Finding the common denomiator

by | Jul 11, 2018 | 0 comments

I was just doing some reading and research for a class I’m teaching today for CIEE in DCU on Entrepreneurs and what made them become entrepreneurs in the first place.  Now I’m not sure that someone really deliberately sets out to be an entrepreneur, nor would I suggest that someone who is an entrepreneur doesn’t set out to become one, but more that it is a mindset, a set of traits that when aligned with a common denominator sets off a chain of events that leads them ending up as entrepreneurs. As in they have to be open to the idea and have the vision, tenacity and sure bloody-mindedness to carry it through to fruition.

Looking at a number of well known and not so well known ones, from Eoin Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, all the usual suspects and one thing that struck me was that they all worked in teams, not solo but in teams – nearly everyone was a co-founder. This just shows that no matter who you are, not even one of the ‘superhero’ entrepreneurs you can’t do it all on your own. Even then if one becomes the face and others fall by the wayside no one was an island.

Other common traits that become obvious the more you look were that they all wee trying to solve very real but very ‘small’ problems. It didn’t matter if that problem was in a specific industry or a more general public problem they were all Not trying to solve 5 or 10 problems but 1. Far too often we try to solve the BIG problem which encompasses so many small problems that we get lost or the idea gets lost in translation.  It is really best to concentrate on the one small idea, the idea that would eventually lead to the BIG idea but the one that is not it at the moment.  Think of YouTube, the problem that ‘folklore’ suggests was that one of the co-founders was at a wedding and wanted up upload video from the Wedding but couldn’t as there was no easy way to to it, or another piece of ‘folklore’ suggests it was in relation to the Tsunami in Indonesia and that there must have been numerous pieces of video that could be shared but again there was no platform available to share it.  The problem is simple, a place to upload and watch user created content (the hurdles to get there are big enough granting you that, but the problem is simple). They weren’t trying to build a platform that could do this that and the other but a site to solve a simple problem. As the old adage goes, Keep It Simple, Stupid! (KISS)

By doing this it meant that they had to opportunity to pivot, to modify to change.  They also didn’t have the perfect solution when they went to market but a very lean model that could be modified quickly and often.

So if we look at ourselves can we see these common traits in us?  Today’s task it to take a piece of paper, fold it in half down the middle.  On the left side put the traits that you already have – label them good traits or bad traits.  Now on the right hand side list the traits that you don’t have, the ones that you need to be a success.  Label these by looking at whether you can (or want) to have that trait or if someone else in your team needs to have that trait.

Next if you already have a team, get everyone else in the team to write out their own traits and the ones they are lacking.  Combine them on a big sheet based against the traits that you think an entrepreneur should have.  Do you have a complete set or are there gaps and if so how can you fill those gaps.  Because the traits that all of the ‘superhero’ entrepreneurs have (and their teams) are ones that we could all learn from.

Upcoming Courses

Creative Entrepreneurs Summer School

27 - 29 July 2018
Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Developing Your Creative Career (Online)

August 2018

Creative Thinking & Ideation Workshop

13 August 2018
Ashford, Co/ Wicklow

Value Propositions

15 October 2018
Ashford, Co/ Wicklow

Ian Oliver

Ian Oliver

Head of Artistic & Creative Entrepreneurship


Building change for Sustainable Creative Careers

Ian has over 15 years’ senior management and entrepreneurial experience in the Arts, creative and technology Sectors and 4 years’ experience working with Local Government, Local Enterprise Offices, Local Arts Offices, Arts Organisations and Venues, Universities, Businesses and Community Groups throughout Ireland, auditing and engaging the artistic and creative community within specific geographic regions.

Currently Ian is working on advising and designing sustainable projects that utilise art and creativity as the main driver to effect sustainable economic and social change.  He also teaches and mentors artistic and creative entrepreneurship training to adult learners and undergraduate students.

Ian’s experience includes developing and implementing business / career / marketing strategies, marketing, business development, digital media, digital content creation, communications, project management, developing business, marketing and digital media strategies and implementation, project development, management and budgeting, resource management, team development and cohesion, training and training distribution methods for clients, staff and stakeholders.

Ian regularly gives papers on Artistic & Creative Entrepreneurship including:

  • What is Creative Entrepreneurship, Trans National Creative Exchange, Solent University Southampton, October 2015;
  • The Role of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, Developing Talent and Opportunities, Slovak Government as part of their EU Presidency, Bratislava, September 2016;
  • Entrepreneurship Training in the Arts, 20th Anniversary Conference, University of Pécs, Hungary, November 2016;
  • Developing a Creative Model Canvas, 3E Conference, Cork, May 2017.

We team creativity and entrepreneurship for impact and profitability!

We specialise in entrepreneurial training and provide business support for Cultural and Creative Professionals, Businesses and Organisations.

OK, so now you stand out, what then? Visibility and marketing.

Visibility and marketing OK, so you've made your product or service stand out, what then? Standing out is one thing but without any clients then you're not really standing out, only standing in an empty office.  One thing about standing out is that you need to have...

