Thursday, January 26, 2006

Creative Entrepreneurs from Creative Students

Well it's the day after what proved to be a pretty successful event. Antonio Gould one of our panellists and Director of 3form a local Internet company has posted this very positive account of the day on his newish blog. Overall I found the occasion very positive with some clear next steps for how as a community of interest we might all start working together i,e those folks with an interest in educating creatives in enterprise. For me there was a whole host of new ideas that came out of the event and really by way of reminding myself here is a bullet list of future posts I will attempt to write from things that came up from the day:

1. Do creative people learn differently? Or is just that they are taught differently?
2. What can Business Schools learn from Arts Schools in terms of experiential learning for future entrepreneurs: i.e brief, self management, critique
3. With the increasing lack of failure in HE (i.e no one fails anything anymore) is being a student detrimental to developing your enterprising abilities. (i.e failure, coping with failure/rejection is part and parcel of the real world for creative Industries).

There are many more but I will try to get back to these soon. There will also be a longer and more comprehensive breakdown of the conference coming soon/tomorrow.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Are creative people entrepreneurs? 1st attempt

Here I am making a brief examination of how the four or was it five? aforementioned characteristics of entrepreneurship fit with the profile of creative industries people.

Entrepreneurs are prepared to take risks

This got me thinking. Are all folks that go through creative industry type courses* entrepreneurs? Based on the highly competitive fields that we are training people for aren't those creative individuals taking a risk on their own talent, future employment, financial and not to mention emotional well-being (i.e if it doesn't work out and it doesn't always). Do they make an investment in their talent and hope it pays dividends?

The Entrepreneur manages resources, knowledge and power (as opposed to being an employee and having those things managed by other people)

Levels of self-employment within the creative sector are very high. In some sectors as many as 80%* of individuals are self-employed. With over 42%* of creative industry graduates having had some level of self-employment in the first five years of graduating.

Doesn't sound like employee material to me ..although note to self :- must remember to ask esteemed colleague about entrepreneurship through necessity, survival...When that is the only employment option!

They are in pursuit of profit (although this may come in the form of something other than money) but lead us to question how do we measure 'other' types of profit?
Now this is a strange one, you see and this is anecdotal, from my own experience and backed up by a series of recent interviews. The motivations for people within these sectors are often around full-filling a creative need, not being an employee, not selling out or giving up, doing a better design, building a bigger profile, being 'known' for being good at what they do. The motivation is never cited as being financial although all recognise that this is a requirement of staying in business and continuing to do what they want to do. In terms of this profiting them I need to think about this one.

Personal satisfaction is a major motivator
As above - this is a major motivational factor in this sector and a major reason for folks pursuing the self-employment route.

Their relationship to opportunity: they tend to either seek it, create it or recognise it and presumably exploit it!
In a recent piece of research I was involved in, that looked at social inclusion in the creative industries, one of the major barriers to beneficiaries (individuals who took part in the project) becoming or sustaining self-employment was there inability to do any of the above, sometimes these were the most talented individuals but there inability to exploit, recognise, or pursue opportunities set them apart from others. There maybe many reasons for this but what it did identify was that in this sector where talent is at such a high premium without the opportunity its not worth having. Incidentally the groups who were targeted for that piece of research were from communities who were vastly under-represented in the creative industries and had even lower levels of self-employment.

* I will dig out the references for these stats, mainly from the Destinations and Reflections report (1999)

Friday, January 20, 2006

5 days to go!

Ladies and Gentlemen there are now just 5 days until the Creative enterprise event I and some colleagues from our faculty of Art and Design are organising. I will be feeding back shortly afterwards, We have had an overwhelming response from potential delegates and have filled (if they all turn up) each of the Custard Factory theatres seats and a reserve list of 20! This will be a busy day and very timely with the recent publishing of the Cox Review which will undoubtedly get some airplay next Wednesday. This review is definitly worth a read, especially as the role of higher education in promoting creativity and enterprise is heavily featured.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Questions answered? sort of

The other evening, following a long day at work, I and some fellow colleagues trundled down the corridors and passageways of our building to attend a workshop lead by our esteemed colleague and widely acknowledged expert on the subject of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Dr Harry Matlay, Professor of Small Business and Enterprise Development. What followed proved to be a highly entertaining and even a little challenging dipping of the toes into the often complex world of entrepreneurship theory (?)

In this post I will just cover the event, as I saw it (I would like to say for the record that this is my interpretation and the messages I took from it), what happened etc and in a later post I hope to apply some of the stuff that was spoken about and hazard some observations as to how it fits with the Creative Industries sector.

The event was aptly named 'What is Entrepreneurship?' couldn't have come at a better time for me (see earlier post 'entrepre-what?' post) as this has been a question arising again and again since I got involved in this whole creative enterprise gig.

So here's where we got to, it's worth saying that, and Harry eluded to this, that we were somewhat covering the basics and like so many things with every answer came more questions, the answers of which are apparently being saved for a future event.

This was very much a participatory event and throughout we were asked to question our perceptions of what constitutes an entrepreneur:
Is Entrepreneurship about: Risk, state of mind, profit?

Harry went on to describe some 'Rules' of entrepreneurship at all times questioning our understanding against his and acknowledging that there are many opposing views as to what entrepreneurial traits are. But apparently entrepreneurs amongst other things tend to exhibit the following:

- Entrepreneurs are prepared to take risks
- The Entrepreneur manages resources, knowledge and power (as opposed to being an employee and having those things managed by other people)
- They are in pursuit of profit (although this may come in the form of something other than money and lead us to question how do we measure 'other' types of profit? – a point I will be re-visiting)
- Personal satisfaction is a major motivator
- Their relationship to opportunity: they tend to either: seek it, create it or recognise it and presumably exploit it

With a lively audience there was plenty of debate and disagreement around each of these issues and plenty of food for thought for me about the relationship between these attributes and folks from our sector. Accompanying this workshop was a thoroughly researched, well written and apparently award winning paper by Dr Matlay entitled: Researching entrepreneurship and education Part 1: what is entrepreneurship and does it matter? This paper offered up many more potential posts for this blog so watch this space!