In the past publications and perhaps a few to come, I will mostly be focusing on the common problems that entrepreneurs face and how they can get themselves back on track. I have noticed that many people come to me seeking business advice for basically the same issues – funding, dwindling market share, constantly increasing cost of doing business and human resource issues. I took a look at some of the problems singly in previous editions but generally, every solution boils down to the entrepreneur’s ability to be creative in business delivery and management.

Imagine that you’re a small business owner, as many of us are, trying to navigate the daily challenges that beset businesses yet there is a recurring problem that’s been plaguing your company for weeks and threatening its existence. Perhaps you’ve tried the usual approaches, but nothing seems to work. Everyone is looking to you for a solution but you have run out of ideas. You are gradually yielding to the frustration and getting into a rut, rethinking the very sense behind the business and wondering if quitting will not be the best solution.

This scenario is all too familiar for many business owners. It’s easy to get trapped in conventional methods, thinking that you have tried all the available solutions, and then overlook the power of creativity. Thinking ‘out of the box’ can be a game-changer, leading to innovative solutions and new opportunities. Thinking ‘out of the box’ refers to the ability to approach problems, challenges and opportunities in unusual and innovative ways. It involves breaking away from traditional or established norms, assumptions and limitations to generate creative solutions and ideas. Thinking out of the box is creativity in action. It encourages fresh perspectives and a willingness to explore new possibilities beyond conventional boundaries. Sometimes, thinking out of the box may not entail a new discovery; you could just pick an already existing service, product or process, give it your own twist and brand it.

A long time ago, when I was still a graduate student in Harvard, I became friends with an elementary school teacher. One day I noticed that he was very upset and when I asked, he said he was going to have a practical teaching test in a few days and he was going to be judged by some higher-ups in the new school he was hoping to work in. I asked him why he was so anxious and he told me that instead of a 15kids classroom, they were giving him 30 children to manage. For him it was a major problem, like being set up to fail, because he was used to smaller groups with a more one-on-one approach. I couldn’t see the problem, coming from a country where some elementary classes could have 40 pupils or more and everyone would be okay. I shared the common sitting arrangement for pupils in our country with him and how the ‘listen and chime’ method was used to keep the kids interested and engaged. My friend found my story incredible but adapted my ideas all the same and he sailed through his test. He said they gave him an excellent score for creativity and innovation just because he adopted an existent though foreign concept. Many times, the problem of the entrepreneur is that he is so busy that he has no time to read or research to find solutions that exist in other countries and adapt them to suit his peculiar situation.

When faced with challenges, a creative mindset allows business owners to explore alternative solutions. Instead of following the same old methods, thinking outside the box can lead to breakthrough ideas that solve problems more efficiently and effectively. Take the story of Sarah, a restaurant owner facing a decline in customer footfall. Instead of sticking to traditional marketing tactics, she decided to think outside the box. Sarah collaborated with local artistes to host themed nights at her restaurant. This attracted a new crowd and revitalized her business.

Innovation is the lifeblood of successful businesses. By encouraging out-of-the-box thinking, business owners can inspire their teams to come up with products, services and processes that set them apart from the competition. Have you wondered how amazing it was when concert halls were designed to have many floors/galleries thereby increasing the number of spectators and making more money per show for the management and artistes? Consider the case of James, a young entrepreneur struggling to streamline his inventory management. Instead of relying solely on existing software, he thought creatively and developed a customized solution that not only solved his inventory woes but also became a sought-after product in the market.

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, adaptability is crucial. Thinking creatively enables business owners to adjust to new trends, technologies and consumer demands, staying ahead of the curve and remaining relevant in the market. A friend used to say that all banks offer similar services but the reason one is preferred to the other is its service delivery style and this difference can only be made through creative innovations. A certain retail store owner, Mike, adapted to changing consumer preferences by embracing creativity as he revamped his store layout. He introduced interactive displays and offered personalized shopping experiences, staying ahead of his local competitors and delighting his customers.

