In recent years, there has been an increase of attention in the creative industries, so the creative entrepreneurship issue also has been interested. What is creative entrepreneurship by the way? In my view, creative entrepreneurs are investors like businessmen but what they differently invest are ideas and talents. What else make creative entrepreneur differ from typical business is focusing on creation and operation of creative or intellectual capital. These days many courses related to creative entrepreneurship are becoming broadly offered, and seem trendy since it has developed as an academic discipline. And this might be the reason why I’m now here, in London, to learn how to set myself up as self-employed in order to start my own business within the creative industry in the near future.
Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship is one of modules I’ve been studying at Kingston University, MA Creative Economy course. I’ve learned how to run my own business both in class and through real practicing experience with the team, FlowScarf. Now it is almost the end of the course and I would like to share my experience, which it is absolutely useful for my future goal, via this article. It can be said that starting a creative entrepreneur seems to be creating a new creative zone, make fun, make friends, and of course make money. What I’ve also found is it’s not what you extremely expert in a thing, but its kind of mixture of skills that you need courage to spend time and effort for it. The details will be described in the following parts.
Get cool ideas with friends
I’m pretty sure that many people have ideas to create something or want something to be created, but they never start. Actually, people should do just write it down or speak it out and build a prototype. Simply begin with drawing or mine mapping is so influential, image of ideas show the possibility of work. Start simply and develop the idea to create prototype, since we get a real prototype, we can decide this idea should be continued or not. The cheapest approach is to do the prototype yourself, and who know, it may be the best. One example is Claus Sadlier who made a triple-wall-insulated paper cup prototype from less than $1 on the materials. Existing paper cups, poster board, cardboard, glue and scissors from kitchen were used to create, then added value to his product. Now his company Vernalis and Insulair Inc. generates approximately $50 million in annual sales. (StartupNation, 2012)
Because people have different aptitudes, some good in design, management, accounting or selling skills, sharing these talents is to create opportunities for better things happen.
Since we prefer to work with something we are happy to do, minds and feeling will automatically work as a team to support us achieves our objective. Nevertheless, many times that product or service we would like to do for a business is too simple and has high competitors, adding value therefore becomes crucial in term of entrepreneurship. We can call in another word ‘branding’, which is described as a service or product that clients experience to have individual benefits beyond price and functional performance or a symbol serving to characterize your company from others. (Ahonen, 2008) Strong brands refer the sensation of familiarity and trust, low risk, and serve as the root for communication and commitment between individuals on one hand, customers and companies on the other. It can be in form of physical organization identity such as trademark, logo, display, style etc. and the history or storytelling of the company, which can depict business’s reputation.
Next step is carrying the value with you every time everywhere and distribute frequently through networking. According to Jeffrey H. Dyer, Hal B. Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen (2009), networking is one of innovator’s five discovery; associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. Apart from using network to sell company, to access resources or to boost careers, variety perspective that you can get from spending time and energy to sharing ideas via a network of diverse individuals is valuable. Conferences or festivals which combine together entrepreneurs, artists, politicians, academics, scientists, and thinkers from any part of the world, who come to spread new ideas, and projects such as Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED), Davos, and the Aspen Ideas Festival are useful in order to extend our knowledge domains.
One example of my best friend’s tiny business in Bangkok, Praewa Chirapravati Na Ayuthaya (2012), she graduated from faculty of fine and applied arts, Chulalongkorn University majoring Fashion Design. Her hobby is to do glitter tattoo for herself and friends, take a picture, and frequently post it on Instagram and Facebook. As technology is so empowering for people who create things especially the Internet, many young girls in Bangkok see and react quickly to what she’s made. Now she has invited to join many festivals to do her glitter tattoo for people who go to those festivals. Now we can visit her Facebook page on this link http://www.facebook.com/wibwabwub
In this case, technology also support directly in Public Relation. It provides more channels of distribution than ever in the past, which benefits to third party endorsement. Instead of spending big money for advertising, PR strategy is one of ‘must do’ strategies in order to cover large group of people.
Another important issue that makes entrepreneurs differ from artists and other creative people is they also concern about money. Therefore, crucial foundations of business including marketing and financing cannot be avoided, as they are parts of serious business.
