ENTREPRENEURS by definition have never been fond of following a plan. But today, our economy needs a plan for growth, and a good place to start is the UK’s creative startup sector.
The creative industries contribute £59.2bn to the UK economy and provide 2.3m jobs. They have a higher share of GDP in the UK than in any other developed country and account for 5.6 per cent of the economy.
But for growth’s sake we must be more than just a voice of support to these industries. The fact is, the wealth of Britain is by and large created by a small group of people – the entrepreneurs. And not just by any entrepreneur: it is young businesses that create most of the revenue.
The young creative startups with the potential to scale are the change makers that not only create jobs, but they have the ability to make things better or faster for the rest of us.
Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the GDP of this country by supercharging these new creative businesses, from film and TV, to fashion, design and digital.
Creativity cannot be taught, but thankfully, there is no shortage of that in the UK. On the other hand, entrepreneurship is a teachable skill that should be learned.
The firms that make up this economic powerhouse often need help in the form of practical business skills to ensure that their businesses are given every chance for success.
In their first year, most start-ups don’t have a clue what they’re doing; I should know because I was one. So for every new firm, from post-production startups to marketing agencies, these visionaries must be taught to wrap business skills around their passion and talent.
The time is now for mentors to step up to the plate. Startups will always benefit by surrounding themselves with advisers, from the functional, like lawyers, bankers and accountants, to experienced entrepreneurs from within their creative sub-sector.
The School for Creative Startups launched last week at the Hospital Club in partnership with the City of Westminster and it aims to help 100 London-based creatives across all sectors. The course will arm creative entrepreneurs with the business nous required to survive that all-important first year and give them access to a pool of mentors to call in times of trouble.
A continuity of support in this way will help businesses create a sustainable business model and get the business trading and succeeding. Still, after the year of support that we can give them, there are things that still must be provided externally.
The obstacles to starting a business within the creative industries in particular are unique – they often need physical space, like the foundries and refectory space that often make overheads escalate.
Support can be provided in the form of gifted low cost working space as well as government-led initiatives like trade missions. The availability of finance in this country for early stage activity is also a pertinent need for most startups.
If we support the young companies in this sector, with its enormous potential for innovation, job and wealth creation, we will soon be able to create brilliant brands for London, like the next Paul Smith or Saatchi & Saatchi.
From architecture startups to web design businesses, we must take action to remove the obstacles in the way of their success.
To paraphrase, the future is bright but it means backing and supporting the young businesses that help to boost growth.
Doug Richard is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of School for Startups. Follow him on twitter at @dougrichard