7 Lessons Tech Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Artists

November 5, 2015

4:00 pm

If you’re a tech entrepreneur, it’s worthwhile to surround yourself with people who stretch, teach, and motivate you. It’s too easy to get in a tech bubble of sorts and spend time only with like-minded people, so it’s critical to break free and learn from people with unique backgrounds. It might seem like an unlikely pairing, but tech entrepreneurs should especially spend more time with artists; you’ll be surprised to discover that there’s many things to learn from artists. Sure, there are startups that have made art their focus, but what I’m talking about here is the general principles from artists that tech entrepreneurs can apply to their own lives and their own business strategies.

1. Importance of Experimenting

Artists are essentially expert experimenters with lots of creativity and talent. If artists simply used their creativity and talent to produce the same pieces of art as their predecessors and peers, would it even be considered art?

At some point or other, every artist goes out on a limb and tries new styles, mediums, and strategies. Entrepreneurs need to become expert experimenters, too. Only then can you create revolutionary ideas that are unique and valuable.

Though it can be smart to stick with something that works, don’t settle there forever. Experiment constantly and never stop investing in steady innovation.

2. Diversification of Revenue

Two revenue streams are usually better than one. Artists have known this for years.

Take musicians, for example. They rarely rely on a single source of income. They may sell physical CDs, earn royalties from online music streaming services, sell tickets to live shows, and work with movie directors to develop soundtracks for new films. Every stream adds stability to a musician’s career. This is a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs. While you may be happy with the income you earn from one venture, it’s good to diversify.

Should something happen to your primary source of income, you want something to fall back on. It’s certainly not easy to add new revenue streams, but thanks to the power of the Internet it’s realistic and possible.

3. Keys to Success

Albert Scaglione is a successful artist and businessman, which makes him a rarity. Not only did Scaglione learn first-hand how to frame and prepare art for presentation, he is the CEO of Park West Gallery, the largest art dealer in the world. This makes him the perfect person to explain what entrepreneurs can learn from artists. Here’s what he says are the three keys: hard work, passion, and dedication.

“They are going to take you a long way to achieving your goals,” Scaglione tells entrepreneurs. “You have to be passionate and be willing to work your butt off.”

4. Doing What You Love

While the average professional artist may not be rich, there’s plenty to be said for doing what they love. When artists start out, they typically do just what they love. With this passion as a foundation, they can cultivate their talent and love of art and into a thriving brand.

As an entrepreneur, you can benefit from a similar approach. If you start out doing what you love and eventually mold that into a business, you’re apt to be more successful in the long run. When entrepreneurs get caught up in a business they don’t believe in or care about, they typically experience failure.

5. Reliance on Intuition

There’s something to be said for watching the market and following new trends, but sometimes it all comes down to intuition. Artists are great at relying on their intuition when creating new pieces.

Entrepreneurs also need to rely on their gut instincts when developing new products and services. A healthy mixture of intuition and skill is required to be successful.

6. Being Comfortable with Ambiguity

Those of us who aren’t artists often look at modern art and think to ourselves, “That’s really strange and different. What does it mean?” Well, don’t be fooled.

Artists often think the same thing. They don’t always understand their own art or have an answer about the meaning behind a particular piece. They’re simply comfortable with ambiguity.

You must learn to be comfortable with ambiguity as an entrepreneur as well. Business doesn’t always have to make sense and you can’t expect to find clear answers to every question.

The ability to be calm in the midst of uncertainty is an excellent trait to hone.

7. Customers Don’t Know What They Want

Steve Jobs famously said, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” In other words, it’s sometimes up to you to create something, even if customers haven’t voiced a need.

Artists tend to be good at this. Some artists will accept commissioned projects, but many create pieces and then wait for the right customer.

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Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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