Time For Creative Entrepreneurs To Be More Business-Driven
Professor Helena Gaunt, Vice-Principal at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, says it’s time for creative entrepreneurs to polish up their business skills in order to succeed and make the difference they’re interested in.
The ongoing global financial crisis and funding cuts have forced a new generation of entrepreneurial talent to think creatively.
Some say entrepreneurs have become the rock stars of a new, internet-driven world stage, forging success with new business models and tapping into technologies to square up to their more established rivals.
However, for entrepreneurs with creative businesses, it hasn’t always been so easy to see how to take advantage of the changing landscapes.
Much has been written about the need for business leaders to think creatively. But there’s also a real argument for creatives to think about the business behind their creativity.
For too long, art and business have been seen as two entirely different worlds.
Some artists regard the marketplace as a threat to their cultural integrity, while some people at the coal face of the ‘real world’, dismiss the art world as rarefied and remote. This narrow-minded mindset doesn’t serve anyone well.
Creative entrepreneurship draws on best practice from a savvy business but allows the individual creative entrepreneur to make the most of their own skills and drive.
To create a business that will support your artistic and creative endeavours, you’re going to need to learn as much as you can about how businesses really succeed.
As a professional musician and teacher, I have experienced the transformative power of talented artists collaborating creatively. I have also seen at first hand the struggle those same artists can face in making their way in a commercial environment.
I believe artists have a lot to contribute to the economy, and that business, in turn, can be enriched by the values and practices of art.
“Focus On The Opportunity”
For anyone starting a business it’s not necessarily about being the first to market but there does need to be some ‘white space’ for your idea. An entrepreneur needs to unlock the potential in new audiences – whether you’re putting together a performance or a professional service.
Fixating on who is likely to buy or engage with your service or product can give you a better understanding of possibilities, including how much to charge, how to shape your service or product and how to market it.
“Learn From Other Industries”
Some of the most intriguing businesses have emerged when very traditional industries have been re-imagined. Can you do the same?
If you’ve always appreciated the customer service you experience at a top hotel, are there lessons you can learn that could impact how you treat your own customers or audiences? Is there a simplicity of approach in many of the ‘uber-ised’ new delivery mechanisms that you could tap into?
“Planning Is Creative”
Despite a reputation of mind-numbing spreadsheets, the real art of business planning can draw on your most creative instincts.
Ultimately, you’re creating something from nothing and that requires research, stamina, and imagination. Don’t treat the planning aspects of your business like unwanted homework. Put yourself in the right possible frame of mind to attack the planning of your business and put the work in.
You’ve got a blank page in which to devise something really wonderful, even if the blank page might actually be a spreadsheet.
The best business advice ever is ‘don’t run out of money’ but it’s so simple that too many entrepreneurs ignore it. It’s the reason that most businesses fail – even the really big, established ones. Don’t be complacent.
Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity and cash-flow is the reality. If you run out of money because your clients are late in paying, or you miscalculated your expenses, you won’t have long to resurrect the situation before going under.
Be eagle-eyed about cash flow. You may have to put on a brave face now and again but never kid yourself about money.
“Creativity Is In Demand”
Despite what we so often hear about cuts to the artistic community and the struggle of the artist, creative talent is still very much sought after.
The world sometimes feels like it’s become more and more automated but the creatives, the artists, the performers, the writers, and artisans aren’t easy to replace.
You might be surprised how the skills and talents that you take for granted are just what other people are looking for. Find a way to hone your creativity and find the audiences who are willing to value what you can give and pay for it.