Why Great Creatives Make Great Business Owners

For a long time, I was a bit of a snob about writing.

I wrote fiction, and I thought that non-fiction writers, jobbing freelancers, weren’t “proper” writers at all. They weren’t doing anything creative. They were just business people.

And then, without really meaning too, I got into freelancing.

I started writing for money – and I was hooked. I loved it. I began to think that fiction writers and autobiographers were poor deluded saps who’d never get into print, let alone make a living.

Perhaps you’re on one side of a similar divide. Or perhaps you feel like you’re straddling it – with one foot in the creative world and one in the business world.

The truth is, that divide doesn’t have to exist at all. Creativity and business fit together perfectly. You absolutely can make money from your art without selling out.

Here’s how.

Creativity and Constraints

Have you ever been told, “Oh, paint anything for us – whatever you like.”

It’s supposed to be liberating. It’s not. It’s almost guaranteed to send you into creative shutdown.

Anything? Sheesh. How can you even begin to gather your ideas?

Having constraints actually makes you more creative. Maybe you’re designing websites for businesses, following the conventions but also introducing some innovation. Maybe you have a brief from your client, and you’re figuring out how to make a piece of music really engage their audience.

Don’t try to keep your writing separate from the rest of the world. Let business challenges come into play. They won’t kill your muse – they’ll give you something to work with.

Apply your creative powers to questions like:

  • How can I make a living from doing what I love?
  • What does my audience want?
  • Where’s the market for my art/writing/music/craft?

There’s nothing at all wrong with just creating for yourself, if that’s what you want to do. But many creatives, me included, feel that their work is only really complete when it finds an audience.

Turning your creativity into a business lets you reach readers. It’s not a distraction from the “real” work – it’s an integral part of it.

And, of course, you don’t need to put on a bland suit and equally bland personality to do business…

Business and Brilliance

I’m setting up a company with my brother right now. He’s studied economics and business. He knows all about business plans, limited companies, shares, and so on. He talks about a marketing budget – he’s thinking about advertising.

But I bring something to our business, too. I can use words to capture attention. I know that interruption marketing isn’t effective. I’ve got friends who’ll help, people who know me and trust me because I’m a real person, not some company suit.

You can certainly run a good business by following all the rules, ticking all the boxes, and dutifully filling in a model business plan. And, in fact, I’m really glad I have my brother on board, because I know that lots of these steps are indeed important for long-term success.

But I believe that for a truly great business, you need a bit of creativity in the mix.

The companies which I love – the ones which I return to time and time again – are the ones that make me feel something. Perhaps I’m inspired, or amused, or welcomed. These companies stand out from the crowd. They have copy that shows they’re human beings, not automatons.

Business doesn’t have to be boring. Hell, it shouldn’t be boring! Starting your own business should be just as much fun as doing your art – with plenty of room for your creativity and personality.

If you’re stuck between “creativity” and “business”, check out our new mini-Toolbox – little sister to the full Toolbox, and priced at just $19 with all three guides and a couple of bonuses too.

Post image from Flickr by marysecasol.com

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