Creativity and Business

My job allows me to visit many different companies and meet very diverse people working in the Creative Industries. I love it. Every conversation I have opens up a new bunch of issues for me to explore.

Lately there is a recurrent topic coming up and that is:
the difficulty of growing creative businesses.

Starting up a company is not easy. Passing from concept to implementation is always a struggle. It requires a lot of energy and support, founding and a good network to start with.

But growing is also tough, even if you have the potential for it.
I have gathered here a few questions that I’ve found more interesting and relevant:

I start from the premises that: most of creative companies are founded by creative people.

The difficulty when growing is that there are too many things to look at:

  • the commercial side: networking, social media, finding new clients
  • management: making sure you have the required resources and making the best of them
  • creation: as creatives, founders must and want to have input in the concept
  • implementation: if the resources are limited, founders may also have to work making the stuff happen

And now the big question is: what to leave on others’ hands?

In crisis times we don’t want to turn down any opportunity. But can we cope with all?
Getting more work does not always entail having the possibility of hiring more people.

Creative companies usually work on more than one project at the same time, which with limited resources  is tough to manage. Prioritising tasks, resources and time management are key jobs.
At what point of the growing process does the company need a project manager, someone whose only job is to organise and coordinate the work?

For some reason creativity is usually undervalued, especially if it doesn’t have a tangible outcome. And it is difficult to value externally (how much to charge) and internally (how much to pay the employees).
Small creative companies usually have very variable income, but it depends on each project taken. Therefore it is more difficult to establish salaries as you don’t really know how much money the company will be making in 4 months.

The outcome usually requires of some kind of technology. And here the battle starts. For some reason it seems that technology and creativity struggle to communicate. So how to find the middle ground?

The same sort of battle happens between money and creativity.
Creativity doesn’t have limits. We can go with ideas as far as we want. It is always unfinished: we can always do it better and it can always be improved. Unfortunately budget, timing and resources have a limit. If the company goes far over that limit, they could end up paying dearly for it.

I have seen a few different ways of structuring small creative companies, but I haven’t quite yet made up my mind on which one works better.
There is one that specially calls my attention, and that’s what I call Skills Based:
Each project has a different team. Only the creative and project-administrative managers are a constant. The concept-implementation bit is made by a new team each project.

That format brings to me so many questions: Do we have a good system to help freelancers to find the right projects/companies and vice versa? Or does it only rely on recruitment agencies and personal networking skills? Could it be made easier?

All these are things I would like to explore within the framework of Moving Targets (@MT_Scotland), so if you have any tips, insights or issues to contribute with, give as a shout!  I’ll be more than happy to have a chat and learn from your experience.  :)


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