Basic Principles of Creative Entrepreneurs

Woman sitting at her desk making jewelry

 Credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

While making a living from artistic endeavors isn’t new, the concept and growth of the creative entrepreneur definitely is. The Internet, in particular, has created the resources and opportunities for people to tap into their knowledge and innate abilities to make a living. If you’d like to build a business around your talent and join the ranks of the growing number of creative entrepreneurs, here’s what you need to know and do.

What is a Creative Entrepreneur?

At first, you might think a creative entrepreneur is someone who makes a living from their creative endeavors, such as artists or photographers. While these types of entrepreneurs certainly fall into the category, artists are not the only creative entrepreneurs.

A creative entrepreneur is someone who uses their creative or intellectual knowledge and skills to earn a living, usually in a business or as a freelancer. This differs from traditional entrepreneurship that has mainly focused on manufacturing and industrial products.

Who are Some Famous Creative Entrepreneurs?

History, especially in the twentieth century, is littered with people who turned their knowledge and creativity into a thriving business. Many of them started their businesses from home.

Walt Disney

Walt has many great quotes, but one that sums up creative entrepreneurship is, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.” From the movies to the theme parks to the Mickey Mouse and Disney products, all of it came from Walt’s creation of Mickey Mouse on a train trip home from New York after he’d lost rights to his most profitable cartoon. Walt used his imagination and artistry to build an empire that started with a cartoon mouse.

Inventors Including Thomas Edison

All inventors who are able to capitalize on their inventions and ideas can be considered creative entrepreneurs. This includes Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, and even more modern day inventors such as Joy Mangano, who started her empire with a self-wringing mop. While these inventors may have created products that were mass produced, their business was built on ideas.

One of the most famous and prolific of these inventors is Thomas Edison, who invented moving pictures, the electric light and more. He had 1,093 patents for his ideas and inventions in the United States alone.

Steve Jobs

Most people don’t equate artistry and computer programming, but most people aren’t Steve Jobs. Along with Steve Wozniak, Job developed technology that was accessible to everyday people, but he also considered the aesthetics of the devices he created. His creativity was truly unique in his ability to develop products and services people didn’t know they needed, such as the ability to carry thousands of songs on a tiny device or turn a portable phone into a computer and entertainment center.

Ree Drummond

While Ree many not be as famous to the general public as the creative entrepreneurs listed above, anyone who watches The Food Network, shops at Wal-Mart, or loves reading lifestyle blogs will likely know of her, at least by her more famous moniker; The Pioneer Woman. As a wife and mother living on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, Drummond started a blog sharing her photographs and recipes in May 2006. By 2009, her blog was receiving 13 million page views a month. Along with income earned from her blog, Drummond has been able to parlay her creative success into writing a memoir and cookbooks, a cooking show on the Food Network, and line of cookware sold at Wal-Mart.

Less Famous Creative Entrepreneurs

While you may have heard of the creative entrepreneurs listed above, today there are millions of people that haven’t heard of who are turning their talents into thriving businesses. These people are bloggers, Etsy sellers, YouTubers, freelancers and more.

Creative Entrepreneur Home Business Ideas

The hallmark of a creative entrepreneur business is that you tap into your intellectual or creative assets to make money. There are hundreds of different ways to do this depending on your skills, knowledge, and creativity. Here are some ways other entrepreneurs have done it:

The list goes on and on. If you have the knowledge or a skill others will pay you for, you can become a creative entrepreneur. In fact, Fiverr has many people selling skills such as writing or singing a jingle.

How to Become a Creative Entrepreneur

Today, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to turn your knowledge and talents into income. There are many great reasons to become a creative entrepreneur including:

  • Get paid to do something you love
  • Control over your work
  • Flexibility
  • Designing a career that fits your lifestyle goals

With that said, there can be some downsides to becoming a creative entrepreneur, including:

  • Business tasks can feel boring and uncreative
  • Inconsistent income
  • Difficulty in finding a paying market
  • Turning your creative passion into a “job” could ruin the fun of it

Get Started as a Creative Entrepreneur

If you’ve decided you’d like to turn your intellectual and creative assets into income, here’s how to get started:

  1. Figure out what you can offer. Make a list of things you know, love, and do, such as doodling, singing, playing an instrument, etc. Remember, your idea doesn’t need to be artistic to be considered creative. It just needs to tap into your knowledge base or skill set.
  2. Determine how your knowledge or skill can make money. Can you create something to sell? Can you freelance your talent? Can you teach or inform people about it (i.e. blogging, info products, online course, etc)? You may have an idea that has several ways to make money, and down the road, it might be a good idea to develop several incomes around your idea. But starting out, choose one, and focus on that until it’s up and running.
  3. Research your idea to make sure there is a market that will want (and will pay) for what you have to offer. Underwater basket weaving may be your passion, but if there’s no one who wants to buy underwater baskets or learn about underwater basket weaving, it’s not going to be a viable business. In market research, you want to discover if there are people who are ready, willing, and able to buy, as well as determine who these people are (demographics, wants, needs, interests, etc). Note, that even if you’re starting a blog and offering your ideas for free, to make money, people will need to click on ads or affiliate offers, which means they need to want and be able to buy stuff.
  4. Write a business plan. If your idea is viable, it’s time to start planning and implementing your business. That starts with a business plan that outlines what your business will offer, what is unique about your business, how your business will benefit clients/customers, what you’ll charge, your current and forecasted financial situation, your target market and more.
  5. Decide on a business name. Depending on your business, you might use your given name or you can create a business name that describes what you offer.
  6. Create your business structure. Many beginning creative entrepreneurs start out as a sole proprietorship, which is fast and easy. However, if you stick with your business, you should consider forming an LLC, which isn’t that hard or expensive and offers some protection if you get sued.
  7. Get a business license. Check with your city or county government office about required licenses or permits. You should also check the zoning department to make sure it’s okay that you work from home.
  8. Protect your creative assets. If you’re creating something, consider protecting your intellectual property from thieves. There are three types of protection depending on what you create: 1) Patent for inventions, designs or formulas, 2) Copyright for created works such as writing and art, and 3) Trademark usually for a name, logo or tagline.
  9. Set up your distribution system. In your business plan, you should have outlined how you’re going to deliver your products or services. If you make digital planners, will you sell them on Etsy or on your own website? If you’re freelancing your services, will you market them through freelance sites, or through your own website? Whatever you decide, now is the time to set it up.
  10. Market your business. Once you’ve got everything in place, it’s time to let your market know about it. Marketing is one place many creative entrepreneurs struggle, and yet, your creativity and ingenuity can be an asset. The key things to remember in marketing are 1) Who is your target market? 2 )Where can they be found (what do they read online, what sites do the visit, where do they congregate online and off, etc)? and 3) How can you put your information in front of them so that they’ll want to know more about you (articles, ads, videos, social media, etc)?