Art of entrepreneurship

I obtain the following article from UCT graduate school of business where I had the opportunity in my earlier days (1987) to hone my skills in Marketing. UCT I consider as one of my Mater Almas, if it was ever possible to talk of several Mater Almas.

I found the content of Elaine Rumboll’s writings very fitting as far as my career is concerned. As much as you may think that entrepreneurship as a science, I had always considered my entrepreneurship skills as an art. Psychological profiling I had undergone pictured me as a right brain thinker and placed me in the box of a creative artist. Have I been the business savvy artist?

Early in my business life career, I was lucky to have had a serious assessment of my psychological traits and preferences determined. I knew where were my strong hands and perhaps more importantly where were located  my weaker hands. I had learned to bank on my strengths whilst acknowledging on my weaknesses and delegating some of my unressourceful  duties and tasks. Later as I climbed the ladder of the corporate world, I made sure that I was supported by a team that made up for my deficiencies. I have always been a wholesome person or if you prefer, a big picture person, performing tiny detail tasks pumped up my energy. I make sure that my direct assistants were detailed and sequential oriented persons. Susan, a thorough and precise operator was always at hand. Cynthia another orderly organiser assisted me for years. I thus manage with a two brains tandem: my rightful own right brain and the left brains of my associates.

I also learnt early that success comes faster with creativity. I spend a fair amount of my time in observing changes that was operating on the business scene and anticipate speedily ahead of the trend. I often with a bout of humour asked: Whilst may be you know what you know, how do you know what you do not know? The answer came in often by asking the question: what if? I have to bless my parents, my educators for having instilled in me this craving for creativity. These creativity skills were later improved by the NLP training I had the opportunity to follow.

I would recommend to you to read: Enjoy your inner artist- Improving your Creativity with NLP by Luis Jorge Gonzalez.

The art of entrepreneurship

by Elaine Rumboll: Executive Education Director at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.

It’s often been said that there is an art to doing business, but conversely not much has been raised on the business of being an artist. That’s not surprising given that the words “artist” and “profit” have never traditionally been associated with each other. In the 21st century, however, things are beginning to change.

There is an increasing attention on the concept of artists as entrepreneurs emerging globally – artists are becoming more business savvy and finding new ways of sustaining their artistic livelihood. Artists of all kinds are applying their creativity in new ways as businesspeople, and proving that it is possible to leave the “starving artist” notion behind in favour of the “business savvy artist”.

In the US, the New York Times recently picked up on this trend, and in a feature presented some successful artists changing the game. According to Elliot McGucken who teaches the course Artist Entrepreneurs at the University of North Carolina, the advancement of business skills “rests on the principle that those who create art should have the skills to own it, profit from it and protect it”.

“It’s about how to make your passion your profession, your avocation your vocation, and to make this long-term sustainable,” he says.

This business imperative to the world of the arts has become all the more important in the past year, as the recession has not left the art world unscathed – while most of the media attention is on corporates, the plight of the arts is an important issue that needs addressing as well.

A study conducted by Arts & Business in the UK, for example, found that many UK arts organisations are already feeling the pinch of a shrinking economy. Released in April, the survey, titled Market Trends 2009, found that the majority (63%) of respondents are “experiencing a substantial decrease in business investment”.

In this tougher market context, the need for artists to become more self-sustaining and business savvy, and to find new ways of sustaining their artistic livelihood in the long-term, has become much more critical. It’s a realisation that has begun to permeate many individual artists and educational institutions.

Pioneering the way for artists as fully-fledged entrepreneurs are several leading business schools and universities. In many of these business schools, business and the arts are no longer mutually exclusive, but in fact mutually dependent disciplines that need each other to survive – and thrive.

With this in mind, the University of Michigan recently announced plans to offer a dual programme that will combine a Master of Fine Arts and Master of Business Administration degree later this year. New York University and Yale University already offer similar joint programmes.

This trend of two worlds merging, from a business point of view, also highlights a growing realisation that success in the 21st Century will depend on creativity more than ever before. This increasing link between business and the arts was massively popularised by author Dan Pink and his bestseller A Whole New Mind, in which he argues that people with right and left brain skills, or creative and analytical abilities, will be very much in demand in the years ahead.

As businesses globally seek to now be more creative and innovative in their search for increased market share, creative people are in turn learning that it is possible to make a sustainable living out of their talents with a little business savvy.

While there is a lot of untapped potential for success for South African artists of all kinds – painters, designers, writers, photographers and performance artists – many are not yet astute enough in business matters to move into the entrepreneurial realm with confidence. New innovative courses will help to close this gap.

Here in South Africa, the UCT Graduate School of Business’ Executive Education unit has for the past two years offered a Business Acumen for Artists programme to help local artists step into the world of business by teaching subjects like marketing, negotiation and intellectual property, as well as financial skills and presentation techniques – the course has been described as a revelation by many artists who have attended.

Simon Taylor of Periphery Films, who completed last year’s Business Acumen for Artists, described the course as a profound learning opportunity and a chance to connect with other artists experiencing similar difficulties.

“I went into the programme feeling like I was on an island. I felt really lonely as a creative entrepreneur, so to connect with people feeling the same way was amazing. It was almost like a support group and the experience was on the level of mind and heart adjustment, it was not just about learning new things.”

Tracy-Lee Scully, a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and writer, also from the 2008 programme, agreed.

