Last three months
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
After three months of intense lectures, fun and interactive workshops and an exciting strategy game, the module ‘Managing the creative business’ ended this week. This post is about what I learned through three months and how much my thinking has changed during this time.
It all started with the Business Models. ‘It describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value’(A Osterwalder,2010). It served as a base for all the other sessions and design thinking module. Through it, I learned how the most important thing in business is to deliver value to the consumer. In this week itself, there was a lot of pre-reading and tasks to do. It created a pattern for the rest of the module. Through working the business model for a small eatery in my city, I found out how easy it gets to understand a business if you use the business model canvas. Another one we did was of the Mcdonalds. There was a task before the session to watch the movie ‘The Founder’. It was a really interesting read and the most astonishing thing for me was to find out that Mcdonalds is working as a real estate company rather than just a restaurant chain. This got me thinking about my brother’s business which I helped him set up last year. He opened up a café for the health-conscious people who have a problem in following a healthy diet. I helped him with designing the menus, logos, visiting cards and interiors of the space. We were treating it as a café business, but now I think about it we were operating in the health and fitness industry. It was our main value proposition. Realizing this earlier maybe would have helped us in recognizing more business opportunities and gaps. Like starting with a small pop up in the supermarkets. In this perspective, value to the customer was healthy food and not the feel of a good café. So it all comes down to ‘Value to the Customer’.
After that, we had a session on new venture development. We learned about ‘Lean startup’ in this session. This session was crucial as the lean startup is the thing we are doing for the design thinking module. Eric Ries wrote this book so that new startup can prevent some of the mistakes that many startups make.’Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built, and new products are launched’ (E Ries,2011). It works on the principle of Build-Measure-Learn which I wrote about in my new venture development blog. The most important thing is to pivot in any startup. Like in my design thinking startup ‘Trusteam’, we came across a problem, where our product was not viable anymore due to some restrictions. We felt stuck at that point and thought about what changes can be done. After consulting with Janja, we pivoted our product, from making an on-the-go steamer so we went on the Food Shaker direction, and now the build-measure-learn cycle starts again.
After this, I came across Entrepreneurial Finance. ‘It is the art and science of investing and financing entrepreneurial ventures’(L Alemany,2018,p. 9). This session was done by Simon Hulme. From this session started a series of Guest lecturers. This session was very fun. I thought I have gained years of knowledge in only one day. From working on the profit & loss statement to learning about the health of a company using balance sheet. I was quite happy after this session as I was always scared of financials, but Simon made it look very easy. This knowledge also helped in BSG game a lot. As a group, we came to know how EPS and ROE are calculated and how we can increase them.
Then came the session on Intellectual Property Rights by Naomi. Before this session I was thinking, this will be a little boring session and not much important either. But, I was so wrong. Intellectual Property Rights are such a big part of the creative industries. ‘Copyright is a set of ‘exclusive’ rights, giving creators the right to control the use of their work and the ability to earn from it’ (copyright.org). They are the only things that give ownership and protect our creative ideas (They need to be documented). I was also introduced to the creative commons in this session, which I have used numerous times after that. For my blogs, for my design thinking start-up and other submissions. Reflecting on IPR as a 3d designer, I felt I wasn’t even considering this before using the blocks from the internet. Another thing I felt was when working as a freelance designer, I wasn’t protecting my rights. There is nothing that stops my clients from using my designs for another use. It also made me understand why do companies gives so much effort to their logos and name why they spend so much to protect them.
Talking about the logos, let's talk about the branding session. Humans were the first things to be branded. Although the times have changed, the value of branding has almost been the same for organizations and customers(Dall Olmo Riley,2016) In this session, we had to brand ourselves for a job or our professional aspirations. As I didn’t have any specific job or company, I decided to brand my business idea for ‘The Frighter’ magazine. It gave me a new perspective on the whole branding idea and also what it means for different players. For an organization, it is a tool which helps their customers to differentiate among other companies, for consumers it is an assurance of quality, standards, and values. This session helped us in designing our product for design start-up. The brand that we are creating can be seen as a separate thing from our product. The moment we came to know, that we have to change our product, we decided that we will go with the same type of branding as it was one of the things the judges like the most. The brand came across a health initiative company which is beneficial for us.
