The Role of the Creative Entrepreneur

The role of the creative entrepreneur is becoming increasingly important: creative entrepreneurs are one of the greatest edges that the American economy has and plenty of other countries are working hard to catch up.

A creative entrepreneur, in this context, is someone who is building a business based on their creativity. We are talking about both crafters who are selling scarves they’ve knitted and coders who are building a piece of software that they can sell over and over again. Those businesses may sound pretty different, but they both come down to making a living from creativity.

The Creative Edge

If you listen to discussions about the economy, you’ve probably heard complaints about outsourcing, immigrant labor and all sorts of other ways that ‘someone else’ has taken away a job. But those complaints are focused on the wrong ends of the equation.

Yes, certain jobs have a way of always going to wherever the labor is cheapest. But that doesn’t mean that there are no other career paths left. Over the past century, creativity has become more and more important in terms of jobs and businesses — and we’ve still got plenty of road to walk in that direction.

In the early 1900s, the odds that you could find work as a graphic designer, as a writer, as a clothing designer or any other creative pursuit were pretty slim. Sure, there were a few, but compared to now, creative professionals and entrepreneurs were a tiny fraction of the general population. You were far more likely to earn your living as a farmer or factory worker.

Today, though, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were more than 220,000 artists in the country as of 2008 — and that doesn’t include creative professionals like writers, architects, entertainers, software developers and all sorts of other careers that require more creativity than you can shake a stick at. The number is projected to go up, albeit in line with the projections for the entire U.S. job market to expand in general.

I think the numbers aren’t exactly spot on, though: I think that creative professionals will grow in numbers more dramatically than the rest of the labor market. Part of that fact is due to the fact that about 60 percent of artists (and similar numbers for other creative professionals) are self-employed and the number of new businesses is booming, even if the job market isn’t.

Image by Flickr user Amie Fedora