In January 2012, I did not have sufficient professional experience and believed that by studying a postgraduate course will enable me to attain diverse skills and knowledge. I accepted to do the MA Museums and Galleries, and the Creative Economy, as I thought that by gaining knowledge from both areas, museums and the creative industries, would be highly beneficial for a future career. The Museum and Galleries course expanded my interest in art institutions; taught me how art organisations are operated, how they stay connected to the community and visitors, and how to use scenario planning to predict uncertain scenarios and events. The Creative Economy course taught me about creativity and innovation, creative leadership and management, how to be an entrepreneur, the importance of leadership and managing creativity and innovation, how to start a small business and among many others. This two-course master’s has given me the opportunity to gain practical knowledge and experience that will hopefully benefit my future career in the creative industries, either a position in a Museum or in a Cultural District.
Before deciding what Master’s to accept, I had little knowledge on what entrepreneurship entailed and I only had a vague understanding what an entrepreneur was. Interestingly, it is argued that by learning entrepreneurship at school did not necessarily result to the fact that entrepreneurs will be more successful than those who did not study entrepreneurship (Ronstadt, 1990: p.69). The main appeal for doing this particular Master’s course was that I was given a chance to not only learn about entrepreneurship but also be given the opportunity to practice being an entrepreneur. The idea of forming a company and to function as a small business was nerve racking and also fascinating at the same time. However, not all people believe that entrepreneurship can be a career for others it is just a temporary career or project (Ronstadt, 1990: p.75). As this entrepreneurial experience was just part of the Master’s course I do not think I will pursue an entrepreneurial career. However, perhaps in the future I will want to start a small business of my own and then I will be able to apply what I learnt during my 8 months with Blue Glimpse.
For my leadership assignment I designed a future high school class timetable where I replaced boring traditional classes to creative and practical life skill classes, for example I included an entrepreneurship class. I was inspired by a speaker on Ted Talk, who was promoting the notion of educating entrepreneurship skills to children as early as possible (Herold, 2010, Video). I am a true believer of entrepreneurship being taught in schools. These important skills will give children the confidence to be creative and innovative when finding solutions to problems, teach them to fail, and give them the skills to tell a story. Overall, I am highly grateful to of had the opportunity to gain and put into practice useful entrepreneurial skills over the last 8 months.
Blue Glimpse is a start-up company running under the Young Enterprise programme, as part of the MA The Creative Economy. Blue Glimpse consists of four team members, including Celia Small, Manager, Karin Szerencsits, Head of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hearson, Finance Director and I was the Operations and HR Manager. Each role was considered important, however by being the manager there were a number of important leadership traits that Celia needed to implement. For example, the various traits leaders were expected to acquire included the ability to motivate people, evaluate, reward, and show support (Reiter-Palmon and Illies 2004). Being the Manager, Celia had the responsibility of being our leader and successfully managed to keep us motivated, rewarded us by suggesting non-business social events to attend, and supported our opinions and our input.
So, how did we get together to form Blue Glimpse? Celia, Sean and Karin were Advertising MA students and invited me to join their team to become a young enterprise company. In the beginning, we were excited and eager to start the business together. On the other hand, if we had to repeat the course we would of socialised with our fellow master’s students more thoroughly to discover people’s experiences and backgrounds. This process of forming teams would have been ideal for the whole class, since some students were forced into groups and some were formed by friendship. Ideally, in the real business world employers do not get to choose who they work with. It is also suggested that teamwork is highly important as it encourages people from different skill sets, knowledge, and experiences to work together. Teamwork is beneficial to the success of a business (Leung, 2013: p.4). As Blue Glimpse consisted of only four team members, teamwork was a vital work policy. In any business teamwork is an important work policy as it encourages the sharing of knowledge, experiences, and ideas. It is thought that positive teamwork ethics gives team members a positive key position and voice within the team (Dasgupta and Gupta, 2009: p. 207). Personally, the whole company experience has been a learning curve, however I would argue that our product has been quite successful as Blue Glimpse has managed to sell 200 Jabels. Furthermore, Blue Glimpse has won two awards, such as the Bright Ideas 250 award and Best Product Pitch at the final Young Enterprise trade fair and awards ceremony. Blue Glimpse also had the privilege to meet the Prime Minister’s advisor on enterprise, where we had the opportunity to promote our business, our product, and our entrepreneurship in practice module. At trade fairs we were interviewed and photos were taken of our stall and company, which lead to our exposure in Newspapers and online News articles. Most importantly, the success of our business is a result to the collective success of the team. On the contrary, it is assumed that it is not ideal for creative people to work alongside other creative people (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013). Fortunately, Blue Glimpse did not have this problem as over the 8 months we have worked well as a team and have respected and supported each others input and opinions. Each Blue Glimpse team member was part of the decision-making, which gave each of us an assertive role and voice within the company. Blue Glimpse was a strong believer of working in flexible and stress-free working environments (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013). Our main office was in Celia Small’s family kitchen, which meant that our office meetings were in a comfortable environment. Our meetings outside the office would be located at various restaurants and cafes including Byron burger and Starbucks.