Creativity often involves taking risks and trying new things. While every idea may not succeed, the willingness to take calculated risks can lead to unexpected successes and valuable learning experiences. Encouraging creativity fosters a culture of innovation and engagement among employees. When employees feel empowered to think creatively and contribute their ideas, they are more motivated and invested in the success of the business.

Thinking outside the box helps businesses stand out in a crowded marketplace. Unique ideas, creative marketing strategies, and innovative approaches to customer service can differentiate a business from its competitors and attract loyal customers. Look at an artist like Kelechi Amadi Obi, known world over for his amazing photography, he chose to differentiate himself by pushing creative boundaries. His unique style and innovative approach to the art not only attract clients but also set him apart as a master in the industry.

Creativity fuels long-term growth and sustainability. Businesses that continuously innovate and adapt are better equipped to navigate challenges, seize opportunities and thrive in the long run.

Whether you’re solving problems, innovating products, or engaging employees, thinking ‘out of the box’ is not just a strategy—it’s a mindset that can transform your business and pave the way for long-term growth.

So, as a business owner, don’t throw your hands in the air and think of quitting. Dare to dream, search for ‘new’ ideas and experiment, embrace the magic of creativity. Who knows? Your next breakthrough could be just a creative thought away.

So long

Fatherhood with Ibe


Onyeisi was my friend in primary school.  He was a bit bigger than most of us in his class and could get into a fight at the drop of a hat. Onyeisi’s boiling point was quite low. Call him ‘puff puff’ as some school boys used to, due to his size, and he would drop his bag and start a huge fight. Look at him in a certain way without even saying a word and a fight could start out. He never cared how big his opponent was – he lost the fight sometimes but he always left a mark on his adversary’s body because Onyeisi could fight with any available weapon. After a while, it was generally accepted in the school that it was wise to steer clear of Onyeisi.

I was his friend. He liked the fact that I could help him with his homework. I was smallish in stature then and not at all open to fights. However, the fear of Onyeisi removed me from the victims list for the bullies in the school because to get to me, they would have had to take down Onyeisi first. Mission impossible!

We went on to different secondary schools and after a while, we lost touch. It was years and years later, when my Dad died that Onyeisi traced me through the information he got via media announcements.

It was great to see him after so long. Just looking at him, it was obvious that the years had been good to him but there was still that mafia thug air around him that clearly warned people not to mess with this one. We hurriedly made plans to see again after the funeral and catch up.

On the day of the appointment, I had an unexpected event so rather than cancel our plans, I asked Onyeisi to meet me at the venue of the event. I was so glad that I did. He came in looking just right. He was still a big bodied fellow but the baby fat had been replaced by muscles. He looked fit and capable and was as bubbly as ever; he livened up what could have been a boring event. We just talked generally and once or twice, I saw a glimpse of his short temper but he quickly controlled himself and when I teased him gently, he just laughed it off.

I was glad to have reconnected with him and we planned to meet again at my house so we could relax and get to really catch up. On the day of the appointment, my wife arranged a variety of dishes because I had regaled her with several anecdotes of my time with Onyeisi in primary school.

At the exact time, Onyeisi horned at the gate and was let into my compound. He was alone. He didn’t look so happy. I greeted him cautiously and he responded and even flashed a smile for my wife. He said he would not stay for long because he had a family issue to sort out. I patted his back and told him to have a bite of the meals prepared for him. Reluctantly, he sat with us at the table, ate and thanked my wife effusively for the reception. He then told me some of the experiences he had had over the years. He said that although he had made some good progress in his business in the real estate industry and was quite comfortable financially, he was having a terrible family life.

“No one ever gets it totally right,” I comforted him kindly. “We keep trying; making mistakes and correcting them as best as we can.” I added.

He sighed dramatically.

“If only it was that simple.” He said and started telling me stories that chilled my soul.

(To be continued)