It’s time to think creatively about growth in the UK

WITH Britain said to be back in recession after four years of economic turmoil, it’s time we had a creative rethink.

A lot has been said about the need for an enterprise-led recovery – and you will find no greater champion of entrepreneurship than me. Small and young businesses are the backbone of our economy, the proven wealth creators who hold our nation’s fate in their hands.

But in our quest to forge a nation of enterprise, let’s not forget our creative heritage. Britain is a cultural powerhouse and its creative industries can hold the key to recovery.

Just look at the facts. London alone has over 30,000 live music performances a year, nearly twice as many bookshops as New York and more museums than Paris. Our creative businesses account for an estimated 5 per cent of all companies – and in 2009 these companies contributed 2.9 per cent of the UK’s Gross Value Added, employed 1.5m people and exported a remarkable 10.6 per cent of the UK’s services.

But let’s be clear – it’s not all museums and art galleries.

Take This is Your Kingdom (www.thisisyourkingdom.co.uk), a business I’ve been lucky enough to work with through our School for Creative Startups. A niche lifestyle website and insider’s guide to what’s going on around the country, its founders Hannah Needham and Rebecca Gaunt are perfect examples of the creative entrepreneurs who are following their passion – and trying to make some money while doing it.

We need to give those like Hannah and Rebecca the skills to turn their dreams into a reality. As the central funding of arts becomes ever more constrained, these creative start-ups need to be equipped with the know-how to make their ventures commercially viable and self-sufficient.

This is what we are trying to do with our new course, Creative Country Business. It will attempt to fuse creativity and enterprise by lending practical business expertise to those who want to make a living from what they love.

It’s worth remembering that the two fields aren’t so very different. Entrepreneurship is an inherently creative business – at the heart of every new venture is an idea, a belief that your way of doing things is the best way. Entrepreneurs are not dissimilar to artists and visionaries who thrive on risk and pioneer new ways of thinking and doing.

If we can nurture the enthusiasm and energy of this country’s creative talent and put them on the right track to give their business every chance of success, not only will we bolster our international standing as a provider of first-class culture, but we can help get our economy growing again.

Creatives make change happen. We just need to give them the skills to do it.

To book your place on Doug’s Creative Country Business course, visit: www.creativecountrybusiness.com/book