Creative Business Feasibility asks the question: It’s Creative – but is it a Business? Creative business feasibility combines creative passion – and a business focus.
A creative passion is at the heart of every creative or cultural enterprise, and many entrepreneurs have developed their creative talents into successful businesses in the visual arts, music, design, performing arts, crafts and other fields.
Creativity is necessary, but not sufficient. It’s fatal to assume that creativity alone deserves or guarantees business success.
For many creative people, their creative passion is not part of an enterprise at all – and they don’t want it to be. This means that they can allow their creativity to flourish without the constraints of business or the requirements of the marketplace. They have the freedom to create without having also to calculate prices, promote their work, deal with customers or keep an eye on the accounts. This option is valid in artistic terms, but is not a business option.
As soon as the creative person decides to make money from their creativity and enter the marketplace, a range of business factors immediately come into play, including pricing, marketing, financial management, organisational structure, intellectual property and other matters.
Creativity is one element of a business formula which also involves key decisions about which particular creative goods or services to provide – and which particular customers to serve. For example, Rob Kinsey (pictured below) is an artist with a passion – and a focus.
Being creative in a totally non-commercial way is fine – as is being a creative businessperson. However it’s possible to ‘fall between two stools’, playing neither role well. Often people find themselves in this position by selling to friends and family. This is understandable, but in commercial terms can be fatal. Why? Because this approach is usually combined with setting prices simply to cover direct costs of materials but not including their labour, because at this early stage they still regard it more as a hobby and perhaps also have a day-job. Business overheads are ignored because they use their back bedroom, the family computer and their personal mobile phone. At first, it seems to be working, but in reality this enterprise is heavily subsidised by the individual concerned. This is why prices are low and customers are happy – at first. The pricing structure is appropriate for the economics of a ‘paying hobby’ but totally unworkable for a real business. Prices often need to be multiplied five times or more to make the business work and pay the entrepreneur a living wage. Increasing prices like this is a great way to fall out with family and friends who have been early customers! All of a sudden they don’t want to buy any more. The creative entrepreneur then needs to find a new set of customers who will pay the necessary prices. This amounts to little short of destroying and rebuilding the enterprise, at least in terms of its economic structure. Even worse, it often reveals that their endeavour is not feasible at all in commercial terms. Prices are now as high, or higher, than established competitors who have better products and services. It’s just not going to work.
So it’s a matter of ‘going back to the drawing board’ and using a technique I have developed called ‘Designing Your Creative Business’. Starting with a blank sheet of paper, the creative person has lots of options. In fact there is a problem of too much choice. We need to generate lots of options, in an imaginative way, but then have a method to identify those possibilities that are feasible. In other words, to find the ‘unique business formula’ which will achieve your own version of Success. This is discussed further in the chapter on Business Feasibility in my book ‘T-Shirts and Suits: A Guide to the Business of Creativity’.
To find the most feasible business formula, each creative entrepreneur will need to answer two questions:
1. Out of all the creative goods or services I could provide, which one(s) do I excel at, in relation to competitors out there?
2. Out of all the potential customers I could serve, which are the ones that really want the things I excel at – and are prepared to pay well for them?
More information about finding your feasible business formula is in the article ‘Create Your Own Business Formula’.
The most successful creative entrepreneurs have built feasible businesses based on their creative passion – but also combined with competitive advantage and the right customers.
In conclusion, you have to build your enterprise around your unique strengths to make the creative contribution only you can make. As artist and businesswoman Lynne Hollingsworth emphasises: “Your difference is your strength”.
Find that creative talent at which you excel in relation to competitors – and then find the customers who value your unique creativity.
Creative business feasibility
David Parrish inspires and empowers creative entrepreneurs world-wide as an international creative industries speaker, consultant, trainer and author.
Business Adviser – Creative and Digital Industries
Creative and digital businesses grow with the help of David’s expertise in creative entrepreneurship. He shares his expertise through his speeches, training workshops, coaching and books on business growth.
