What if you’re not creative? Invest in this instead…


I know you. You want recurring revenue. You want to make money while you sleep. You don't mind working for it. You want to create a product or service. And you want success.

But you're left with one big question: “What if I'm not creative?”

What if you're not creative?

The question comes after several years of being told by everyone of the importance of creativity. So there you are, paused and stuck because you don't have your big idea. Now I don't know about you but I've seen a lot of stuff pass as “creativity” that just stinks.

In one session, I saw a group of people that put random words in a hat, then took two out and had to create a business plan around it.

That's not creativity. That's insanity. But let me get back to my point.

First, know this: You don't need creativity.

Knowledge Trumps Creativity

One of my forty mantras is “knowledge trumps creativity.” I say it because it's true.

We don't need 20 new ways to solve a problem. We just need to investigate how others have solved it, and then see what we can leverage, apply, and how we can improve it. But today I don't want to challenge you about knowledge.

Instead, I want to push you even further, because hey, you like it. And you want it. You want a way to move forward when you're stuck.

I know a lack of creativity can feel like it'll kill you, but it's not true. And while it's true that knowledge can trump creativity, what if you don't have the needed knowledge?

Work Ethic Trumps Knowledge

Look, you know this. There are no shortcuts. Plus, even if you had the brilliant idea, it's not important. Ideas are free. Execution is what counts.

By the way, if you hope that sitting in a room, listening to music, and smoking something will inspire you to get that big idea, let's get this straight – you're no Snoop Dog.

This weekend I'll be speaking about execution – and that's just a fancy word for work ethic.

Why Work Ethic Wins

Most of the time we think we need a brand new idea. That's crap. You don't need a brand new idea to add value in the world. You just need to find a pain worthy of improving.

How do you find it? You talk to people. You ask people. You spend time digging into places where people complain (like help desk tickets).

Don't look for pain #27. Look for pains 1, 2 and 3. And decide, right now that you'll dig into that in a deep way. Not casual. Not at a cursory level. No – this is where work ethic shines.

Because work ethic moves you past lazy people who don't want to put in the work to find real problems, real pain, and the real nuances that keep that pain from being solved.

I know, you're thinking, I know lots of problems in the world. But here's the thing. There's a reason someone smarter than you (and me) hasn't solved it already. So go find it out.

And then get ready to work.

Seven Steps to Get Past Stuck

Here are my seven steps to working past being stuck.

  1. Wake up and decide that you're going to go digging for pain.
  2. Review the places where people are talking about pain.
  3. Find a couple people that are willing to talk to you about this pain.
  4. Ask them questions. Tons of them. History. Competitors. Pricing.
  5. Create an opinionated product.
  6. Share your opinion and find others who share it. That's your tribe.
  7. Test your hypotheses and see if you've found a good fit.

Notice what's not there? Yup – the whole “I need to be creative and come up with something brand new.”

Does that help? Tell me – post a comment below.