All Artists are Entrepreneurs

Whether you’re an artist, designer, musician, photographer, writer or crafts person, all creative people start with a vision of something new and a determination and passion to see that vision made real. They create something from nothing more than an idea. So do entrepreneurs.

Professor Howard Stevenson at the Harvard Business School defines entrepreneurship as, “the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled.” For entrepreneurs, trying to create something new with little resources; it’s a risky business.

Bringing anything new into reality involves all kinds of emotional peaks and valleys. Businesses don’t just appear out of nowhere! Those who create, no matter what they create; know that the process is not for the faint of heart.

Entrepreneurship, like the creative process, involves much trial and error and therefore risk. Will I find a customer or audience for my vision? Do I have the technical means to pull it off? Who can I collaborate with to make this happen? Where will I find the money and resources I need?

Artists, like all entrepreneurs employ similar methods to manage that risk:

  1. They tell stories! Creators often need to inspire potential collaborators, audiences, and financiers with the story of their idea – their world-view. Innovative, creative and new ideas require persuasion to inspire others to join your journey and share the risk.
  2. They collaborate. Amit Gupta, CEO, Tenlegs notes, “Some of the most groundbreaking artistic works have resulted when artists with knowledge and experience from distant genres and ideas, just like theatre, film or dance are collaborative by nature requiring money, many skills and resources – no one person can make a film!”
  3. They experiment. Entrepreneurs make much of the Lean Start Up approach, which Harvard Business Review defines as, “…the smallest possible set of activities required to rigorously test a business model hypothesis.”

Luckily for all of us, an intense focus on planning is no longer at the forefront of entrepreneurship. Instead, entrepreneurs like all artists first must act, and then learn from the actions they take.

Businesses–just like works of art–first start as in idea. They are formed in the minds of people who see novel connections around them, who see the opportunity these connections present, and who are able to take appropriate action to bring their ideas into reality. That means, the entrepreneurial process is in many ways a creative process and is not unlike the creative process artists employ every day.