The Startup
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The Startup

Why Creators Should Ditch the Obsolete ‘Entrepreneur Mindset’

If you think like an entrepreneur, you’ll make excuses like one.

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

Before I toss a dull, dictionary definition of “entrepreneurship,” let me tell you why we need it.

Right now, someone could be writing a tweet. A tweet that will happen to go viral. He or she will then make a quick affiliate buck by plugging a vibrator and a skin moisturizer in the comments section.

All of it during the span of a long number two.

Getting a high ROI on potty time is not some business strategy you learn in an MBA. It’s not the model of the classical entrepreneur, but the internet smarts of the creator.

They are different mindsets. And if you’re a creator that still thinks like an entrepreneur, you’re crippling yourself. But what’s the difference exactly? Give it up for that dictionary definition.

“An entrepreneur is a person who takes on financial risks in the hope of profit”

Based on that definition, I reckon classical entrepreneurs had it rough.

One tiny slip up in their business plan and they could find themselves with a mortgaged house and a garage full of unsold inventory — a garage they now owe to the bank.

But for us creators? We don’t hope for profit.

We’re quick on the draw for dropping Buy Me a Coffee links and Gumroad goodies at the slight hint of exposure.

The internet is a Wild West and we are the fastest gunslingers around — and well, you just read a paragraph on tweeting a pooing above, and I’m getting my two cents for that.

If creators think like entrepreneurs, they’ll make excuses like them too

I say “they” but I make these excuses too.

I’m not only part of the group; I’m at the front of the mob, carrying a banner and howling battle cries. “It’s not the right time.” “What if it fails?” “I haven’t saved enough money.” “I don’t have what it takes.”

These excuses prevent us from starting, from persisting, from finding meaning in the blank page — even though there’s nothing written there.

But the truth is, we make those excuses because we’re still thinking like entrepreneurs. And we shouldn’t. Here’s why.

Entrepreneurs say, “it’s not the right time”

And they’re right: it's never the right time to embark on a risky journey.

Entrepreneurs have to be bold and reckless, like Christopher Columbus staring at an ocean of risk and uncertainty and thinking, “I’m sailing seawards!”

But times change. The odds get better.

The last time I went to America it didn’t take a 2-month voyage but a 12-hour flight. I watched The Last Samurai, had a nap, and disembarked. I also departed from the Canary Islands. Call me a conquistador.

Entrepreneurs will be constantly running out of money, connections, experience, and luck. But it’s always the perfect time for a creator to hit publish. The sun never sets in the content creation empire.

Entrepreneurs worry, “what if it fails?”

Failure in entrepreneurship is a criminal record.

In some cases, literally. I bet no one wants to hang out at the water cooler with the gal from Theranos anymore (mainly because that water cooler’s in jail). Entrepreneurs dread failure with good reason: they cost a lot of money and stain your reputation.

But creators have done a swell job reframing failure.

We don’t have a “history of failed products,” we have a “body of work.” We don’t have a “record of unsuccessful businesses,” we have “skin in the game.”

And since most of the stuff we create is digital, the cost of failure is as close to zero as it’s ever been. No matter what happens today, we have another swing tomorrow.

Entrepreneurs complain, “I haven’t saved enough money”

And they’ll need it to pay for coders, marketers, designers, distributors, customer service, and probably the Business+ Slack subscription to coordinate all the madness.

Meanwhile, platforms are begging creators for an excuse to give them money.

All you need is a laptop and internet access. Maybe a mic and some acoustic foam. Maybe a video camera and a Photoshop license. If you’re a writer, read that Stephen King memoir so you can say you’ve read it, and you’re all set.

Most platforms will host the content for free. Some will only make money when you do. If your content is of any quality, algorithms will put it in front of their audience because guess what — platforms want audiences to stay, and they need your sweet, sweet content to do so.

Entrepreneurs lament, “I don’t have what it takes”

Would you crew in Columbus’ ships, taking massive risks in the slight hope of profit?

I know I wouldn’t. For starters, because my skin is very pale, and if Christopher didn’t pack a single orange, I doubt he’d brought any sunscreen. And I’d detest getting sunburned as I die from scurvy.

But also because entrepreneurs are not a special breed of valiant risk-takers. They are people that simply have the means and resources to afford the high costs of failure.

I don’t have those means — but I can damn sure create something when it’s cheaper, easier, and more convenient than ever.

If you ever thought of turning an idea into an article, a joke, a poem, a book, a video, or a simple tweet — you are a creator. Because that’s our dictionary definition: a person who brings something into existence.

That’s all it takes. So no more excuses.

A little takeaway summary

1. It’s always the right time to be a creator

The risk and cost of failure are as close to zero as they’ve ever been. Don’t wait for the right time; hit publish already.

2. It’s fine if it fails

It doesn’t matter if today’s attempt lands heads or tails. Creators win either way because what counts is that we show up and throw the coin. Go amass that body of work. Go get that skin in the game.

3. You have enough money

Most platforms will host your content for free, and only make money when you do. And if you’re really tight, you can always survive on pasta and cancel your Netflix subscription (hey, I said it was cheap, not easy).

4. You have what it takes

If you fancy bringing abstract ideas into existence, stick it in your business card: you are a creator.

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Loudt Darrow

Loudt Darrow

Informed. Opinionated. I might be wrong but never boring.