Designing a Creative Business can be easy, when you know how

‘Arts and Business are like oil and water’, some would say.

David Parrish sees it differently. He was once one that was proud to make no money to not belong to the “big bad economy”. He changed his mind and wrote books about it.

“Money can be quite useful” and “It is like Ying and Yang we need the best out of both worlds: creativity and commercial thinking”, he says at the beginning of his workshop on “Design your Creative Business”, which he held for young creative entrepreneurs. I had the privilege to join the workshop as part of my work placement at Islington Mill.
Islington Mill runs a culturally driven Launch Pad – a programme to support and invest in ideas that have the potential to become viable activities that contribute to Islington Mill’s strategy. Artists and creatives could apply to participate in the programme to get their business idea running. To start off Parrish explained the basic steps to set up a creative business successfully.

Is he a TEDtalker? It felt like a talk for a whole day : one inspiration after the other. Not to mention that I want to write my dissertation on businesses in the creative sector!
He manages to brake down important aspects of designing creative businesses into simple questions. There are four steps.

First we need to ask ourselves where we want to go – e.g. goal setting. It is to define success for ourselves, independently from others. That can also be reaching a desired financial result while having enough time for friends and family and does not necessarily have to be associated with profit.

The next step is about the current state: Where am I now?
Parrish does not like to use strength and weaknesses of the SWOT. He says all weaknesses can be strengths in specific circumstances. He prefers characteristics and breaks them down in People, Reputation, Intellectual property, Market information, Ethos, Finances, Agility, Collaborators, Talents = PRIMEFACT

Finally lunch. Listening and thinking made us hungry. While having a conversation with another participant that does not want to approach Parrish to not annoy him, I am recognising that there is a moment in which none is talking to him. Without overthinking it, I step up to him and explain my idea for thesis. He is very interested, offers help and wants to receive the final version before everyone else. I can not believe my ears.

After the break we continue with the third step, which implements analysing our surrounding in asking What’s going on out there?
He explains eight categories in which we can ask ourselves if there are possible opportunities or threats for the enterprise: Innovation, Competitors, Economics, Demographics, Regulations, Infrastructur, Partners, Social Trends = ICEDRIPS

The last step is to design the business formula.
Here it is to define which specific goods or services we want to offer in relation to competitors(!). Parrish says we need to invest in a product that we are better at than the other providers and sell these to a target group that are actually interested in it. It makes no sense to put all effort in marketing to everyone just to be busy, rather make an effort in the right direction.

Which products can we make that are representing our values but at the same time are on demand by the buyers?

Parrish’ ebook is available for free on the his website.

The article on “Create your own Business Formular” is also very helpful

“Nice to meet you Lena, we keep in touch about your dissertation”, he says in the end. And yes, when you Google his name, you can find some TEDtalks of him, of course about Cultural Entrepreneurship.