T-Shirts and Suits: A Guide to the Business of Creativity
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This book is intended to be both inspiring and practical, to offer some great ideas for building creative businesses, yet at the same time warn that it’s not easy. It is for start-ups and established enterprises, large and small. It aims to be readable as a whole and also useful to refer back to, section by section. Take from the book what’s useful to you, as and when it suits you and leave the rest for other people or for another day. Most of what I have written in the following pages I have learned from my own mistakes. My best qualifications are not my academic and professional ones but ...more
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My approach to consultancy and training is not to lecture but to facilitate – to offer some thoughts and experience to stimulate new ideas and empower others – then help people to find the individual solutions that suit their enterprise. It is in the same spirit that I have written this book. As you read this guide, bear in mind that nothing in it is absolute. Each idea needs to be adapted to your own circumstances and ethos; each is offered as a starting point rather than a conclusion. If you disagree with some of it, that’s fine. If it prompts you to find a more effective solution, that’s ...more
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This book builds on the success of that work. Some of the points made in this guide are illustrated by examples of Merseyside businesses, but the themes are universal and I have also drawn on my work with CIDS, CIDA and other organisations as well as my international experience of consultancy and training in countries as diverse as China, South Africa and India.
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The most exciting creativity, I believe, is the alchemy of blending apparent opposites, what we often call ‘art’ and ‘science’, recognising that they are not opposites at all, from which we have to choose either/or in a binary fashion, but the yin and yang of a whole.
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Successful creative enterprises need to have a creative product or service; they also need to invent a special and workable formula of all the essential ingredients of business.
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Lifestyle ‘Lifestyle businesses’ succeed by delivering both a healthy income and a rich quality of life for their owners. For others, success means building a profitable business that eventually doesn’t need them, so they can sell it and move on. And some people want their creativity to sit alongside another career as a hobby rather than a business. Why do it? For those about to embark on a journey into creative enterprise, the first question must be: Why do it? Why build a business around your creative passion? The obvious answer is to express your creativity and make a good living at the ...more
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Yes, there is a risk of compromising your creativity with business
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Where? Where do you want to be in the future? Pick a significant future date or milestone in your life (it doesn’t have to be ‘in five years time’, though it could be). Describe what your business will look like. Who will be your clients? How many people will be involved? What level of income will you achieve? Draw up a blueprint for your goals. Be ambitious. Select a destination which is out of reach but not out of sight. This is your Vision.
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Answer the customer’s question ‘What’s in it for me?’ so find out what it is you really do for them This is your Mission. You don’t need to have a ‘mission statement’ (especially not a glib one), but you do need to understand what customers value about your business and what they really pay you for.
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Values describe how we are going to conduct ourselves along the road to success.
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The ‘PRIMEFACT’ checklist People. What are the strengths and weaknesses of our people? Employees, directors, members, associates, advisers and other stakeholders. Reputation (or Brand). What is our reputation with our target customers? What are the strengths – or weaknesses – of our brand or brands? Intellectual Property. What intellectual property do we have? How is it protected? How easily can it be turned into income streams? Market Research/ Market Information. What information do we have about market segments and market trends? What do we know about individual clients and their specific ...more
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Are we agile enough to seize new opportunities. Are people prepared to change and ready for change? Or are we unable to change? Collaborators (Alliances, Partnerships and Networks). What are the strengths and weaknesses of our associations with other businesses and organisations (including government)? Talents (competencies and skills). What are our core competencies. What skills do we have available and what gaps are there? Are we able to learn new skills?
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Remember that not all weaknesses need to be fixed. Maybe you can find a new market position where your weaknesses are not so significant. The important thing here is to recognise your strengths and weaknesses in relation to competitors. You may have a particular strength, but if your competitors have it too, or are even better, then it does not give you Competitive Advantage.
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Core Competencies Your Core Competencies are the key skills on which you base your business success. These are often ‘deeper’ than first thought. ‘Core Competencies’ For example Canon recognised that their core competences were not in cameras, but more fundamentally in optics and this allowed them to see that they could transfer their expertise into the photocopier market.
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Richard Branson’s Virgin brand is fundamentally about customer service, so it can be applied not only to music but also to airlines, trains, financial services and mobile phones.
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One of the reasons to assess your competitive strengths is to answer the question: what can your business be world-class at? Note that the question is not what you would like to be world-class at, but what can you be. Knowing this, and then playing ruthlessly to your key strength, is part of a successful Hedgehog Strategy. The fox, renowned for his cunning, has many strategies for killing the hedgehog. On the other hand, the hedgehog has only one strategy for defending itself. Whenever the fox attacks, from whatever direction, the hedgehog rolls itself into a ball of spikes. It works every ...more
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In a creative enterprise, constant learning and the build-up of knowledge should be part of a Business Dashboard and monitored as closely as financial measures of success. Crucially, the priorities for learning must be aligned to the overall business strategy, rather than individuals’ personal preferences.
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The ‘ICEDRIPS’ checklist Innovations include computer technology and the internet (of course) but other developments in the biosciences and transportation. Competition not only from rivals but threats from other Forces of Competition such as new entrants and substitute products. Economics includes factors such as inflation, exchange rates, downturns in the industry, public spending etc.
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Demographics
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include the ageing of the population, migration, trends in employment, social class etc, Regulations such as new laws, protocols, agreements and conventions. Infrastructure such as telecommunications networks, transport, public services and utilities. Partners Strategic alliances with other companies or organisations (see also Co-opetition) Social trends including acceptance of technology, use of leisure time, fashions and
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The best way to use the checklist is to produce a long list of 100 or so things going on in the world – and things likely to happen. (Imagine all the things you would have to tell a colleague who’d been in outer space for ten years!) This will produce a generic list, useful for all organisations. The Competition and Partners elements will apply more specifically to the business or organisation in question.
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Then add any special external factors relevant to your sector. This might include technical developments, government initiatives or industry matters, for example. Write all of them down and then sift carefully through them for the factors that could represent opportunities and threats for your business. For example, low-cost international flights (infrastructure) and downloadable music files (innovation) provide opportunities for some enterprises,
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It’s a shift of thinking, from ‘How can we sell what we want to create?’ to ‘How can we use our creativity to provide what customers want to buy?’. The word ‘marketing’ encompasses both science and art as well as a wide range of skills, but essentially it can be separated into ‘strategic marketing’ and ‘operational marketing’. Strategic and Operational Marketing Operational marketing is the more visible side: advertising, PR and selling that is about communicating towards customers, telling them about products and services.