challenges when building a creative business

In the Creativist Club at the moment, we’re discussing the three main challenges for creative entrepreneurs, which can  be summarized in three words: time, money and focus.

In the UK, where I live, most start-up enterprises fail and are out of business within a year. Of those that succeed, a third of their owners take home less than £10,000 a year. Only 2% of entrepreneurs in one of the most developed countries in the world earn more than £150,000.

It’s the same story around the world. Even the US, the home of entrepreneurship, what they call “non-employer businesses” average revenues of $44,000. That’s before costs or overheads are deducted.

Something is clearly wrong.

Traditional wisdom has it that the pursuit of passion over profit is a bad idea. Most businesses outsource the manufacturing, the making, the content of the business. The most effective businesses are those that concentrate most of their attention working on profit.

One of the loudest voices on this in the entrepreneur space is Chris Ducker, who sees passion not a strength but a stress.

“Passion makes a terrible CFO, ladies and gents. Passion will tell you to start your business without a clear idea of who you’re serving or how you’ll make money. Passion will tell you to work for free or for ‘exposure’. Passion will tell you that loving what you do is the best reason to start a business.

“Passion will also up and LEAVE the second things get challenging. And then what? (Because business gets really challenging, really quick!)

“I’m sure you see it now. Passion is basically your inner five-year-old demanding a corner office and free reign of the accounts. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve parented a five year old (three times now!). Lovely people, but I wouldn’t hire one!

And neither should you.”

This leaves a creativepreneur with nowhere to go.

For a creativepreneur, the passion is the point. Whether you are an author who wants to write books, an artist who wants to make art, a coach who wants to be down in the trenches with the client, a vegan chef who wants the world to go plant-based: you’re running this business so you can make a living further your ideas and influence.

Yet Chris, and others who put profit before passion are right in saying that in order to succeed, and make that living, you have to make something people want to buy.

What if they don’t want to buy what you most want to make?

We can get very lost in this.

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