He helps clients by drawing on his own direct experience as an entrepreneur as well as his work helping hundreds of creative, digital, cultural and arts businesses around the world. His direct experience is backed up by academic qualifications and professional accreditations in business strategy, marketing and leadership. He is a Chartered Institute of Marketing ‘Chartered Marketer’. David has an MBA (with distinction). In addition, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (FInstLM). He is also honoured to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
David is a UK expert and international creative industries speaker. He has helped hundreds of businesses in more than 50 countries to achieve greater success on their own terms. This is achieved by using smart business development techniques that fit with their creativity, ambitions and values. His creative industries consulting focuses on the needs of creative industries businesses, cultural enterprises and arts organisations.
Successful creative enterprises integrate creativity and business. David’s T-Shirts and Suits® approach helps creative people (‘T-Shirts’) use smart business thinking (‘Suits’). His entertaining and inspirational speeches illustrate ways in which businesses can use creative business models and powerful business techniques to achieve greater success. His creative industries consulting with individual businesses guides them to success by combining their creative passion, strengths and goals with a winning business strategy tailored to their own needs, values and circumstances.
Creative Business Books, eBooks and Audiobooks
David has written two books and several other publications especially for creative businesses. He brings his own experience of setting up and growing businesses in the creative and cultural industries. David is actively involved in the creative and digital industries as a company director and management consultant. He also shares the learning he has gained from working with hundreds of successful creative enterprises around the world. His books are available in paperback, eBook and Audiobook formats. They have been translated into several languages and published in various countries in several continents.
What they say about David Parrish…
Here are a few examples of what people say about David Parrish. His clients worldwide say how they have benefited from David’s creative industries keynote speeches. They also recommend his business advice, training, presentations, lectures and books:
“It was a pleasure to invite David to give the keynote speech at the Third International Creative Industries Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. His speech about ‘Creative Business in the Digital Economy’ was enlightening. It was ideal for our audience that included startups, government officials, investors and agencies from Serbia and other countries. David’s speech was also broadcast on TV to reach an even wider audience. We were delighted with the positive impact that David made on the creative industries here in Serbia.”
Tatjana Kalezic. Creative Industries Cluster of Vojvodina KVIK.
“The choice to work with David was definitely the right one. In less than two days time we had crafted a cohesive short term and long term strategy that provides for desired growth, protects our IP, enables investment, and allows us to retain creative control of our technology. David’s ability to listen to your situation, to understand it, and then determine a course of action based on your specific needs and goals is rare and a makes David a joy to work with.”
– Aric Wanveer. Zero Gravity Creations LLC, Baltimore, USA
“David Parrish was a special guest of Creative Industries Summer School held in Moscow. Creative entrepreneurs from all over Russia said that David’s presentation was very inspiring, entertaining and very useful for them. His presentation “Creativity and Business: How to Succeed as a Creative Entrepreneur” was amazing and I am sure it will help develop creative entrepreneurship in Russia. David is a very bright and powerful expert.”
– Olga Kizina. Director. Creative Industries Agency. Moscow. Russia.
“Workshop participants were very impressed and inspired by David’s speech and book because he avoided using jargon, gave clear illustrations to describe what creative business is about and explained the general principles of running a creative business. He talked about some important issues, such as intellectual property, business formulas, knowing your competitors, knowing your market, and being prepared to say No.”
– HsinYi Ku. British Council, Taiwan
“David writes about creative business better than anyone I know.”
– Wayne Morris. The Creative Edge. New Zealand.
“David Parrish is a very inspirational speaker. The way he illustrates his points is excellent. He makes you laugh and instantly you start to think about your own ideas and projects.”
– Eli Folkestadaas. British-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce. Oslo, Norway.
Read more testimonials about David’s work as an international creative industries speaker, consultant, adviser, trainer and author of two books, other publications and many articles.
David’s Background, Experience and Expertise
Dave Parrish has been directly involved in the creative economy and cultural economy for more than 20 years, as an entrepreneur, manager, company director, management consultant, business adviser, coach, mentor, trainer, writer, and international creative industries speaker. For an insight into his personal background, business experience, values and his own perspective on creativity and business, read his story.