Our Design Thinking module taught us that the best way of coming up with a product is to find a problem in society first. Once you find a problem you need to find a solution, which is the product or service. After a few days of observing the public and searching for problems, we had a meeting and it was Sean who suggested that we design a product that will help people to stop throwing wasteful amounts of food away. Sean identified the problem of people constantly throwing away half empty jars as a result to people not keeping in track with their food products expiry dates. People were also forgetting when they had opened certain food products and what the content was in containers in the fridge. We all agreed that this was our problem and the next step was to come up with a solution, our product. After a few sessions of brainstorming ideas Blue Glimpse came up with Jabels, which are reusable labels that allow the customer to manage their food products more efficiently. The Jabels are made out of silicon rubber, they are sustainable, and there is a slight stretch to them. Jabels fit around various sized jars and also a range of small tupperware boxes and they are freezer and dishwasher proof. What makes Jabels unique and different to its competitors is that customers can write on the surface with a white board marker pen and simply wipe the text off with a cloth and water. Jabels help customers avoid wasting their food by labelling jars and tupperware boxes with dates of expiry or the dates of when the container was opened, which also allows customers to keep a track of their food. It is believed that a good design has ten recommended qualities (Riley, 2013), and out of these qualities Blue Glimpse believes that the Jabels design is innovative, makes a product useful, aesthetic, makes a product understandable, honest, long-lasting, thorough, and as little design as possible.
Marketing and Communication
Jabels were mainly sold at the trade fairs we attended this year, such as Kingston University and Kingston Market Square, as well as strong personal selling to friends and family. It is commonly thought that word of mouth is time-consuming and today facebook and twitter are more efficient as one can quickly upload news to vast amounts of friends instantly (Qualman, 2013: 1). Karin also set up an online store on our Blue Glimpse website where customers where able to order Jabels via email. Unfortunately, it is uncertain how many people visited our website and no one contacted us to buy products. We have a facebook page, which we knew was not going to generate any selling of Jabels but it would help publicise our company’s journey, recent activities, and achievements. We were talking about making a video advert and having it posted on Youtube. We thought that it would be fun to create but we decided it was not a necessary marketing tool as it would not reach our target audience. We created a twitter account but found it difficult to remember to constantly tweet updates. The team also thought Jabels targeted audience were not twitter enthusiasts. At trade fairs we handed out flyers to our customers and anyone else interested in our products. I was quite surprised that most customers asked if we had business cards. I thought business cards would have been a beneficial move for the company but the rest of the team disagreed, so our card designs were never produced. The biggest benefit of social media that is has global qualities that enable users to remain connected and reconnect with people who are all over the world (Qualman, 2013: 2). On the other hand, some argue that facebook is not necessary for small businesses due to the fact that even if a business facebook page gets roughly 5,000 likes, this only means that only 1% to 5% of the visitors will receive, on their feed page, the businesses updates posted. Businesses will then have to pay facebook from £3.00 to £198.00 in order to enable their posts to reach roughly between 500 to 50,000 people (Dekel, 2013). Perhaps, if Blue Glimpse decides to continue running the business then the team will have to decide on either to continue with facebook or to delete it. Personally, I think a facebook business page is unnecessary.
