Are You Ready to Become a Design Entrepreneur?

Used by permission,® 2014 The LEGO Group Used by permission,® 2014 The LEGO Group

A closer look at the qualities of a successful design entrepreneur

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you will discover is yourself. – Alan Alda

Many designers and creative workers embarked on design studies or design as a vocation for the aesthetic aspects of it; more than anything, designers like to play with form, colors, and texture. They also enjoy the creative freedom, defined by individual expression and not having to do with everyday monetary affairs.

Used by permission,® 2014 The LEGO Group
Used by permission ® 2014 The LEGO Group

Times are changing. More and more advanced economies are rapidly shifting from manufacture-based to idea- based. It doesn’t mean tangible products are any less needed than before. More sophisticated products made from new and advanced materials coupled with improved functionality and style are always in demand. Brilliant design products and services are a combination of daring new ideas, clever concepts, innovative systems, and sensible executions. Ideas and knowledge are only of value if they are turned into successful products and services.

The legendary shoe designer turned Pop artist Andy Warhol famously said, «Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.» Even the seemingly unbusinessman-like conceptual artist John Baldessari quipped that “Every artist should be a mini-entrepreneur.”  Now, the most pricey British Young Artist Damien Hirst and a handful of fellow artists are managing their own business of producing and selling art, without the intervention of galleries and auction houses.

The same goes with most other creative fields, and design is no exception. Creative pursuit in ernest can only be supported and sustained through the business success of entrepreneurial activities. Design traditionally has been an entrepreneurial vocation since its beginnings in the early 20th century. Design has an entrepreneurial spirit and a hands-on attitude.

On the path of design entrepreneurship to creativity and innovation, there often lies rough patches and obstacles, too. Take one of the 20th century innovative design James Dyson. His most well-known Dyson vacuum cleaner had to wait 15 years from creation to actual production. Despite its apparent advange and much improved features – most prominently elimination of dustbags and smart application of G-Force cyclone technology – was faced with resistance from major multinational electronics manufacturers, until Japan issued a patent license and gave him the change to produce his concept in 1993. Until Dyson vacuum cleaners to become one of the icon of 20th century industrial design for its innovative technology and a successful business story, James Dyson tirelessly dedicated himself to hard-working, perseverance, and determination.

Merging of design consciousness and business acumen can be an influential force for socio-cultural change as well. New form has the power to stimulates new ways of thinking, new attitudes, and, indeed, new ways of life. Take all too well-known hero of design innovation – Steve Jobs of Apple. Since nearly 40 years being a visionary of Graphic User Interface (GUI) and mouse-controlled personal desktop computers, which we now take for granted, Jobs is an outstanding champion of good design integrated into technology that sets new trend in the way people see, live, and create.

Combining creative talent and business savvy is essential to be able to continue creative efforts. The success of a good design is a way to gain social recognition and cultural influence. Creativity is the goal and the business is the means. Here are some of the qualities often found in creative entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are inherently creative people. Turn the table around: creative people have inherent abilities to be entrepreneurial, too. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos (of, Steve Jobs (Apple), James Dyson (Dyson vacuum cleaners), and Richard Branson (Virgin) are all iconic examples who combined surprisingly novel ideas, knowledge, and market opportunities based on creative thinking.

Entrepreneurship means taking risks. Risks often result in great returns in terms of fame, social recognition, and wealth. But it only happens when risks are carefully studied, assessed, and calculated. A great entrepreneur is an individual with a passionate heart and a cold mind.

Born entrepreneurs are unstoppable starters but they are also tenacious endurers who rarely quit once they see the potential of success. As the Roman philosopher Seneca said, “There is no great genius without some touch of madness.” In fact, their energy is so great that they become living inspirations and models for others to follow.

Entrepreneurs create and vitalize economy. They thrive on the idea of self-reliance and high achievements. That is why entrepreneurship is good for the promoting economy by inspiring new work force, creating jobs, and propelling societies for advancement.