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Balancing Left Brain and Right Brain as a Business Owner

Posted by PCC Small Business Development Center on September 28, 2017

balancing left and right brain as a business ownerThe theory behind left brain versus right brain is rooted in the notion that the two halves of the brain control very different functions of our minds. The left brain is believed to control language, sequencing, math, and logic, while the right side of the brain is the more creative side, where feelings, imagination, and artistic abilities reside.

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to understand how the two halves of the brain work together. One would naturally think of a business owner as being logical, detail-oriented problem-solvers. However, many businesses rely on creativity as a basis for the product or service they sell. Creativity is also important for marketing and advertising — the “art of persuasion” is associated with right-brain thinkers. Business owners need to be able to balance left- and right-brain thinking.

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The left brain/right brain theory was first suggested in the 1960s. More recently, the two sides are sometimes referred to as the digital (left) half and the analog (right) half. The left side is thought to be better at reading, writing, and computation, while the right half is less organized and more creative.

In recent years, some controversy has arisen about the validity of the left brain/right brain theory. In general, while there is agreement that different halves of the brain control different functions, researchers don’t believe the two halves operate independently. However, differences in individual strengths and preferences can cause one side or the other to appear dominant.

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What’s important for a business owner is to find a way to balance the functions of each side. For example, being overly focused on the creative side of your business -- whether it’s the nature of the business itself (such as floral design, for example) or spending too much time and resources on creating marketing campaigns without tying them to goals and metrics — is likely to lead to an unbalanced campaign and disappointing results. Conversely, an excessive focus on numbers can result in dry, unappealing marketing campaigns that fail to resonate on an emotional level or customer experiences that lack meaning. In addition, too much right-brain thinking can lead to “paralysis of analysis”; you run the risk of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

3 Tips for Using Both Sides of Your Brain When Marketing Your Business

1. Use an Integrated Approach

Creating unique brand experiences is important, but it’s also important to gain insights from analytics. To avoid putting too much focus on one and not enough on the other, divide your marketing development process into two phases, one for creative activities, such as brainstorming, building content, and creating visuals, and the other for analysis, things like tracking, reporting, and market segmentation. If you use separate teams for each process, ensure that they are communicating and coordinating with each other.

2. Make a Commitment

Commit to balancing left brain and right brain activities. If your company is out of balance, it may require changes in your company culture and operations. The best way to effect big changes is to lead by example. Be a champion for change and demonstrate your commitment to a balanced approach.

3. Build a Balanced Team

Your hiring and promotion strategy should include a focus on individuals who demonstrate an ability to balance “both-brain” skills. Encourage left-brain and right-brain team members to cooperate and collaborate. Identify training opportunities to strengthen both-brain skills.

Marketing is often regarded as a right-brain activity, the domain of creatives and artistic types. But without attention to data and analytics, there’s a risk that your marketing campaign will be ineffective. Likewise, relying too much on analysis can stunt the creative process and result in uninspired, boring campaigns and customer experiences. Promote a “both-brain” approach, starting at the top, with clear decision-making processes and appropriate training to build a more balanced process and improve marketing performance.

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The Oregon Small Business Development Center Portland Community College has  helped thousands of businesses over the past 30 years. We combine one-on-one  advising with programs taught by business experts, giving our clients the  resources they need to grow their businesses. We’ve celebrated many successes  with our clients. We'd love to celebrate your success. 

Topics: Small Business, Growing a Business

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