Do we need some kind of permission to be creative? To live and do business outside the box? I mean, it\u2019s not that small business creativity has to be so wild and far out\u2014it just has to be.\u00a0 I meet a lot of small business owners who deal with creativity as an afterthought.\u00a0 Well, just because our companies are small doesn\u2019t mean our ideas and our solutions have to be tiny, too. Of course, creativity and innovation don't have to be over the top, either. Fast Company just came out with their 2011 100 Most Creative People in Business. It\u2019s a diverse list with dynamic stories that inspire me (and hopefully you, too).\u00a0 Whether you are designing a physical product, redefining a company, writing stories and jokes, or figuring out a new way to communicate your political or corporate message, it\u2019s the creativity that makes a company, a brand, an idea stand out. And creativity works for small businesses too. \u00a0In the beginning every business was a small business, so why should we act like creativity is something for the big boys?\u00a0From some of my favorites on the list, I learned a few things that we can use in our businesses. Connect the Team Musician Bruno Mars, No. 48 on the list, keeps a production team around him.\u00a0 When he gets song ideas, he gathers the trio and the three of them make music.\u00a0 Each small business has a rhythm of its own.\u00a0 Identify your key creative team members and carve out some space for the ideas to bounce around the team.\u00a0 That\u2019s how Tiny Prints (Laura Ching, No. 60 on the list), an online stationery company, took off.\u00a0 The team was already in place, meeting weekly and just looking for a great idea. We cannot do it by ourselves.\u00a0 It takes a (dynamic) team to build our small businesses and make them last. Protect the Mission Educator Sal Khan, No. 7 on the list, created Khan Academy, a video library for students.\u00a0 According to its About page, the academy\u2019s goal is to provide \u201ca free world-class education for anyone anywhere.\u201d\u00a0 While Khan Academy is a nonprofit and by nature mission-driven, it\u2019s no different for for-profit businesses.\u00a0 We are all driven by a mission of some kind; our companies should be too.\u00a0 Define the core problem you solve, the people you solve it for, the process you use to get it done and how you could improve on it.\u00a0 Use your team to put it all together. Embrace the Change Plan out your best ideas--and then leave room for change.\u00a0 Comedian Conan O\u2019Brien, No. 8 on the list, has a staff of writers, and he constantly reviews and rewrites what they provide.\u00a0 Even after they hash everything out, he may change it and add to it on the air.\u00a0 Preparation is powerful, but so is having the guts to make the right kinds of changes.\u00a0 Prepare ahead of time, but leave some space to read your audience (your customers) and adjust to the moment. Honor the Inspiration Oprah Winfrey, No. 12 on the list, sits among 12 oak trees in her yard for inspiration, while Arianna Huffington\u2019s (No. 10) ideas come from naps. Conan\u2019s inspiration seems wild and overwhelming to me, but it works for him. Find your inspiration and let it work for you. It\u2019s creativity that solves the problems that others will not and/or cannot.\u00a0 It\u2019s the systematic way of protecting creativity that allows you to build a business around it. Speaking of systems, Conan debriefs after every show to see what works, and the Middle East media outlet Al Jazeera (Wadah Khanfar, No. 1 on the list), has an online system in place that allows citizens to submit content about what\u2019s happening in their country.\u00a0 It\u2019s good to make room for creativity and to set up systems that maximize all the voices and ideas around you.