Something to be said about standing out

There really is something to be said about standing out, for doing something so different that people take notice, by being remarkable.

Know what you want to find out

Ask your clients about a specific problem / question you need an answer to. But be specific in what you are trying about your the outcome you are after

Latest News

Why you have to start with why

  Last week i mentioned about purpose in your creative practices, well there is also purpose or why in your creative work.. why do you do what you do? What is it that you are trying to highlight, inform, understand, present? Why do you use the medium(s) that you do?...

The Sound of Silence, The Sound of Nothing at all…

Stepping out into the great unknown, well not really the unknown as I’ve been there a few times before.  These is something about having a regular source of income that gives you a sense of comfort but is it really comfort or just a way of getting through.  A friend of mine said when I mentioned that I had ‘quit’ my job ‘ Life’s too short if you hate the stuff you do.  You can get by with ‘it’s boring, but pays the bills but allows me to do what I really want to do’ but not with ‘I fucking hate this!’ And that’s pretty much were I was with the last project I was working on for the past year full time, so now it’s back to doing more of what I want to do and less of what I don’t want to do. 

Fear of Failure or failure with fear

You know when you've been waiting for ages for something to happen, something that you have no control over but that something could change your year if it happens in a positive way? Well we had been waiting to hear about 2 major grants that we had applied for, one...

Old Dog / New Tricks

It's said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, well our 6 year old Bergamasco certainly put that to shame.  At the age of 6 we have 4 new puppies and despite never having been a mum before she is now.  Yes it's true she's had to work at it, some parts came...

Split projects into manageable chunks

I know this is a very simplified way of managing a project, but how many times have you not even started a project because the project looked too big to handle? – yes me too. So split each project into manageable bite-sized pieces and lets see how we get on!

Set time to work on your business

How did you get on with your list, are those 5 things ticked off? - I know mine aren't, only 4 of them were completed so far but that's OK, 4 is better than 0 and there is still time left to finish the 5th task, or I could delegate it for Monday morning.... So now...

Upcoming Events:


Entrepreneurship Training Programme for Creatives

Ashford, Co Wicklow: 27 - 29 July 2018

Early Bird: €200 - till the 1 July 2018 Standard: €300

This practical 2.5-day Entrepreneurship Training Programme for Creatives has been especially designed for all those who want to set up, run or further develop their own creative business, organisation or project in a professional and sustainable way.

During the programme participants will develop a practical and comprehensive strategy that will provide a blueprint for their future success.

Developing a sustainable business model, understanding and articulating competitive advantage and unique selling points, defining value proposition, identifying go to market strategy and long term business goals will be the focus for the programme.

Participants can expect:

  • dynamic, effective and highly individualised training
  • experience-based learning
  • lots of feedback from tutors and peers

The training will be delivered by experienced tutors combining their own creative backgrounds with years of running creative businesses and teaching entrepreneurship to creatives.

The programme, initiated by the Centre for Creative Practices in Dublin in 2013, has been attended by over 800 creative entrepreneurs in Ireland and Europe, earning enthusiastic reviews and helping creative practitioners to successfully grow their business, organisation or project.

These 2.5 days will be the best investment you have made in your creative career!


Creative Thinking and Co-Creation Techniques

1 day workshop
Ashford, Co. Wicklow
13 August 2018

Early Bird: €150
Standard: €250

By using a number of creative thinking techniques we will give practical examples of how you can take ideas from conception to reality. Based around the frameworks of  PO statements to "Yes, and..." we will look to develop out of the box creative solutions for real World problems.  We will look at a three stage work-flow taking us from idea generation, through validating the idea and testing.  We will look at a three stage work-flow taking us from idea generation, through validating the idea and testing.

Creative Business Model Development

1 day workshop
Ashford, Co. Wicklow
10 September 2018

Early Bird: €85
Standard: €125

The workshop will help you to answer all your strategic questions and to define the backbone of your creative business. It helps you to prepare a smart plan for the short, medium and also the long term perspective of your creative business.

Value Proposition Design

1 day workshop
15 October 2018

Early Bird: €85
Standard: €125

To run any successful business you need a clearly defined VALUE PROPOSITION that explains how your product/service solves your customers’ problem, need or improves their situation. A Value Proposition allows you to define who your customers are and to offer them what they really want. It also helps to secure grant aid or private investment.

Developing Your Creative Career

June 2018
Course Cost: €150

Whether you are a graduate, or looking to develop your creative career this course will give you clarity, focus and a roadmap to work from. During the course we ​will look at your purpose,​ ​your niche,​ ​your dream job or career position​ ​and identify​ the steps you need to take to reach your goal.

Find Us

The Old Milking Parlour
Ballymurrin Lower, Kilbride
Wicklow, Ireland, A67TK64

Monday–Friday: 10:00AM–6:00PM

tel: +353(0)858895499

Still have questions?

We'd love to hear from you so please send us your feedback!

Copyright © 2017 Creative Entrepreneurs Academy