Business Lessons From An Artist Turned Entrepreneur: In the beginning stages of entrepreneurship, it can be easy to get lost in the creative process of product development.
But something entrepreneurs often forget is that the majority of business is really about delegating and managing your teams. Knowing how to move past the solely creative mindset, into the business leader’s mindset is an incredible advantage for an entrepreneur at any stage of their career.
In reality, only a small percentage of building a business has to do with creativity: the vast majority of it looks like hard work and knowing how to manage your teams well.
It’s All About People Management
One rising leader has a lot to say about this issue. Amanda Gunawan of OWIU Design has learned a lot in her career about effectively managing teams and businesses when you naturally have a more artistic mindset. She’s a firm believer in exploring subjects outside of her craft to become a better leader.
One of the subjects Gunawan finds most useful is behavioral psychology. It’s helped her better understand people’s innate motivations, which she believes helps her significantly in people management.
“A big part of running your own firm, even in design, is that you have to be an outstanding people manager. I studied behavioral psych to better understand how different people think, and how they think differently from me,” she says. “Conflicts are bound to happen. How can I help my team better understand each other and communicate well? It’s helpful for me to be able to shift my thinking to match theirs to resolve conflict and accurately express our ideas.”
Gunawan adds that this doesn’t just apply to managing teams–it applies to managing clients as well. Making excellent people management a central part of your business strategy will only benefit you long-term.
Knowing When to Let Go
As any entrepreneur knows, starting a business means wearing multiple hats. You may be the founder, but it’s critical to remember that you’re still part of a team working toward a common goal.
As part of that team, you’ve got to be able to let go of doing certain tasks if they’re getting in the way of you running the business—even if they’re the ones you love most. This can be especially hard for founders who got their start as creatives, as often, they find themselves with less and less time to create.
Gunawan is experiencing this right now. Her most important role right now is as a company leader, not a designer. “Starting a year and a half ago, I was less able to sit down at the computer and design,” she says. “It wasn’t scalable with the growth of my business. It’s a sacrifice because I wanted to keep designing, but I had to realize that while a lot of people in my office can design, not everyone can do my job. It’s about training other people to be good and knowing when to delegate.”
Knowing how to move from the mindset of a single creative person to a CEO and people manager is challenging, but it’s the only way to grow a successful business. The good news: it’s a skill that can be learned.