Entrepreneurial Lessons From Trash Art

I have great admiration for artist and I wish that I had more artistic talent. I’m often amazed by their artwork and wonder how they managed to get to the final stage from the humble beginning. I’m especially impressed by trash art: those objects made out of things that we would usually simply throw away or walk past assuming that they were worthless.

Not only does trash art bring to life something that most of us think as useless, it also can teach us some valuable lessons about business and life. Here are a few that came to mind when I saw these images:

plastic bottle lobster
(Image courtesy of loungerie)

Work with what you have: It’s always easy to complain in life and business that we don’t have enough. The other person or business has an unfair advantage that makes their life or earning power easier. The fact is that life is unfair and while you probably have less than some people, there are a lot of people that are beginning with less than you. There is no point in worrying about it because it isn’t going to change the facts and no matter how little you have, with creativity, determination and a lot of hard work, you can make something from it. If old plastic bottles that are normally thrown away each year can be made into a sculpture of a lobster, you have plenty of tools at your disposal to create whatever in life or in business that you desire.

driftwood elephant
(Image courtesy of allfr3d)

Less can be an advantage: Having less can actually be an advantage when you begin to create something. When you don’t have a lot of money, you need to become creative on how to accomplish you goals. While this may at first seem to be a disadvantage, if you can incorporate this into your life or business, you will be in much better shape to live frugally or keep business expenses down when things may get tight in the future. If you have always been used to having money to do whatever you want and suddenly it isn’t there, it’s a lot more difficult to adapt. Having less will let you see that there is no reason to spend a lot of money on wood to build an elephant when you can build that same elephant with driftwood that costs absolutely nothing.

socrates phone books
(Image courtesy of mdumlao98)

Luck has little to do with success: While it is certainly true that there are people who have built their success from luck (think lottery winners), they are a small minority and it’s not the way you’re going to build your success. For the vast majority who are successful, that “luck” was created with long hours of hard work that often goes unseen so it only appears that the success was instant and easy. Phone books don’t magically turn into a sculpture of Socrates – it takes a lot of imagination, patience, planning and work to make it happen as it does with most things in life.

plastic bag polar bear
(Image courtesy of 185Queens)

Be willing to take risks: When you decide to do something, in all likelihood you’re going to hear a lot of negatives from others that won’t agree with your plans. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore them (in fact, you should listen to their comments because they will often give you good advice in areas where you will need to work especially hard to succeed), but also be willing to take the risk to move forward with your goals. Not many people are going to support you when you are gathering old plastic bags, but they will eventually see that their discouragement was wrong when you turn them into a polar bear.

computer part sculpture
(Image courtesy of Lorna is)

Use what you have creatively: Just because you’re finished using something in one way or may not have use for it at this particular moment doesn’t mean that it can’t be used in other ways in the future. Since you likely have limited resources, think how you may be able to use items in alternative ways than what they were originally meant to be used for. For example, it was these photos that created this post and not the other way around. I came across them over the last few months and when I found ones I thought were interesting, I saved them even though I didn’t have a particular use for them and they were not created to teach an entrepreneurial lesson. As I was going through them, however, I realized that they helped to explain a topic that I had be wanting to write about. Just as old computer parts can be recreated into a sculpture, many items that you have can be used for other things with a bit of creativity.

The biggest lesson is that the everyday things around you can often inspire you in ways that you never thought if you simply spend a little time thinking about it.