Find People Who Actually Support Your Creativity and Other Must-Read Business Tips

A look at how to persevere in your creativity, why you should give your employees a pay bump and more advice for business owners.

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By Brian Patrick Eha

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Everyone likes to praise creativity, the essential ingredient in innovation. But let's get real: Most of this praise is mere lip service. Actual creativity unsettles people and often earns pushback from those who doubt whether it will produce viable results. It's true that creative efforts may not always pay off, but the most successful entrepreneurs know how to pick themselves up and keep going. "Being creative is going to be associated with a lot of failure," says Dr. Lynne Vincent, co-author of "Outside Advantage: Can Social Rejection Fuel Creative Thought?" published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. "You have to have the confidence to persevere and continue on past the hurdles and barriers."

That task is a hell of a lot easier when you have people encouraging you. Find champions who support your creativity. These champions could be family, close friends, coworkers or people from your past such as former professors or managers. Having them "allows you to go from being that lone nut to having a support network who can help you hone your ideas, initiate them and apply them," Vincent says. More: How to Turn Negativity Into Creativity

Give your employees a raise.
Making more money is the No. 1 thing on workers' minds in 2014, according to a survey by Glassdoor, a web startup that allows workers to anonymously share details of their employment with other users. Whereas fear of layoffs was rampant during the worst of the recession, and wages remained stagnant even long after experts had declared that the economy's health was improving, employees now recognize that they have other options if their current job fails to provide for them. What's more, the second-most-common resolution was to find a new job. "Only 15 percent of employees are worried about a layoff in the next six months, which remains the lowest number that we've seen in the last five years," says Rusty Rueff, a Glassdoor career and workplace expert. More: Employees Everywhere: We Want a Raise This Year

To become a thought leader, act like one.
A lot of factors go into becoming a leader in one's industry or field of expertise. Some of these factors are within your control and some are not. But you will certainly increase your chance of being seen as a thought leader if you work on being discoverable. "If your work is invisible to the people who matter, you are not serving yourself or the work you have underway," says Denise Brousseau, the founder and chief executive of Thought Leadership Lab, whose clients include leaders from Apple, Genentech and Morgan Stanley. "Your credibility goes up as others know more about you and begin to trust you." So keep tabs on your online reputation and visibility on Google and social networks. Find opportunities to talk to the media. Give presentations and speak and conferences. Apply for awards. In short, put yourself out there. And then do it some more. More: 6 Characteristics Great Thought Leaders Share

Be mediocre at a lot of things and combine them in a creative way.
For some people, success is a result of monomaniacal focus, never deviating from a single objective. For Scott Adams, creator of the immensely popular comic strip Dilbert and the author of How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big (Penguin, 2013), it came from a combination of good habits and multiple skills, none of which were extraordinary. "If you look at my current career it's a combination of fairly mediocre talents," Adams says. "I'm not a good artist, compared to real artists. I've never taken a writing class, except for a two-day business writing class. I've got fairly average business talents. I'm not even the funniest person in the room, but I'm one of the few people who does all of those things." Adams says his penchant for taking on multiple projects, each of which had a high probability of failing, allowed him to remain open to new opportunities and gave him a greater chance of success at something in the long run. More: How Ordinary Skills Led to an Extraordinary Life for 'Dilbert' Creator

Don't choose a quirky company name just for the sake of it.
Startup names seem to go through fads. Remember when every new company name ended in "-ify"? or "-ly"? But a quirky name just for the sake of it is a bad move. "Your name has to be different for a good reason," says Jodi Helmer, a writer living in Portland, Oregon. "And we need to be able to spell it. A name that is hard to spell will make it impossible for customers to find you." And don't discount potential names based solely on their dictionary definitions. Nobody wants to get caught in crossfire, but the Chrysler Crossfire works "because it sounds like a car that James Bond and Jason Bourne would drive," Helmer says. "You're not naming a company; you're naming its positioning." More: Naming Your Business? Consider These 3 Points First

Brian Patrick Eha

Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.

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