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Business and creativity aren’t generally thought to go hand-in-hand. The idea is that you have either creative head-in-the-cloud types or practical business types. But then there’s the entrepreneur, who both creates an innovative new offering, and uses business savvy to try get the market to catch it. The entrepreneur is more than a business person, but also a creative. The intrepid entrepreneur performs a balancing act between the brain’s left and right hemispheres. So how does the link between entrepreneurship and creativity work?
The chicken or the egg
One way to look at the link is to ask whether an entrepreneur first starts off being creative, or being practical. In other words, which comes first, creativity or practicality? The chicken or the egg?
A common perception is that the entrepreneur must first have that creative spark to get the ball rolling – that initial “eureka!” moment. And that business savvy is required thereafter to bring the idea to fruition.
But that might not always be the case. While a preliminary creative idea is important, that doesn’t mean that creativity isn’t needed throughout the entire process. According to an article by Martin Zwilling, a Forbes contributor, “Experienced entrepreneurs will tell you that the initial idea is the easy part, and it’s the later implementation and the competitive business marketing that are the real creative challenges.”
Sometimes the channels you use, the way you package an idea and how you go about marketing your product requires just as much creativity as that original creative burst of inspiration.
Also, sometimes that “eureka” moment need not be the most creative, innovative idea the world has ever seen to make for a highly successful entrepreneurial endeavour.
Sometimes, what makes many entrepreneurs successful isn’t that they had a once-in-a-lifetime light bulb moment. It may be that their ingenuity lay more in their innovative business solutions. They might even use an idea that’s already been done before by someone else, but tackle it anew from a different perspective, or repackage it in a different way. How often do we see something become hugely successful, even though the idea has been done before by someone else?
Sometimes an entrepreneur is criticised for recycling an idea, but shouldn’t credence be given for being able to look at something that’s already been done, and see a way to do it a different way? After all, creativity just as much recreation as it is creation.
What’s more, like another Forbes contributor, Paul Brown says in his article, the best entrepreneurs aren’t the ones who come up with the greatest ideas. They’re the ones who solve market needs. So while creativity is a lauded quality of the entrepreneur, don’t forget that a firm, practical grasp of the market is just as important.
What does creativity even mean?
Perhaps we shouldn’t even be thinking of creativity and business-savvy as mutually exclusive concepts. Creativity requires seeing the connection between seemingly unrelated components. While this is a creative function, it sounds like some kind of real-world practicality would be useful here too.
Entrepreneurs, and others, would do well to exercise both their left and right brains (metaphorically speaking of course, because the left/right brain dichotomy is a myth). There’s a use for the artistically minded to go to business school, and for business types to flex their creative powers.
So asking whether a successful entrepreneur should first begin with a creative idea, or apply creativity during the phase of implementation, is like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg? It can’t really be answered, doesn’t really matter, and at the end of the day you need both anyway.
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