Business fascinates me the same way architecture does: I want to see how various resources come together to create something new. It’s a combination of structure, efficiency, and beauty—very much like writing.
I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. However, I’ve never said, “I want to be an entrepreneur.” I’ve always wanted to do something that interested me—whether it’s DJ’ng, video production, or writing. I only moved on from a project when I stopped being interested—four years, 12 years, and still writing, respectively.
Hemingway said, “Prose is architecture, not interior design.” And he’s right.
While reading an article about profitable online businesses on Tim Ferriss’ site, I learned how Debbie Sterling created an engineering toy and storybook for girls called GoldieBlox. The product is clever, but what really got my hamster spinning its wheel was this gem:
Decide if you’re an entrepreneur or an inventor. When I started out I was incredibly secretive because I didn’t want anyone to steal my idea. But then a friend asked me if I wanted to be an inventor or an entrepreneur. An inventor works by themselves in a lab, but an entrepreneur needs to inspire others to lend their expertise.
Ms. Sterling was discussing manufacturing and marketing lessons she’d learned, which is particularly appropriate to writers.
At our basic level, we manufacture a product–a book, a script, a poem–then send it to market. We often don’t speak in these terms, business terms, because many of us likely identify with the inventor rather than the entrepreneur.
So which one are we?
And that’s a luxury.
In the case of businesspeople, before they create a product, they verify whether consumer demand exists for such an item. In our case, we know there is a demand for books, but that information is not specific enough. We’d like to know if there’s a demand for thrillers or fantasies or whichever genre we write. That knowledge helps to a certain extent, but here’s where art makes things tricky.
We can’t write novels by committee. We can scope out general impressions, but the inventors in all of us must hide away in our rooms and create a story to present to the world. In our business, the inventor and the entrepreneur cannot exist without the other, and we’re better for it.