print book has a whole chapter on applying creativity to business.

Talents Tested, Concepts Considered” blog with contribution from Gail McMeekin.

Sharpen Creativity” blog with suggestions for freshening viewpoint.

Liane Sebastian, illustrator, designer, writer, and publishing pioneer


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2 Responses to “Creativity with No Time and No Money”

  1. crisismaven Says:

    That is a nice vademecum for start-ups – I myself had been a consultant trying to help startups get … well started. As I see you are mentioning statistical research: I have put one of the most comprehensive link lists for hundreds of thousands of statistical sources and indicators on my blog: Statistics Reference List. And what I find most fascinating is how data can be visualised nowadays with the graphical computing power of modern PCs, as in many of the dozens of examples in these Data Visualisation References. If you miss anything that I might be able to find for you or if you yourself want to share a resource, please leave a comment.

    • wisdomofwork Says:

      Hi Chris, Thanks for your resource! I’ve barely begun to investigate your research portal and am excited to have such a demographic source! Many readers are concerned with content creation and often need supporting statistics. Gratefully, Liane

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