Key elements for Managing a Creative Business

As I start writing this end of the year reflective blog, I think to when we first started the semester and our MA, a merely three months ago. We came a long way since then. This is a little recount from Managing a Creative Business module.

Let’s start with Business Models. I’ve heard about business models before, as a film producer, you have to create your film’s business model in order to obtain funds and present it to financiers or people you want to collaborate with. But I never knew how to do a business model for other type of companies. That’s what we learned to do with Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas (2010), a simple, easy way of turning your ideas into a business. Well, nothing is easy, but is a simple way to “map” your product or service and see at first, before you start anything, if it’s viable. It also helps you to understand what you would need to make it happen, your costs and resources and the most important thing, if this is this something that creates value for your customers.

One of the most important lessons we have learned as workers of the Creative Industries is on the subject of Intellectual Property. It is only one of the most important sources for making money in any of the creative industries. I’ve learned, throughout the years, a lot about Copyright and how to protect yourself in the film industry, what you need to have as a producer. But as any other law, here in the UK, things differ and it is important to look into each country that you are working with. As a film producer, we deal a lot with copyright, since film is a collaborative business, and usually as a producer you are the one in charge of exploiting the rights, let’s say the owner. But something that we learned, and that we need to have present, is to always identify the copyright holder for anything that you want to use. This can be a long process but it’s worth it, otherwise don’t use it.

One of my favourite things that I learned this year was on the lecture of New Venture Development. I was really surprised to learn that according to CBinsights, the main reason a startup fail is because there is no market need. And that is the main thing I learned with this lecture, our business needs to solve a problem for a specific customer segment but again, it’s not that simple. You need to think that maybe if there are no competitors it’s because there is no market need. So it’s quite complex to create a business. I quite enjoyed learning about the lean startup method (Ries, 2011). I even think that the base behind it, to test and pivot if needed, can be used in the film industry quite well. I will definitely try to have it in mind when creating any audiovisual product.

Let’s go back to business model for a second. Once you have it, it is time for the Strategy. This is quite difficult and complex to explain. During several weeks we were put to the test by playing a Business Strategy Game in groups in which we were competing with other members of our class. We had to run an athletic shoe company, making decisions each week, to keep our business running, while trying to win the game. At first we decided what kind of strategy we would apply and we stuck to it. The problem was that we only had the strategy in mind when making decisions and we didn’t think about the market and competitors. And if there is one thing we learned about the strategy, and business in general, is that you need to adapt to the changes. If it means changing strategy or rethinking it, then that is what you should do. But we learned a lot and we had fun “competing” with the rest of our classmates. And we definitely have a better understanding of strategy and how it needs to be reevaluated every once in a while.

Our next topic was Brand Management. As we learned, a brand can certainly be many things. It can be an identity, a name, a representation, a symbol, a design, an image, amongst many others. During class we had the opportunity to create a brand for ourselves or the company we wish to have. We had to recognise three main items:

  1. Frame of Reference: What goals the consumer can expect to achieve by using your brand.

  2. Points of Parity: Once the frame of reference is chosen there are minimum requirements that need to be met so that consumers see your product as a credible player in that industry. From time to time, these points of parity need to be reevaluated.

  3. Points of Difference: It means the way a brand is different from another in the same field. And according to Keller et. al (2002) there are three types of brand differences; a message can be targeted by considering the brand performance associations, brand imagery associations and consumer insight associations.

I created my brand by thinking of my ideal production company. We had to create a map of our business by having in mind these three items above and then we had to present it to the class. It was a great experience and it made me realize I have a several points of difference to offer to my customers as a producer. I will definitely keep developing my brand, both personal/professional and my company.

One of my favorite topics was Advertisement. As I explained in one of my blogs, I have a love-hate relationship with advertising, but I will definitely say it’s a fun topic to learn about. Again, we have to be creative when it comes to advertising. As consumers, we are bombarded with advertising and products everywhere! So in order to break through the clutter (of too much advertising), we have to create interest. Because we use so many devices, social media, and receive messages everywhere, most media campaigns today use a mix of media in order to convey the message. Consumers today are smarter than ever and we need to be clever to get their attention. The difficult thing about creating a great advertising campaign is to satisfy both the client and the customer.

We had a fun exercise during class. We had to create the idea for a TV commercial of an upscale English wine to be sold in France. The most important thing was to think about the consumer but not forgetting what the client needed according to the brief we were given. What was interesting to see was that every group created something completely different but using the same guidelines. These made me think that we can be very creative when it comes to advertising, sometimes it’s just a matter of coming out of the box.

I have to admit, the most difficult lecture for me was Entrepreneurial Finance. Even though I like numbers and I’ve always been good with them, it is still something that for me, it’s not easy to understand. To my surprise, Mr. Hulme, our lecturer, put it all in very simple terms so that we at least understand the basics when it comes to our businesses.

We talked about Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow. According to Hulme (2015), the P&L statement is like a video that records what happens during a period of time, it could be a month, a quarter or a year. It gives us a clear picture of what is happening in our business. The balance sheet is like a photograph of the company (Hulme, 2017). It can quickly show the health of the business. It is very useful as it shows what assets does your business have and what liabilities. You can easily see if your assets are greater than your liabilities just by taking a quick look at the balance sheet. All the in-class exercises made it very easy to understand a bit more and to at least know what we are looking at when it comes to our finances.

As I was telling a friend today, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned it such a short amount of time. I’ve learned things that I never thought of and that I look forward to keep understanding them better. We talked about things that I knew about it but that only helped to expand my knowledge or made me look at it from another angle.

Now that I look back I see how everything is connected and how it is important to pay attention to all of those things in our own businesses because one depends on the other. It was a great semester of practice and theory. Of learning the base and then putting it into work. I look forward to implementing these new learnings throughout my career.

My wish for 2018? 365 days of new learnings and experiences!

Let’s not forget to fail, learn and pivot!

References:

Dall’Olmo Riley, F. (2017) ‘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: 22 Dec 2017).

Hulme, Simon (2015). The Profit and Loss Made Easy.

Hulme, Simon (2017). The Balance Sheet Made Easy.

Keller, K.L., Sternthal, B. and Tybout A. (2002) ‘Three Questions You Need to Ask About Your Brand’, Harvard Business Review, 80 (9), pp. 80-86.

Korn, N (2017). ‘Intellectual Property Rights’. BS7703: Managing a Creative Business.

Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Yves, & Clark, Tim. (2010). Business model generation : A handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers.

Ries, E. (2011). The lean startup : How constant innovation creates radically successful businesses. London: Portfolio Penguin.

Robinson, H. (2017) ‘Advertising’ [Power Point Presentation]. BS7703: Managing a Creative Business. Available at: https://canvas.kingston.ac.uk/courses/7814/pages/advertising (Accessed: 22 Dec 2017).

Strategyzer.com. (2017). Strategyzer | Canvases. Available at: https://strategyzer.com/canvas

(Accessed 22 Dec. 2017).

Song (2017) ‘New venture development’ [PowerPoint presentation]. BS7703: Managing a Creative Business. Available at: https://canvas.kingston.ac.uk/courses/7814/files/366529/download?wrap=1(Accessed: 20 December 2017).

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