Lesson 1: Thinking Like a Business

What You’ll Learn: Whether you’re a gig worker or busking on a downtown street corner, thinking and operating as a business has many advantages, from being able to obtain credit to taking advantage of legitimate deductions on your tax filings.

Thinking Like a Business (continued)

A Brief Exercise…

You may be saying to yourself, “but I’m a creative, not an entrepreneur.”

As a creative, you are probably:

You don’t follow the crowd or wait for others to tell you what to do. You listen to that voice inside you and follow your gut, even if others tell you you’re crazy.

You believe opportunity is always just around the corner. You know that you can create money at any point in the future and readily share knowledge and resources with others.

When you have an idea, you pursue it fearlessly. Failure is just a stepping stone to a new opportunity. Occasional failure is part of the process.

You know you don’t know it all. You are a lifetime student, learning something new at every opportunity and encounter.

Forward Thinking
You don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the past. You focus on what comes next and know that big goals can be achieved through hard work and patience.

You often think in terms of “we,” not “me.” You are part of a larger community, and you often collaborate or partner with others. Since you can’t possibly know all the answers, you find people that do.

You know the odds, and yet you still take the leap. You aren’t afraid to take a calculated risk or pull a Royal Flush after taking four cards in a high-stakes game of Poker.

You aren’t set on a single path. You are nimble and ready to shift as soon as something doesn’t work like you thought it did. You don’t give up easily, but you do know when to pivot.

Problem Solver
You know that every challenge has at least one solution. The solution may even lead to a new idea or a way to get around that roadblock that’s been driving you crazy.

Setbacks tend to motivate you. You have a goal and are going to achieve it come hell or high water. You are driven and won’t give up without a fight, especially when everything seems hopeless.

You study the market and the input of others, but you’re not afraid to make the tough call and stand by it at the end of the day. You are confident in the decisions you make.

If you see yourself in even half of these traits, congratulations! This is actually a list of traits an entrepreneur should have before they start a business. You already have what it takes to be a business owner and didn’t even know it.

Getting Started

Let’s start with the fundamentals. Your talent has value in this world. There is only one you, with a unique viewpoint and journey here on this earth. Everything up to this point has never been experienced in the same way as you have experienced it. This is what gives you your individuality and perspective. At the very minimum, it is something to be treasured by you. Moreover, it can be monetized with the right tools and mindset.

Entire books have been written about how to start a business and make it profitable. We’re not going to go through the whole process in mind-numbing detail. We will briefly mention that there are two great resources on this website that will walk you through the process. The Startup Playbook is a good starting point as it is a step-by-step guide that connects you to the state agencies you’ll need to interface with as well as lots of linked resources. If you’ve never started a business before, the Entrepreneur Academy will take you through the process. Some of our top small business experts provide you with guidance.

As you start to think like a business, you’ll see that your views change, sometimes ever so slightly.

Need Creative Business Owner
Value I value what I create, and sales are nice, but not my priority. I have value, as do the things I create, and others may value it too.
Market My market is limited to friends, family, and some community members. My market is local but has the potential to be regional, national and perhaps international.
Marketing Most is organic, relying on word of mouth and my personal social media. An up-to-date marketing plan guides my strategy to grow the market for my offerings deliberately.
Price My prices are based on what I think it’s worth to others. Pricing is based on an analysis of my competitors and continual experimentation with new price points.
Payment I accept cash or online payments. I accept cash, credit, online payments and can offer terms.
Perception I am locally known and appreciated and have a small following online. My reputation is based on continual innovation that leads the market or defines it entirely. I have imitators (and a lawyer).
Scalability I have limited capacity to produce products or deliver services because the work is not scalable. Scalability is possible through replication and increased production of originals and managing intellectual property rights to multiply revenue streams through additional channels.
Earnings My annual income is limited by finite time and market valuation. Income is unlimited as assets can be scaled, rights sold for other iterations and additional resources brought in to handle mundane tasks to allow more time for research, ideation and production.


In short, thinking like a business allows you to:

  • Maintain a holistic view of what you’re trying to accomplish.
  • Anticipate and act on significant shifts in the marketplace so you can take advantage of new opportunities and avoid dead ends.
  • Maximize your resources and make tough calls that will push you forward.
  • Create and inspire others to embrace your vision and work towards it.
  • Rapidly prototype new ideas, experiment and take calculated risks that are aligned with your vision for the company and its short and long-term goals.
  • Connect the dots between ideas, actions and people that others fail to see. Seeing patterns allows you to be original, creative and stay ahead of any competitors.

Thinking like a business also helps you focus on the things that showcase your unique creativity and value in this world while building sustainable wealth in your personal and professional life. The ultimate goal is not to work harder but to work smarter. A business allows you to make more money, keep more money and find new ways to generate revenue by monetizing the intellectual property you develop as a creative.


Time to move on to the different structures and how they can affect you as a creative, whether you’re a gig worker or building the next big gaming dynasty.