Since marketing causes the strategy that motivates business communication, sales techniques and business developments, it is the method by which businesses design value for clients and make strong customer relationships. Marketing should cover clarity, consistency, competitiveness and credibility of business, which it influences entrepreneur to have crystal clear with segmenting, targeting and positioning. Especially doing market research to know your customer, Who are they? What they exactly want? What’s the trend of industry? Who are competitors? in order to deliver efficient service or product with appropriate pricing. According to Shaun Powell and Sean Ennis (2007), in order to survive, it is obvious that small sized businesses should operate as price takers rather than price setters for their offered services.
Considering about this kind of thing reminds me about another small business in my university in Bangkok. ‘Uncle Fruity’ is a name of a friendly middle age guy who sale ready to eat fruits by his green Vespa around each faculty of Chulalongkorn University. The strength of Uncle Fruity’s business is his fruits are packed purely and cold without ‘seed’. Imagine, cold tasty watermelon without seeds, how cool is that! It meets the need of his customer very well, as Thailand is a very hot country. He has crystal clear with target market and he knows what they exactly want. Moreover, his strategy of access to customer by his Vespa works very well since students don’t need to go anywhere. This might not be a good example for anyone who doesn’t know ‘Uncle Fruity’, but for all Chulalongkorn students, no one doesn’t know him. However, his business was finally able to support his children graduated from well-known University in Bangkok. In my opinion, ‘Uncle Fruity’ is still the legend.
Last but not least, according to my studying background in arts, thinking about mathematic has seemed so far from my ordinary life. But after I’ve tried to understand basic resources of finance for small business, my though has been changed. No matter what am I doing, I cannot refuse them anyway. Financial statements including balance sheet, profit and lost and cash flow allow entrepreneur to know accurately what they spend and earn in order to make a forecast of business. As same as a concept of break-even analysis which is that we try to determine a level of sales where revenue equals to costs or in another point of view it means profit is zero also. It is very useful once we would like to know where the safety point for running the business or new investment. (Richards, 2012) However, it is still difficult for me to clearly understand financial part of business, therefore, in the future of my serious business, I should have some one who experts with this issue in my company and I learn just to understand in order to avoid the cheating.
Reach the goal
In conclusion, in creative industry, design thinking becomes an important ingredient in entrepreneurship. Modern entrepreneurs should be ready to go out of comfort zone (https://kjit.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/out-from-comfort-zone-make-things-with-friends/) and build their own creative space, spend effort as much as spend passion and also concern about business management. In this case, I didn’t mention space as only physical space, but creative zone in my opinion is when entrepreneur build yourself up as a new business in the industry. Not exactly new business but it can be new just for some parts of business such as new target market (see Blue Ocean Strategy of Kim , and Mauborgne, 2004), new business model, new distribution, new marketing strategy etc. In other word, it’s not only to design new product, but also innovative process can be designed. Furthermore, what I’ve learned from Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship class is to allow myself up-to-date through technology especially social media; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress to gain benefit from networking and to keep the business into the trend.
Finally, I believe that all I’ve learned from class and from examples I’ve written about both in this article and every post in my blog will absolutely helpful to reach my goal in the near future. On one hand, my current small business of cloth shop ‘KJIT’ (http://www.facebook.com/kjitkjit) would be improved in corporate identity and financial part after I go back to my country, another is my new business, which it might be happened in the future. Nevertheless, there were many activities that first I felt unhappy to do for this class, it just because I have never done before, but when I can pass them, I realized that this is what good entrepreneur should face. Be professional in one aspect is not enough, creative entrepreneur should be actively to familiar with mixed skills that I already described on above.
Ahonen, M. 2008, ‘Branding – does it even exist among SMEs?’, Proceedings of the 16th Nordic Conference on Small Business Research, May 21st -23rd 2008, Tallinn, Estonia.
Chirapravati, P. 2012, http://www.facebook.com/wibwabwub, 18/05/2012.
Ennis, S. and Powell, S. (2007), ’Organisational marketing in the creative industries’, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Vol. 10 Iss: 4 pp. 375 – 389.
Nickell, J. 2011, ‘Never Stop Making’, news,
Richards, D. 2012, ‘How to Do a Breakeven Analysis’, Entrepreneur,
Tiewtrakul, K. 2012, http://www.kemkitisak.com/Kem/Home.html, 10/05/2012.