Have you heard of the word “creativity training? Can you identify a unique trait possessed by entrepreneurs such as Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, Steven Spielberg, J.K. Rowling and George Lucas?

Have you ever admired entrepreneurs such as Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers that showed creativity in business? Think no more as I will be sharing with you today, in-depth creativity exercises that will help you create your own product out of thin air.

“To turn really interesting ideas and fledging ideas into a company that can continue to innovate for years, it requires a lot of disciplines.” – Steve Jobs

When it comes to building a business with respect to entrepreneurial creativity, there are definitely three kinds of entrepreneurs. There are entrepreneurs who are always looking to improve current products, there are those who just copy someone else product, build a business and compete with the original creator and lastly; we have the creative entrepreneurs that create products that never existed.

“Bill Gates copies every new software that comes on board and makes it a feature of windows. That’s not innovation. It is the end of innovation.” – Larry Ellison

Creative entrepreneurs are those who bring into existence, things that weren’t. These set of entrepreneurs are often referred to as creative individuals who use the power of their creative imagination to create innovative products out of thing air. Harry Potter was a product of creative imagination, so also is Mickey Mouse, beanie babies and Barbie. All inventions were brought into being by means of creative imagination.

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, stick-to-itiveness and common sense.” – Thomas Edison

The Need For Creativity Exercises and Training

I want to state categorically that you don’t have to be an inventor such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell or Walt Disney to utilize the creative imagination. Everyone has the gift of creative imagination but not everyone knows how to orchestrate that internal potential for the good of mankind.

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” – Thomas Edison

Using this article as a medium, I will be specifically highlighting 12 effective ways to harness your gift of creative imagination and increase your entrepreneurial creativity. If you are still with me, then let’s get the ball rolling.

“Forget the Carmel. If a man can pass through the eye of the needle, he will enter the world of tremendous wealth.” – Rich Dad

12 Exercises and Training for Creativity and Innovation in Business

1. Develop Your Mindset

“Money is just an idea.” – Robert Kiyosaki

There is no special magic to developing your entrepreneurial creativity. Creative imagination is not an in-born gift. It’s a potential that needs to be developed and harnessed. Becoming a creative entrepreneur begins with a change of mindset. You must yearn for creativity; you must seek it out. You must picture the possibility of creating a winning idea out of thin air; you must believe it is possible.

“To be successful, you must act big, think big and talk big.” – Aristotle Onassis

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

“Getting rich begins with the right mindset, the right words and the right plan.” – Rich Dad

2. Be Curious

“If you want to be rich, you need to develop your vision. You must be standing on the edge of time gazing into the future.” – Rich Dad

The next step to increasing your entrepreneurial creativity is to get curious. An old saying goes: curiosity kills the cat but in this case, I think curiosity boosts creativity. Increasing entrepreneurial creativity requires you become a little bit inquisitive; you need to be curious about the workability of things and situations.

A famous philosopher made a statement that boils down to curiosity. He said: “Everyone saw the apple fall but only Isaac Newton asked why.” I believe curiosity is the starting point of entrepreneurial creativity; it’s the key that unlocks your creative imagination. Rudyard Kiping has this to say with respect to creative imagination and curiosity.

“I keep six honest serving men. They taught me all I know. Their names are: what, why, when, how, where and who.” – Rudyard Kiping

3. Develop Tolerance for Failure

“Most people give up just when they are about to achieve success. They quit on one yard line. They give up the at last minute of the game one foot from a winning touch down.” – Henry Ross Perot

I want it to sink into your skull that along with creative imagination come constant failures and disappointments. Not all your ideas are going to materialize into something useful; not all will make you smile to the bank.

Most of your creative ideas are going to be either turned down by investors or they won’t make a head way. Therefore, you must be prepared for whatever comes your way. You must be prepared for people telling you to your face that you are nuts.

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It’s best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs

Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before his light bulb became a reality. Colonel Sanders had his chicken recipe turned down several times by investors but now, Kentucky Fried Chicken is a reality. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was turned down a couple of times by book publishers; she persisted and today, she’s a billionaire. These illustrations should help you understand the fact that disappointments are part of the entrepreneurial process.

“Punishing honest mistakes stifles creativity. I want people moving and shaking the earth and they are going to make mistakes.” – Henry Ross Perot

4. Engaging in Brainstorming with Your Team

The fourth way to increase your entrepreneurial creativity is to engage in brainstorming sessions with your business team. That’s if you have one. Brainstorming with your team results in an inbound flow of ideas and solutions to problems.

“Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose and focus as a well motivated individual.” – Bill Gates

I can’t over emphasize the importance of having a business team and engaging in brainstorming sessions with this team. The iPod and iPad were products of brainstorming, so also was Microsoft Windows.

General Electric’s and Apple’s innovative products were as a result of creative imagination by a team with the same unity of purpose. I know how many ideas and solutions I have gotten so far simply by being part of a brainstorming session.

“Individuals don’t win in business, teams do.” – Sam Walton

Now you might say you don’t have a business team. I understand but that shouldn’t be a hindrance to your goal of unlocking your potential of creative imagination. If your will to increase your entrepreneurial creativity is strong, you will surely find a way.

Another approach to try if you don’t have your own business team is to find a brainstorming session and make yourself part of that session. If you can’t have your own business team, why not be a part of someone else team.

5. Be a Proactive Learner

“One of the great things about being willing to try new things and make mistakes is that making mistakes keeps you humble. People who are humble learn more than people who are arrogant.” – Rich Dad

If you are a regular reader on this blog, you will notice that I always emphasize on the need to be a constant learner and a voracious reader. Entrepreneurship is a game where learning fast is a prerequisite to successfully playing the game. Learning is an effective way to increasing your entrepreneurial creativity. Reading to be precise opens your mind to the possibilities of life but learning is not just about reading.

“Be a lifelong student. Read as many books as possible.” – Nelson Mandela

“One of the most stupid things to do is to pretend you are smart. When you pretend to be smart, you are at the height of stupidity.” – Rich Dad

6. Keep an Open Mind

Keeping an open mind is fundamental to the creative imagination process. Just as a saying goes; there are two sides to a coin. To fully utilize your creative abilities, you must be open to suggestions. You must never draw a quick conclusion based on your personal assumption. Keeping an open mind means giving a thought to different ideologies and perspectives before drawing a final conclusion.

“Cynics and fools are twins on the opposite sides of reality and possibility. Fools will believe any far fetched scheme and a cynic will criticize anything outside their reality. A cynic’s reality does not allow anything new in and a fool’s reality does not have the ability to keep foolish ideas out.” – Rich Dad

If you must be a creative entrepreneur, then you must learn to accept and weigh other people’s stance and ideas no matter how absurd they may sound. My core reason for saying this is because the most absurd idea might turn out a winner tomorrow.

7. View Problems as Challenges

Are you in the habit of waving aside other people’s problems? Are you in the habit of avoiding challenges? If your answer is yes, then it’s time you change your attitude. The reason is because you might be waving aside a potential innovative invention.

“The biggest challenge you have is to challenge your own self doubt and your laziness. It is your self doubt and your laziness that defines and limit who you are.” – Rich Dad

Let me share with you the story of Otunba Gadaffi, an ex-body guard turned entrepreneur. Otunba Gadaffi was a body guard to the late prominent Nigerian politician; M.K.O Abiola. Now it happened that this politician organized a party and Otunba Gadaffi, being a body guard was to oversee the security network of the party venue.

While carrying out security checks, Otunba Gadaffi observed that the available rest rooms won’t adequately serve the guests; who would be coming in thousands. Instead of lamenting over the problem, an idea stuck in his head and the Mobile Toilet was born. From this humble beginning, Otunba Gadaffi’s company now manufactures mobile toilet and has diversified into Waste Management and organic manure production.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

The case of Otunba Gadaffi is just a tip of the iceberg. I have seen entrepreneurs take problems people practically don’t want to be associated with and turned it into an opportunity. So whenever you are confronted with a problem, don’t avoid it. Instead, act like the ancient alchemists who tried to turn lead into gold.

8. Create Your Own idea Box

Do you have an idea box? I bet you don’t. Having your own idea box is a key to boosting your entrepreneurial creativity. I have a personal idea box where I dump every idea, be it a sound idea or a weird one; I just dump it in there. My idea box is also filled with creative adverts, web copies and sales letters that catch my fancy. Writing a powerful sales letter or ad is never a problem because I have a box full of powerful, successful ads.

Where ever I go, I carry a pen and note pad because I occasionally get an infusion of ideas from time to time. Though I may not act on all my ideas immediately, I still don’t discard them. It’s exciting going through a box filled with ideas. Building an idea box costs nothing but it can turn out to be a life saver in the future. So why don’t you start your own idea box today. You never can tell when you come across a winning idea.

