“I want to do something creative on the side but … no idea yet.” This statement is often echoed throughout the corporate world.
Creativity is for everyone. “When we realize that yes, we are all creative individuals no matter who we are or what we do, we then can tap into our explorer self, our artistic self, our student self and our poet self to bring our expertise forward.”
Here are six simple steps to dig deep and discover a side of yourself you might not know about, which can be leveraged to create new income streams.
Step 1: Recall your life journey
It might sound like your resume, but this is something even more personal and holistic.
“Experience is the best teacher of all. And for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist. Only the journey matters.” –– Harry Callahan, photographer
Think about how you were brought up, any difficulties you’ve overcome, along the way through your teens, adult life, career, etc. Write them all down in bullet points.
There are a few you likely remember most because these are either proud moments or the most difficult times you’ve overcome. These experiences are all different for each of us, and they are the most valuable to us. From this list, you can generally associate experiences with your strengths – list them out as well.
Many of us may already know what we are good at and overlook the most valuable experiences. Don’t skip this step. Complete the list and keep it for use in the later steps.
Step 2: Consider what you enjoy most
Imagine you have three extra hours on a Saturday morning – what would you do? Read fashion magazines? Paint? Practice yoga? List at least three things you enjoy doing the most. Don’t be ashamed to put “scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration” on the list – be truthful with yourself at this moment. Nobody is judging you unless you start doing that yourself.
Step 3: Reflect on advice you give your friends
We all give a distinct impression to people around us. For example, my friends always come to me for advice on business development and relationships, because they know I have experience in these areas or they simply think I can share useful information with them. How about you? What kind of advice do your friends ask you for? The best restaurants in town? Fashion advice? Investment tips? List them.
Step 4: Consider sizzling hot pain points
Now that you’ve got a list of potential ideas let’s get into the minds of those who would bend the knee for your coveted advice. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they would do in an urgent situation.
For example, let’s say I am a bride-to-be, and I only have two months left to our wedding day, but it seems I still have a lot to arrange! With this panic attack, I would:
- Google “last minute wedding planning“
- Research local wedding planners
- Ask my bridesmaids and recently married friends to help
These subjective assumptions will need to be backed by in-depth research for places where these target audiences hang out both online and offline.
For instance, forums, associations, networking groups, wedding expos, and wedding sites would be likely suspects in this case. Drill down their complaints and real reasons why they are in pain.
One easy way is to apply the 5 Whys technique invented by Japanese industrialist, inventor, and founder of Toyota Industries, Sakichi Toyoda. It “is a simple and effective tool for solving problems. Its primary goal is to find the exact reason that causes a given problem by asking a sequence of ‘Why’ questions.”
This method can help you find the root cause of any problem. Is the bride-to-be feeling pressure from her parent’s unreasonable requests for wedding guests arrangements? Do the bride and groom-to-be have unresolved disagreements on the budget and plans?
This list is your holy grail – if you had the experience, how could you help this frazzled bride right now?
Step 5: Outline immediate solutions
This is where we come in as creative entrepreneurs, offering inventive solutions to those in need. Take out the lists from steps 1-3 and link them with the pain points. They represent the demand (pains) and supply (solutions). Did you find any matches?
In reference to the panicked bride example, there are a number of ways to help her immediately if you have wedding and event planning experience. This help could include:
- a holistic tiered checklist based on the importance of each task
- a weekly to-do for the next 2 months leading up to her big day
- a list of local wedding vendors with photos and pricing
- invitation and event design service recommendations
- a private wedding consultation with the couple
These are just a few ideas I came up with in three minutes. If you understand the biggest fears and problems of your potential clients, brainstorming solutions will come naturally.
Step 6: Your expertise has value – monetize it
Let go of your inner fear of “charging people for something I don’t think I’m good at.”
We all have progressed through different stages of our experiences, and this knowledge is invaluable for those who are just starting out. You are good enough to teach the newcomers who are in need of help and provide the solutions people need.
Selling doesn’t need to be sleazy. Remember, you’re offering immediate solutions for those who are willing to pay for convenience or assistance, in the same way, we’ll gladly pay a cab driver to get us to our destination.
Grace Chan is a designer, sales & marketing, side-project aficionado, and part-time entrepreneur. She is the founder of the ‘creativepreneur’ resources blog Elevate with Grace and fashion retail and manufacturing business GLUSH.