Don’t Get Stuck in ‘Entrepreneurial Adolescence’

When you start a business you tend to kick off by focusing all your creative energies on developing your idea, your ‘invention’. And rightly so; it’s what you have to do.

Sooner than you think, though, you’ll need to start being equally creative about building a business.

And the chances are, you won’t do it.

You’ll see creativity and business as necessary bedfellows yet essentially separate.

You’ll be wrong. You won’t realise that being creative about your business is the only way to become a true entrepreneur. I’m talking about any and every kind of embryonic enterprise, from a pop-up BBQ stall to the next iTunes.

In the previous paragraph I’ve put the words ‘business’ and ‘creative’ together in a specific way; “being…creative about…business.” I’m not merely being pedantic — though I’m often that too — I’m showing how the way we use language reveals something fundamental about how we see creativity and business, as if they are two base elements that we combine to make a new economic compound, like mixing ‘x’ and ‘y’ to make ‘z’.

We tend to see them as separate, pre-existing entities. We think we already know them, the creative stuff and the business stuff.

The creative stuff: that’s the part that evolves and mutates and takes new forms.

The business stuff: that doesn’t really change much, hardly at all, unless the government ups the rate of sales tax or something. It’s a mostly static world of spreadsheets, accounts, org. charts, Board meetings and so on. In fact, we’re often so reductive in our thinking about ‘business’ that we only see it in terms of financial admin.

It’s this notion — that the business part of launching your own enterprise, however modest or grand the ambition, is already known, is a fixed entity, a set of received templates that just need a bit of tweaking to facilitate turning your idea into money — that kills so many fledgling businesses.

And those it doesn’t kill it tends to stall in a state of arrested development, a perpetual entrepreneurial adolescence.

This is an extract from the book I’m currently writing, provisionally entitled Innovate Everything, about how to systematically grow an idea into a business.

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