Some people regard creativity and business as being like oil and water – they just don’t mix. They think it’s a question of choosing between creativity or business. I disagree.
At a conference I attended on the theme of creativity, some people understood creativity to mean ‘art’, done by artists of one kind or another – all of them wearing Tshirts. These artists realised that sometimes (unfortunately) they had to speak with beings from a parallel universe, ie the business world – people in uits who think differently and speak in strange tongues – and inevitably don’t understand them. I reject the idea that business and creativity are incompatible opposites. At that conference I pointed out that I am both a published poet 5 and an MBA,6 which perhaps unsettled a few people for a moment. I went on to say that my best creativity is not my poetry but my inventiveness within the business world, adapting ideas and methods to new circumstances across the boundaries of industries, sectors and cultures internationally. Other delegates confirmed that they had seen far more creativity in engineering firms than in some advertising agencies. Creativity is not the monopoly of the ‘artist’: it is much wider than that and can be found in education, science and elsewhere. Creativity is in and around us all.
The most exciting creativity, I believe, is the alchemy of blending apparent opposites, what we often call ‘art’ and ‘science’, recognising that they are not opposites at all, from which we have to choose either/or in a binary fashion, but the yin and yang of a whole. This book is about bringing together creativity and business as allies. It’s about combining the best ideas of both ‘Tshirts’ and ‘Suits’ in the business of creativity, turning creative talent into income streams.
Successful creative entrepreneurs embrace both creativity and business. Perhaps they don’t use business jargon and maybe profit is not their primary aim. Sometimes they will proceed on a hunch, or put their success down to good luck, but there is nevertheless a method behind their apparent madness, whether they recognise it or not.
The art of business is to select from a palette of infinite choices to draw together a specific product or service, with specific customers’ needs, in a way that adds up financially. The resulting picture is a unique business formula for a successful enterprise.
Naturally, creative businesses tend to have a high concentration of new ideas in their product or service. Successful organisations of all kinds combine all the essential business elements creatively. Successful creative enterprises need to have a creative product or service; they also need to invent a special and workable formula which combines all the essential ingredients of business.