Bristol Media, the superb network for Bristol’s creative community, recently asked me to put my Marketing Donut hat on, and take part in a panel discussion about how to get your creative business started. I was called in to talk specifically about social media marketing.
The discussion was ‘a game of two halves’. First up, creative people who’d recently started their business were quizzed about their experiences. Then, be-suited business experts commented on what they had heard. Yes, I was in the second group (how times change!)
The roll-call of creative businesses included Glow Creative, The White Balance, Spirit PR, Mobile Pie and Wonky Films and – wow - they were impressive.
Mike Bennett, who hosted the session, kept the discussion moving and covered a lot of ground, including:
- Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?
- What obstacles did you need to overcome?
- Did you have a business plan?
- What would you do differently if you had your time again?
It was thrilling to hear the enthusiasm and pride this talented group generated as they recalled their first steps in business.
For us ‘experts’ it was rather strange experience as we listened to the disembodied voices of the first live discussion. I sat in a small studio in the company of some very venerable business experts from an accountancy firm, a law firm, Business Link, and SETsquared (hi-tech incubation specialist). And it was great to meet Mark Mason, a highly successful local businessman who has ‘been there and done it’. All of us were caught up in the excitement and drive the new businesses were describing in the studio next door.
The creative start-ups universally felt uncomfortable with the word ‘entrepreneur’, stressing rather that the impetus to set up in business was down to a desire to control who they worked with and what projects they took on.
Yet each and every one had the spark and drive crucial to surviving the first year in business.
What struck me was how the start-ups recognised that networking – in all its forms – was fundamental to their initial marketing. This struck a chord with me as all my recent marketing work has led back, one way or another, to networking. So, I was able to chip in with examples of how Twitter, Ecademy, LinkedIn, and blogs can have business outcomes.
The podcast is 40 minutes in total, and well worth a listen if you are interested in starting a business, or if you support business start-ups.