The artistic process is very similar to the entrepreneurial path. Both artists and entrepreneurs create something from nothing, face rejection and fine tune their approach to succeed.
Since our journeys are so similar, entrepreneurs can learn a thing or two from our artistic brethren. Here are five places to start:
1. Cultivate a willingness to fail. I have profound respect for the craft of stand-up comedy. To be a successful stand-up comic, you have to be willing to fail every time you step on stage. In order to discover what works and what is actually funny, comics have to try out new material in a room full of people, not knowing if they'll get a laugh or crickets. They succeed and fail publicly every time.
You have to be willing to fail so that you can learn what works and what doesn't. Leaders should approach failure the same way as a comedian. When a comedian's joke falls flat and the audience is stuck in an uncomfortable silence, the comedian quickly acknowledges the failure and moves on. "Note to self, never tell that joke ever again."
That public acknowledgement lets the audience shift gears and be receptive for the next joke. Leaders sometimes think that admitting mistakes could somehow tarnish their reputation. But the opposite is true. By acknowledging a misstep, your team will be able to shift gears and move forward faster.
2. Have a support group. Actors, painters, writers, and all artists understand the value of finding a safe place to practice their craft, try new things and receive feedback. For this reason artists often attend classes. Entrepreneurs need to find or create a similar support group instead of encasing themselves in the bubble of their business. Creating in a vacuum and only bouncing ideas off employees is limiting.
Breakaway and connect with others who are similar, but different. Find people who understand your world as an entrepreneur, but aren't competing in your space. Masterminds are a great outlet. You might be familiar with the business benefits of being in a mastermind, but have you considered the creative benefits? Your mastermind group can be your safe place to attempt, fail, regroup, and try again.
3. Be brave. Entrepreneurs and artists share one important quality: they both put their heart and soul on the line for others to see and judge. Not everyone in this world has the tenacity, thick skin, or sheer gall to even try such a feat. When you feel the twinge of self-doubt, remember that you are one of the brave few. With every attempt, you are closer to your success.
4. Know when to leave it alone. One skill of the best artists is knowing when to leave their creation alone and walk away. A painting can be perfect and then destroyed with more brush strokes. A book can have a chilling ending and then be ruined with one more chapter.
Some entrepreneurs get a buzz from constantly creating, changing, and adjusting. Both artists and entrepreneurs need to have the ability to acknowledge when something is just right and leave it alone. Sometimes your product doesn't need a new feature. Your marketing doesn't need a new ad campaign. Your sales strategy doesn't need a facelift. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
5. Know when to scrap it. The artist and the entrepreneur follow the same journey. Try. Fail. Get back up. Fail again. Get back up again. It takes a series of failures to reach the ultimate success. But sometimes a bad idea is just a bad idea (Re: Gigli, Ishtar and the last three Star Wars movies.) This doesn't mean the attempt didn't have value. There is something to be learned from every experience.
Scrap the bad idea, but apply what you learned from the attempt to your next venture. Trying to make a bad idea work won't let you experience the joys of being an entrepreneur.
Finding different ways to tap into your creative side will make you a well-rounded entrepreneur and leader. There's an artist inside all of us, just waiting to break free.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Sharí Alexander is a communication specialist and founder of Observe Connect Influence, a Los Angeles based training and consulting firm helping leaders increase their influence through educational programs and private coaching. She blogs at Shari-Alexander.com.