Why the tech-influenced startup motto "move fast and break things" doesn't work for creative entrepreneurs.

This widely accepted mantra assumes that all entrepreneurs like to break things at breakneck speed. And if you don’t, the startup world is determined to teach you just how valuable moving like a bull in a china shop is.

But startups in the creative world normally play by different rules. Creative entrepreneurs are most often building brands and products in an environment where they have one shot to establish the desired impression. That, obviously, leaves little room for trying out untested ideas and iterating with the public as the sounding board for development.

So, what to do? There is little doubt the adage has worked for countless tech startups, propelling them into the stratospheres of success. Ask someone looking to make it in Silicon Valley or one of its global equivalents, and their advice is likely to be along the lines of “BUILD, TEST, GROW, BUILD, GROW, TEST, GROW REALLY FAST, GET FUNDED, GROW EVEN FASTER.” But what about the preparation, attention to detail and finesse that can make or break so many creative projects which have one shot to create that all important first impression?

Imagine designing a collection for your new fashion label with the aim of it being the ‘beta’ version. Your ‘official’ collection that will define your brand will likely have a swift come down learning from the negative reviews and non-existent buyers. The designers reading this will think this a ludicrous idea, which is exactly the point.

Or, imagine as an architect, knowingly creating a flashy, game-changing design based on an unstable foundation to win the bid. Don’t worry, you and your team can just pivot and redesign everything when the construction company has broken ground. Laughable, no?

That is what many startups and their proponents have been advocating as the path for entrepreneurs. Sure, it works for some, but it is crucial to define what kind of entrepreneur you are, and it’s often a very different kind if you’re in the creative world.

As iconic creative entrepreneur Natalie Massenet often reminds, ‘never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression - with investors, with customers, with PR and with marketing.’

Andy Pratt @CityUniLondon