When you think of design, you probably think of visuals — logos, colors, perhaps shapes.
Design does incorporate visuals, but if that’s all you think it is, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity as an entrepreneur. Design is something that every human is capable of. It’s a visible and invisible universal language that communicates the quality of an experience.
Designers see the world as pliable — we can shape it to meet our needs and drive innovation. If you begin a new venture without focusing on design, you are taking the human experience element out of the equation. But that could be a costly mistake, as business is all about humans.
Luckily, applying design thinking to your venture doesn’t require a special set of skills or 10,000 hours of practice. You just need to take these four steps:
1. Tell a Story
Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil defines storytelling as the first technology. It’s how you start a company, build a brand, and deliver a product. In fact, great storytelling will forge an emotional bond between you and your audience. This is critical when attempting to convince someone that your company is smarter, better, or different than the competition. So don’t merely sell your product or service. Make it an experience.
Apple isn’t Apple because it sells electronics. After all, RadioShack, Best Buy, and Circuit City all did that before Apple. Apple is Apple because it tells an irresistible story. People want to be a part of what the company does. Nike is another company that does an excellent job of this. It empowers consumers to join a team and invites them to be part of the story.
2. Use Visual Aids
Start building the visual side of your brand from day one. Once you’ve identified your story, you’ll begin to see the underlying metaphors that describe your value and make you unique. Creating a visual version of your model will introduce you to additional ways to tell your story. Map your business model on a whiteboard, and let the ideas and thoughts flow.
3. Delay Solutions
Whatever you do, don’t jump to conclusions. Always take a step back, frame your opportunities, and weigh your options before you solve a problem. Being analytical pushes the envelope of creativity and innovation. Your audience will notice this.
4. Ask Yourself, “How Might We?”
Use this powerful paradigm to reframe your challenges. Asking this question transforms a problem into an opportunity and opens the door to endless possibilities. Viewing your challenges as opportunities breeds positivity and productivity.
As an entrepreneur, it pays to be design-minded with everything you do. It’s crucial to staying ahead of the curve, attracting clients and customers, and telling the story of your greatness.