“All achievements, all earned riches have their beginning in an idea.” – Andrew Carnegie

9. Spend Quality Time Alone: Thinking

“Thinking is the hardest work to do, that’s why so few people are engaged in it.” – Henry Ford

How many hours do you spend a day thinking positively? Everyone thinks and fantasizes but there is what I call “critical thinking.” Critical thinking is the starting point of creative imagination. Please note that there is a difference between critical thinking and worrying. Critical thinking solves problems while worry compounds problems.

“Too many people are too lazy to think. Instead of learning something new, they think the same thought day in day out.” – Rich Dad

If you must harness the power of creative imagination, you must spend quality time alone; thinking positively. All great inventions and innovative solutions to people’s problems are the output of critical thinking.

“Thinking is hard work. When you are forced to think, you expand your mental capacity. When you expand your mental capacity, your wealth increases.” – Rich Dad

Most intricate corporate problems are solved during the process of thinking in solitude. Now how do you engage your mind in critical thinking? I believe the first step to building your creative thinking capacity is to look for a quiet place where your mind can be allowed to wander without distraction.

“The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” – Thomas Edison

In this quiet place of your choice, some writing and reading materials will come in handy. Once you have decided on a place, choose a specific time of the day to spend time in your quiet place and make sure that your energy is high at that time. Nobody can teach you how to think critically but with a strong will to solve a problem and the right environment to ponder for a definite solution, you will develop your capacity to think.

10. Model Creative Individuals

Does modeling creative individuals boost creative imagination and increase entrepreneurial creativity? My answer is a definite yes. A simple but effective way to challenge your creativity is to draw inspiration from the masters of creativity. Artists and painters draw inspiration from the paintings of masters; inventors study the works of other great inventors. The result of modeling creative individuals may not be instantaneous but over time, you will sense an improvement in your creative intelligence.

“Be careful as to the books you read as of the company you keep, for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.” – Poxton Hood

11. Challenge Conventional Wisdom: Think Outside the Box

“The most important aspect of my personality as far as determining my success goes; has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.” – Larry Ellison

This is probably the most difficult avenue to ply. Not every individual can stand criticism, let alone when it’s coming from recognized experts. Please I am not advising you to foolishly challenge convention wisdom. Before you do that, you must have an idea or a firm belief on your stance.

“Beware of those who stand aloof and greet each other with reproof. The world would stop if things were run by men who say “it can’t be done.” – Samuel Glover

Challenging conventional wisdom is simply the ability to think outside the box. It is a painful process to go through but the outcome may turn out rewarding. Has anyone challenged conventional wisdom in the past and succeeded? My answer is yes. The Wright brothers challenged conventional wisdom when they shared their idea of a flying machine. They were heavily criticized but today, the airplane is a reality.

Thomas Edison was told by experts that the incandescent bulb was impractical but he stuck to his belief, failed 10,000 times and emerged a winner. Henry Ford had an idea of an engine with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block. The design was placed on paper but the engineers said it was an impossible mission. Henry Ford ordered them to go ahead and find a way to produce it. After almost a year of constant failure, the V-8 motor became a reality.

“There is a way to do it better – find it.” – Thomas Edison

So when next you want to think, think outside the box. Never hold back or limit your imagination. Never be afraid to step on toes; never give a damn whose butt is kicked. Transforming your creative imagination into reality requires guts; if your belief is strong enough, you will have your way.

“Before making an important decision, get as much as you can of the best information available and review it carefully, analyze it and draw up worst case scenarios. Add up the plus or minus factors, discuss it with your team and do what your guts tell you to do. – The Mafia Manager

12. Choose Creative Friends

I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.” – Thomas Edison

So you want to be a creative entrepreneur? Well, it possible to become one but it comes with a price; you will have to give up most of your friends. Just as an old saying goes: “Birds of the same feather flock together.” You need to be selective of your friends. You need to seek out friends with like mindset and passion.

“Be careful of the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful of the friends you choose for you will become like them.” – W. Clement Stone

Nothing kills a dream more than friends pointing their fingers at you and saying: “you are nuts” or “that’s impossible.” You need friends who believe in possibilities; friends who can help you keep your dream alive.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to dealing with friends is this: don’t discuss dreams and ideas with dream killers, pessimists and cynics posing as friends. They will only end up discouraging you. Instead, share you dreams with valiant friends who believe “it can be done.”

“It is better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you will drift in that direction.” – Warren Buffett