Advertising also plays a part in branding. We had a session on it also. It was one of the most interesting tasks that we did with Phil Pinn. We worked on an advertisement for an English wine. The task was very interesting and very fun. I got to learn how advertising works, and what effort and creativity go behind an advertisement that maybe just airs for 20 seconds. They need to be a little different from others because, as the consumer comes across 1000s of advertisements daily. Moreover, Most consumers feel that advertising is often truthful, and tries to persuade people to buy things that they don’t want(L Percy, 2016). Making an impactful advertisement is a tough ask.
After doing all this, a good strategy is also necessary to manage a creative business. I came to know about the 5 P’s of strategy(Song,2017) and then applied them to the Business Strategy game also. Talking about BSG, what a great way to learn about business via a game. I quite enjoyed working with my group, we did some ploys, we took risks and most of all we had fun while learning. Although we started at the bottom, we ended up at the top. This was because we pivoted our strategy and learned from our mistakes quite early. The main things I learned from the game was that how it is easy to take unnecessary risks while working individually, a difference of opinions are common in a group but they can be solved with good communication easily, and there are so many factors which determine the success of a big company.
Now at the end of these three months, I can say that I now feel more confident while talking about businesses, ventures, and start-ups. I have learned a lot about how to market, sell and gain from my creative skills. As a designer, I could make my designs easily but I had a problem making a business out of them, which I think I know better now. I want to learn a lot more and looking forward to the next trimester. Maybe I am developing a growth mindset and see difficult things as challenges rather than problems to run away from.(C.S. Dweck,2017)
After attending all these sessions on different topics, I feel I don't want to be limited to interior designing and be open to working in different fields, where my creative skills can be used. At the start of the course I was confident that I want to open my design practice, but now I don't know. Maybe I will work in advertising or branding as I had quite fun doing them. Or maybe ‘The Frighter’ magazine idea will become something. Or maybe I should do what Gary Veynerchuk (2018) suggests in my 20s and early 30s I should try different roles and jobs, and then select the one you like. I cannot shoot down any idea now. As Seth Godin(2018) said ‘I have none left...Better be careful not to waste yours(idea)’ Maybe that's why people say that life is unpredictable. Other modules and personal research project I think will help me in finding out what I really want to do after this course. Although there is still a long way to go in term of learning, it is a good start.
It is time to enjoy holidays for now and prepare for a very happy 2019.
Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur,2010, Business Model Generation. Hoboken:John Wiley & Sons, INC.
Eric Ries., 2011, The Lean Startup,: How constant innovation creates radically successful businesses, London p. 88
Luisa Alemany, 2018, Entrepreneurial Finance, Cambridge University Press, page 9
Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog, April 1 2018, I used them all up, https://seths.blog/2018/04/i-used-them-all-up-a-warning-to-creatives/
Gary Veynerchuk, Decemeber 11 2018, A message for those feeling lost in their 20s, https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/if-youre-feeling-lost-in-your-20s-read-this/
Larry Percy & Richard Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2018, strategic advertising management, overview of Advertising and Promotion, p. 14
Dall’Olmo Riley, F. 2018 ‘Brand Management’ [Power Point Presentation]. BS7703: Managing a Creative Business. Available at: https://canvas.kingston.ac.uk/courses/7814/pages/week-7-brand-management (Accessed: 21 Dec 2017).
Dr Carol S. Dweck, 2017, Mindset, Robinson House
Janja Song, 2018, Strategic Management, Managing a Creative Business, week 4,
Protecting your work with copyright, copyright.org https://www.copyrightuser.org/understand/rights-permissions/protecting/