In the US and Europe, entrepreneurs have shown us how a combination of creativity and business sense have generated millions of dollars in wealth for owners and shareholders. Catherina Fake was an art director at Salon.com before becoming the founder of Flickr. Kevin Rose was in TV production before he founded Digg.
The common fallacy that mathematics, science and a personalised number plate ('CASHMAN') are the ingredients for success in business no longer holds weight. As our economies decentralise and management structures in organisations flatten, fewer straight 'businesspeople' will be needed to get the job done.
The business world is now more unpredictable. There are fewer answers found buried in case studies. Businesspeople need to think and experiment, and come up with original ideas. It is creative people who have the critical thinking to solve problems that are positioned to make great entrepreneurs.
In the past a lack of business sense and infrastructure kept creative people at bay. Creative types were farmed by businesspeople who exclusively controlled a network of contacts and logistics to sell their products and services. This is no longer the case. 'Managers' are being bypassed because they no longer wield as much control. This part of the value chain has been flattened.
Simultaneously, creativity has moved up the chain.
Examples include music artists selling their tunes on MySpace, visual artists selling their work on Etsy, and graphics designers working freelance projects from Elance. Creative people have more bargaining power at the IPO table, and are consulting in the boardroom. Titles like Director of Innovation and Chief Creative Officer are not uncommon.
People who are not thinking about how they can become creative are in danger of becoming obsolete. The 'struggling artist' is about to be replaced by the 'struggling manager'. This idea is supported in Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind, where Daniel claims that right brain people (creatives) will rule the future.
However, creativity and a flattened value chain alone is no guarantee of success. Venture capitalists want a sound concept and revenue model, but they also want to work with entrepreneurs who are investable. Here are two indispensable qualities to look for in entrepreneurs.
The Google guys, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were forever scrounging for old computer parts to build the servers needed to index the entire internet. This frugality gave Google a competitive edge, it still maintains today - its enormous, but inexpensive computing power. Google's server farm is bigger than Microsoft, which is why Google is able to come out with so many free products. Creative entrepreneurs need to show VCs they can use initiative to turn dust into gold.
'Never give up' said Donald Trump, the entrepreneur from New York who built a real estate empire. Thomas Edison was said to have tried one thousand times before perfecting the light globe. He's quoted as saying 'I have not failed. I've found 1,000 ways a light bulb will not work'.
If it wasn't hard, someone else would have already done it. Without passion and a belief in the mission, the entrepreneur will not weather the storm. The enormous sacrifice of personal time, wealth and probably health will beat them before their idea sees the light of day.
Ideas are not enough. A successful entrepreneur is an athlete who possesses the maturity, discipline and physical strength necessary to cope with the unexpected problems that arise. It's a good time to be a creative entrepreneur.
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