A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog paralleling the way an entrepreneur builds a business to the way a designer builds a new product. Writing that blog put me into an artistic mindset, so today I am going to talk about how developing a business is a lot like an artist painting a picture.

An artist starts by seeing a picture, either in their mind or somewhere in the external world, which inspires them. They take a mental snapshot and formulate a way to it turn in into a masterpiece using their creative talents.

An entrepreneur observes a pain in the market and develops a vision. From that vision, they derive a plan to turn it into the next big thing using their business savvy and acumen.

Both have that big picture thinking at the beginning that provides direction and purpose for their efforts. Once that big picture thinking is done though, the real fun begins. For the artist, it begins with the outline or the plan – some light sketching or painting to outline the shapes that will define the picture. For the entrepreneur, this is the business plan, which becomes the blueprint for how the business will be run.

Once the plan is in place, the paint meets the paper. The artist must choose what brushstrokes to put where and what colors to use. The entrepreneur decides how to use its resources; where to spend the money, what tasks to do, whom to hire.

In the beginning, the initial brushstrokes are hard to correlate to the big picture. A series of small strokes gradually formulate small objects on the canvas. The artist is constantly looking and thinking – they observe the piece of art in a different light, or rotate the picture to see it at a different angle. It is all part of a process riddled with mistakes, ups and downs, and reflection. In the end the objective is fulfilled and the picture is painted, it just might not have been exactly as it was originally envisioned.

The entrepreneur goes through, or should go through, the same process. The series of small, but seemingly endless tasks that fill an entrepreneur’s day gradually blend together to create a business that’s worth something. If an artist started painting off the canvas onto the walls, things would get messy pretty quickly. In the same way, a business caught thinking myopically for a long period of time can find themselves in some tough times.

This is where the red pen comes into play. The original business plan typically becomes obsolete in many ways almost as soon as the business starts, as changes in the internal and external environment affect the original plan; however, the big picture thinking that the business plan helps solidify is constantly required. The entrepreneur needs to look at the picture they are painting and take out a nice, red pen to make the changes that need to be made.

Love, Lumos.


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Interesting post. I totally agree with taking an artistic approach to the pain. It’s important to be flexible and improvise when you need to and while the plan doesn’t help with this. Of course for any masterpiece a plan has to be in place to support the expression/execution of the “many brush strokes”,

Thanks for writing! and it was good to meet Joel at the seminar last night.

Scott Lewis May 5

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