‘I went to the course expecting to learn some basic business skills, but I finished having learned so much more than that. I learned the value of my work and to let go of my creative insecurities. I gained a whole new perspective on my reality – largely as to what was holding me back from following my dreams to succeed as an artist in a commercial world.”

As these statements demonstrate, artists need to find inventive ways to market themselves and price their goods competitively, without underselling their services and products. This is where marketing know-how and negotiation skills, as well as a good grounding in financial management, for example, could make all the difference.


#1 steve cunningham on 06.30.09 at 8:06 am

I agree with you – there truly is a world of possibilities for creative people in this “whole new world” Dan talks about in “A Whole New Mind”. A little L-directed thinking wouldn’t hurt either.

#2 Agni on 07.01.09 at 4:27 pm

Joseph, could you provide us with actual scientific studies which would support the left-right brain assertions of those exploiting them in the realm of education and management.

As far as I know and it can be asserted from actual scientific research, no such conclusions have been made.
Although I have to agree such theories have been developed and are being exploited by popular psychologists with apparent commercial purposes.
The increased used of psycho-mambo-jumbo-metric tests is another evidence of the increasing prolifferation of psychology in the field of Management.

What you describe in your previous blog on NLP training… it seems to have more to do with acquiring social and communication skills by adults who for one reason or another seem to have missed that in their upbringing during their formative and adolescence years.

Management and Business, whether science or art, is not about helping people with their societal, psychological and cognitive inadequacies.
We should not debase ourself to the general level of dumbing down.

#3 joseph on 07.01.09 at 10:17 pm

I cannot provide scientific studies to support the left-right brain assertions as I have not got in the pain of researching for it.
From the NLP perspective, I know that for a decade or so the ‘scientific’pyschologists made all what they could to bounce off the NLP proposers as they did not obey scientific discipline. NLP until recently was not taken seriosly by the academia. Universties were protecting their turf.
Even Einstein could not prove the relativity theory scientificly.Yet his studies caused leap frog advancement in science.
Has the Quantum theory been scientifical proved?

I believe that the latest brain studies have now established that the brain activities occurs in the areas that were early defined. NLP has taken a stance: we do not need to know how it works to apply a remedy, as long that it works we shall use it. The scientific method cannot accept that.

I invite you to read Roger Sperry the nobel prize winner on his experiment of the brain.

#4 Agni on 07.01.09 at 11:49 pm

Roger Sperry’s research was not in any way related to any psychological aspect of individual. It never made claims regarding any type of “personality” traits attributed to either left or right brain hemispheres.
He was studying relations between brain function and physical reactions. But I far as I’m aware physical reactions are not part of psychologists’ “personality” traits.
People suffering of Epileptics don’t loose their “personality”, their brain looses control over their physical functions in varying degrees. Hence they experience difficulty performing physical tasks involving coordination.
People with Alzheimer on the other hand don’t loose their “personality”, they just loose the ability to use their brain altogether without loosing physical functions controlled by the brain.

Indeed no serious business or management educational establishment accepts the claims as to the existence of “personalities”.
In business we make decisions and take actions in function of the goals we seek to achieve. KPI’s are based on achieving those goals, not on how people pursue our personality to be performing.
Unless of course you claim that your performance is just as predetermined and predictable as your “personality” at any time and in any situation.
Indeed “personality” gets use a lot nowadays in avoiding responsability for once actions by trying to deny/make away with the relationship between cause and effect!

#5 joseph on 07.02.09 at 8:36 pm

from wikipedia
Pseudoscientific exaggeration of the research

Hines (1987) states that the research on brain lateralization is valid as a research program, though commercial promoters have applied it to promote subjects and products far out of the implications of the research. For example, the implications of the research have no bearing on psychological interventions such as EMDR and neurolinguistic programming (Drenth 2003:53), brain training equipment, or management training. One explanation for why research on lateralization is so prone to exaggeration and false application is that the left-right brain dichotomy is an easy-to-understand notion, which can be oversimplified and misused for promotion in the guise of science.[18] The research on lateralization of brain functioning is ongoing, and its implications are always tightly delineated, whereas the pseudoscientific applications are exaggerated, and applied to an extremely wide range of situations.

#6 Elaine Rumboll on 07.15.09 at 5:29 pm

Thanks for the enlightening post. Glad you also enjoyed the article. I find that the mantra of Going Slow to go Fast has been invaluable for me in terms of ramping up my thinking and making me aware of potential trends on the horizon.

#7 joseph on 07.16.09 at 10:53 pm

Only today, during a session I had with Christian Monjou we discussed at length on the issue of managing the instant nature of today. Instant gratification is the word of the day. Chats ans instant messaging…shallow talks. The question is not either or…but Instant gratification with deep thinking: the reconciliation of apparent dilemmas

#8 Agni on 07.17.09 at 8:47 pm

George W. Bush went to see the doctor to get the results of his brain scan. The doctor said: “Mr. President, I have some bad news for you. First, we have discovered that your brain has two sides: the left side and the right side.”

Bush interrupted, “Well, that’s normal, isn’t it? I thought everybody had two sides to their brain?”

The doctor replied, “That’s true, Mr. President. But your brain is very unusual because on the left side there isn’t anything right, while on the right side there isn’t anything left.”

#9 joseph on 07.18.09 at 7:38 pm

Good joke another one on George W Bush. As with Irish for the Brits, Polish for the Yankees and Belgian for the French such jokes are recycled to suit the audience.
Right you are:you will not be left.
Thanks all the same.

Leave a Comment