Blue Glimpse’s Regrets
“Fail, Fail Again, Fail better” Beckett, S.
The main regret Blue Glimpse has is with our target audience research, we should have listened to what our first Dragon Den judges told us. Since the beginning we were targeting the wrong customers. As a team we did not research our target audience thoroughly, we sent out surveys and found that it was the older generation and mostly females that were going to use our Jabels. It is thought that the businesses that have a correct understanding of their target audiences develops faster and more efficiently than those who do not know their target audience properly (Dizik, 2013). Clearly, knowing your target audience is one of the key factors to a successful business. Furthermore, it is believed that there is ten major questions businesses need to ask before determining their target audience (Dizik, 2013). Moreover, if Blue Glimpse were to repeat the experience again the main questions we would ask ourselves before determining our target audience will be who would pay for my product or service? Am I overestimating my reach? What does my network think? Are we making assumptions based on our personal knowledge and experiences? How will we sell our product? How will we find our customers? And is there room to expand our target audience? I believe that if we had asked these questions before deciding on a target audience then Blue Glimpse could of targeted the correct audience and could have been more successful.
We mainly focused on jar food products such as jams and condiments but soon realised from our trade fair customers that people are more likely to buy our products if we offered a range of different sized Jabels to fit around larger tupperware and jars. It occurred to us that more and more people are cooking their own food and putting their leftovers in tupperware and putting them into the fridge or freezer. I believe that if Blue Glimpse had produced larger Jabels as well as the original standard sized Jabels we would have been able to sell more products.
The End Is Nigh
We survived our final Dragon’s Den session and have now sold all of our products, unfortunately we did not win to go to the National competition but we have enjoyed running a small business. We are extremely proud of our company and our product and believe that there is a need for Jabels. At the moment, it is undecided if Blue Glimpse and Jabels will be continuing. If we were to continue our business we will look into a more environmentally friendly material that will be recyclable, expand our product to multiple colours, contact manufacturers to inquire if we could produce a range of different sizes, and start targeting our correct target audience of first time parents and people with babies. Overall, I have learnt many skills and gained memorable experiences from this project including teamwork, co-creation, creative management and leadership, sales skills, and presentation competence.
Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2013) Seven Rules for Managing Creative-But-Difficult People, Harvard Business Review, Weblog, (Online), 2 April 2013, Available at: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/04/seven_rules_for_managing_creat.html?utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Tweet&utm_campaign=Socialflow Accessed 13 May 2013
Dasgupta, M. and Gupta, K. R. (2009) Innovation in Organizations: A Review of the Role of Organization Learning and Knowledge Management, Global Business Review, (Online) Vol. 10 No. 2, p. 207, Available at: http://gbr.sagepub.com/content/10/2/203.full.pdf+html Accessed 23 May 2013
Dekel, E. (2013) Facebook Pages Are a Bad Investment for Small Businesses, Forbes, (Online), 22 January 2013, Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/elandekel/2013/01/22/facebook-pages-are-a-bad-investment-for-small-businesses/ Accessed 24 May 2013
Dizik, A. (2013) 10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market, Entrepreneur, (Online), 15 April 2013, Available at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226360 Accessed 13 May 2013
Herold, C. (2010) Cameron Herold: Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs, TedTalks, (Video), June 2010, Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_herold_let_s_raise_kids_to_be_entrepreneurs.html, Accessed 24 May 2013
Leung, M. M. (2013) Managing Creativity and Innovation, MA The Creative Economy, Kingston University, Essay, p.1-11
Reiter-Palmon, R. and Illies, J. J. (2004) Leadership and creativity: Understanding leadership from a creative problem-solving perspective, The Leadership Quarterly 15, p. 56-57
Riley, W. (2013) Startups this is how design works, Available at: http://startupsthisishowdesignworks.com/ Accessed 24 May
Ronstadt, R. (1990) The Educated Entrepreneurs: A New Era of Entrepreneurial Education Is Beginning, Chapter 5 in Kent, C. Entrepreneurship education: current developments, future directions, Greenwood Publishing Group, p.69 -75
Qualman, E. (2013) Sociolnomics: how social media transforms the way we live and do business, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Second Edition, p.1-2