Recently there has been an increase in exploring the connections between the arts and entrepreneurship. However, this interest has been directed more towards pushing the artist to become and think like an entrepreneur and less towards pushing the entrepreneur to think like an artist and with great reason.
If you think about it, if an artist does not develop an entrepreneurial mindset it’s going to be harder for them to sell their work or get any profit. They need to create, network, develop a price strategy, sell, and take financial risks.
Sounds pretty similar to what entrepreneurs or small business owners do, right? Sure, except they’re selling art. They have to create value or else they are not going to be very successful, and it’s far more difficult for people to see the value in art rather than a service or product.
We know why artists need to think like entrepreneurs. But, why is it important for an entrepreneur to believe he is an artist and to start thinking like one? Because artists are used to exercising their creativity.
It’s important for entrepreneurs to be creative, and for them to empower creativity within all levels of employees.
I came across a publication by Dr. Ian Fillis, from the Department of Marketing at the University of Stirling in Scotland. It’s titled “The Role of Creativity in Entrepreneurship,” and it talks about the benefits creativity has on an entrepreneurial environment which include better problem-solving and decision-making skills and the acceptance of ambiguity.
“Positive personality traits of creative individuals include high levels of energy, attraction towards complex and novel phenomena, openness to ambiguity, willingness to be open-minded and being persistent in adverse conditions. These factors are also located within the entrepreneurial personality.” (Fillis 19)
Adaptive and Innovative Creativity
Fillis identifies two styles of creativity: Adaptive and innovative. Adaptive creativity signifies the “reworking of existing ideas and concepts” referring to those individuals who are comfortable working within an existing procedure and look for improvements within it. Innovative creativity “relates to the invention of new and different ideas” referring to those individuals that challenge the conventional ways of doing things in order to improve them. No style of creativity is better or more important than the other; they are both essential to have in a creative organization.
So, how can we create an environment that welcomes entrepreneurial creativity? It’s important to harvest a flexible atmosphere with innovative leadership and open communication.
“A leadership style modeled on democracy and participation facilitates creativity and a leader’s vision is an important factor in managing creative individuals.”
Entrepreneurs should push for and reward creative thinking
They should empower employees to make decisions and solve problems, thus taking a more active role in their positions. For that communication and flexibility are going to be of utmost importance; as well as developing a work culture where problems are seen as opportunities. Entrepreneurs, then, need to not only be leaders but creative leaders.
In an interview with Business News Daily, Tina Seeling (executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program) proposed “We can make the pathways to innovation much smoother by teaching people specific tools and techniques. At the core is the ability to look at problems from different angles, to connect and combine concepts, and the ability to challenge traditional assumptions. These are skills that require practice to master.”
A very important point that Seeling touches on is the understanding that creativity is not just going to come to you. You have to train yourself to be creative, and there are tools that facilitate this practice, but this must be ongoing.
Entrepreneurial creativity exists within the lifespan of an individual, not within the lifespan of a particular business; this means that the success of an entrepreneur’s business is in consequence of his creative practice rather than vice versa. You don’t start thinking creatively when your business is at a point where it is going well; but rather, creative thinking is what will set the path towards a successful business.