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Mary H. Ruth : Business Success, the Creative Way

Business Success, the Creative Way: Three Propositions

By Mary H. Ruth

The development of personal creativity is a rewarding journey that many people are exploring nowadays. In the less personal world of business, as well, there are multiple ways in which attunement to creativity is bringing success to those who are awake to its practices. Consider the following three propositions.

1. Business requires sustainability

Different from the old business model, the creative organization prizes sustainability above profit. Of course, it's still necessary to show net gain from your business, and you still want to steadily increase this amount. But before considering whether a proposition is profitable, the wise business owner today considers first its sustainability.

What is meant by 'sustainability'? The definition is wide-ranging, including everything from your business' impact in the environment, to the reliability of raw materials and vendors, to the strength of your organizational structure, and the expected life of the market for your product.

Sustainability has become the key factor in business planning because global population has exploded and communication/information sharing is now instant. While traditionally a business could successfully serve a general local need, in our time such a business can do little more than tread water: think the locally-owned pharmacy still hanging on to customers in your home town. To be viably sustainable, rather than serving a general local need, your business must serve a very specific global need.

2. Business seeks niches

Another way that commerce today differs from the past is the way advertising is done. In a smaller world, it was appropriate to announce your service or product to the general public through newspaper ads or other conduits. In our present global awareness, what works in marketing is to amass an opt-in mailing list, and build your sales in large part by word of mouth. This has been distinguished as an 'inbound' approach to marketing as opposed to the old 'outbound' processes (see Mike Volpe at

Niche marketing is the method of choice for small businesses. If you want to see the best return on your marketing investments, you work on establishing communications and connections — i.e., real relationships — with your specific buyers.

3. Sustainability and niche marketing are achieved through creative practices

Configuring your business to be sustainable and to establish rapport with niche markets requires more than knowledge about your industry, the trends, and finances; it requires your creativity. Why? Sustainability requires innovation and establishing niche markets requires very specific self-definition. And innovation and self-definition are cultivated through creative practices.

Note the difference between self-definition and specialization. It's not necessary to specialize differently from others, but it does help significantly to self-define as different from others. You can sell me insurance, or golf balls, or gum, I will be the same willing buyer if you're the same seller I've come to know and trust. If you have not established my trust, you probably won't be able to sell me anything.

Defining yourself and your business very specifically in relation to others (i.e., your present and future clientele) means devoting time and care to:

  • your personal creativity,
  • creative practices as part of basic organizational structure,
  • ongoing monitoring and innovation to improve sustainability,
  • encouraging creativity in staff members, and
  • being alert every day to creative opportunities both within and without your particular environment.

This may sound like a lot to take on, but once you've turned towards the creative life, you'll see no reason to go back. Creative practices increase your value with niche markets while maximizing resources sustainably. •

© 2008 Mary H. Ruth. All rights reserved.

Mary H. RuthMary H. Ruth owns and operates Virtual Writing & Communications Solutions, offering writing and administrative support for businesses and professionals. More »