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Business Is

I spend a lot of time around businesspeople.

Many of these people have a pretty good idea of why they do what they do. “We’re going to change the (something) industry for the better.” “We’re hoping to make the world a better place.” “I saw a problem that needed solving, so I’m solving it.”

All valid reasons to dive into business; the world, industry, or problematic area — hopefully — will be better for their efforts.

I also spend a lot of time with creative folk. Writers, painters, performers.

Many of these people see their work as something spiritual or meaningful beyond the physical. Not religious, exactly, but something that supersedes the tangible world in some way; something necessary in a different way than food or shelter. It shapes their priorities, this need to create.

I’ve found myself in an interesting position as a professional with one foot in the artsy, designerly, writerly, creative space, and the other in the world of entrepreneurship. One grants me immense satisfaction and creative fulfillment, while the other gives me the ability to perpetuate those activities indefinitely: I can spend my days daydreaming and wandering around, thinking about a book I want to write or a poster I want to design. And then I can go do it. Whenever I want.

There does seem to be a wall between the two concepts for many people, however. It’s as though creative work cannot be an economic activity, and the business world cannot be a creative endeavor. I very strongly disagree with that sentiment.

In college I decided to learn how to start and run a business, so I read a lot, asked a lot of questions, and then tried and failed until it worked. And you know what I learned? The parts of my brain that were most active while being entrepreneurial were the same parts I used when designing an album cover or painting a portrait.

Creation is creation, regardless of what you’re creating. Building a business can be a creative act, just as sculpting can be an economic one. There’s nothing wrong with making money from your work, just as there’s nothing wrong with applying your business savvy to a cause you believe in.

To those who are looking for ways to fund their artistic endeavors, I would encourage you to learn about business and view it as just another tool in your studio — another media with which to create.

To those who are looking for ways to become more fulfilled in their work — to produce things they can be proud of — remember that being capable of sustained creation is an incredible skill to possess, and that you can use it for more than just jacking up the numbers in your bank account.

Business is creation, just as sustained creation is a business. Break down the mental barriers you’ve built between the two and enjoy how much more practical and fulfilling both become.