7 Ways Entrepreneurs are Artists

June 16, 2008

Entrepreneurs are artists — their business is the canvas. Here are seven reasons:

Entrepreneurs Create Something Out of Nothing

That’s what entrepreneurs do. Instead of using canvas and paints as resources, entrepreneurs take people and capital and create product and culture. Their is no doubt their fingerprints are all over the output. Jeff Bezos at Amazon is customer focused; Amazon has great service. Steve Jobs is a design tyrant; Apple products beautiful products. See a trend here?

They Know Iteration is a Key to Success

Often businesses start with no clear business model, or wind up backing into a business model they never expected. Look at Google. They were into search, and wound up a lead generation machine connecting businesses with the people searching for their wares. But how did they get there? They started out in one direction and they iterated their way into what they do today. The path may not be clear, but entrepreneurs move on and figure things out along the way — much as a sculptor takes a block and chips away at it bit by bit.

Focus is a Key to Success for Entrepreneurs

How many artists are great in multiple mediums? A musician, an actor and a painter? Yes… there are exceptions to every rule, but mostly artists are only great at one medium. Perhaps the best advice I ever got was, “there’s a four letter word in business… FOCUS.” Entrepreneurs are creative, many have a million ideas a minute and see opportunity everywhere. But without focus and discipline that leads to execution and results, it’s all for naught.

Both Entrepreneurs and Artists Need to Stay True to Their Vision

Successful artists stay true to their vision. There are lots of people who want to tell you how to do something, but what they know is their way — not your way. Your way matters. Artists learn the principles of great design from those that have come before them — often by imitation — just like entrepreneurs learn business management concepts and financial metrics. At the end of the day, both artists and entrepreneurs must take these best practices — they’re only a tool set — and use them to realize their vision.

Remember: There’s No One Way to Do It

Speaking of vision, your perspective is everything — there is no one way to get where you are heading and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Sure there are doubts, but you must overcome them — like an artist — to succeed.

Starving Artists / Starving Entrepreneurs

Well, you can see where this one is going. Ever heard of an entrepreneur living out of their parent’s basement, putting all their expenses on their credit card? Might have happened once or twice before…

It’s Essential to Develop a Style of Your Own

Ever hear a song for the first time and know the artist? Ever see a painting and know the painter? Ever notice a change in the feel of working with a business? Improved service, worsening service? A product that gets better over time, perhaps worse? Over time an artist develops a style that becomes her own. The same is true of entrepreneurs and whether you know it or not, you can feel the difference.

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.