Your creativity – a hobby, a job, or a business?

It’s natural for creative people to want to make a career out of their creativity. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that creativity automatically qualifies a person for a job – or guarantees they can build a successful business from their creativity.

For those about to embark on a journey into creative enterprise, the first question must be: Why do it? Why build a business around your creative passion? The obvious answer is to express your creativity and make a good living at the same time. But is it that simple? This book outlines a range of challenges affecting businesses and offers some pointers towards solutions. There are many hurdles to cross, compromises to be made and tough decisions to make along the way. So first it’s worth taking stock of what’s at the heart of your creative enterprise and why you do it – or plan to do it.

Though the intention is to allow your creativity ‘free rein’ by doing it full-time as a business, some people complain that now they are in business they have less time for their creative passion, not more. Others have considered changing to a conventional job to earn money so as to be able to indulge their creativity in a pure way, free of the constraints and pressures of business.

Perhaps it is better to separate earning a living on the one hand and creativity on the other so as to do each one to the utmost, rather than doing neither one properly. Is there a risk that your creativity will be curbed by business? You may consider this suggestion inappropriate in a book like this, but it is better to deal with this issue frankly now if it is a matter you are facing – or likely to face in the future.

Yes, there is a risk of compromising your creativity with business – and compromising your business profitability by indulging your creativity – if you don’t get the ‘business formula’ right. For example a financial formula that works for a hobby usually does not work for a business when higher prices need to be charged to cover the real costs of labour and other expenses.

Three options are worth considering:

  1. Hobby. Keep your creative passion free from the constraints of a job or a business and pursue it purely as a hobby. This means you can indulge your passion in its purest form. But you will need to earn a living elsewhere.
  2. A Job. Sell your creative labour to an employer. This means earning a living from your creativity but it will have to be channelled towards the needs of the employer and their business needs. Also, the intellectual property created from your ideas will probably belong to your employer, not you.
  3. A Business. Use your creativity to set up your own enterprise. This will mean getting involved in all kinds of business matters in addition to your creative endeavours. It also means using your creativity to solve your customers’ problems and cater to their needs.