Mindset · · 2 min read

Artist vs. Entrepreneur

Creators are notorious for dealing with burnout.

People usually pin the blame on the volume of work, the pressure of performance, and the challenges of fame...but there may be an even more insidious cause.

While being a "creator" seems like a single identity, to be a creator is actually to be both an artist and an entreprneur.

Creating a sustainable business around your creative work is entrepreneurship.

But creators are also artists. And while I would argue entrepreneurship itself is a creative act, a lot of creators embrace their artistic side even more deeply.

Artists thrive on self-expression, novelty, and inspiration.

But entrepreneurs thrive on being customer-centric. Success is less likely to come from self-expression and more likely to come from servicing the needs and desires of the customer.

And while entrepreneurs by definition create novel solutions, they can't be so novel that people can't quickly grasp them.

Inspiration gives way to discipline – you don't show up when you're inspired, you show up when the business requires you to show up.

So these two voices in your head will often have opposing viewpoints on how to move forward – but to succeed as a creator is to serve both of these masters.

In the best case, you love and respect these voices evenly. Sometimes one voice wins out, and other times both voices are forced to compromise.

The problem with compromise is that the best compromises usually leave both sides equally unhappy.

“A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied” – Larry David

And since both sides of the mental argument live inside of you, you feel the dissatisfaction of both sides – your inner artist and your inner entrepreneur.

So by keeping a perfect balance, you actually may experience the most inner turmoil.

If you go in the other direction, appeasing one half of your soul vs. the other, you'll feel deeper dissatisfaction on one hand and deep satisfaction on the other.

And that may actually be a more palatable outcome – unless you start playing favorites.

In seasons of financial success, do you maximize revenue in your current projects, or do you leverage that success to start some new project?

I find that in seasons when I lean more into the entrepreneurial side, my artistic side feels unseen and deeply unfulfilled.

But if you go too far in the other direction...you just may become a starving artist.

I wish there was a clear-cut, easy answer. Unfortunately, I think the best I can offer you is the awareness and language to understand why you may be feeling some form of cognitive dissonance.

When that feeling arises, ask yourself: which half of me am I ignoring?

I hope you can ride the wave and keep both masters happy. But if you're experiencing inner turmoil, just know – you're not alone.

Recommended Next

How To Keep Going

Sometimes being a creator feels like riding a bike in first gear on flat land. You're pedaling like

Join 60,000+ Creators

Subscribe to the Creator Science newsletter for real-life experiments, expert interviews, and evidence-backed advice every week.

CTA