Looking Ahead Strategically

Looking ahead strategically means growing your creative business in the right way by anticipating threats and opportunities.

As creative enterprises develop, more opportunities emerge, so it seems that the logical thing to do is to ‘grow the business’. But what does growth mean, exactly? Usually people mean that sales increase and consequently the number of people employed grows too. But what about profit? It doesn’t automatically follow that more sales means more profit, because expenditure may be growing even faster. ‘Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’, as the saying goes, reminding us that whilst additional sales are alluring, what’s more important is profitability and financial viability. Maybe the pursuit of ‘growth’ should focus not just on ‘sales at any cost’ but also on overall financial performance.

The issue of sales, costs and profitability is intimately connected to the management of cash. Expanding businesses face the real danger of overtrading, in other words, ‘biting off more than they can chew’ in financial terms. It’s tempting to increase fixed costs (premises, employees) even when income is fluctuating and unpredictable, which creates difficulties in managing cash flow. Bigger businesses generally need more working capital and problems with cashflow will grow with the business, making insolvency more likely unless additional cash is injected into the enterprise. Most businesses fail by simply running out of cash – and this applies to creative enterprises too. So business expansion isn’t just a matter of working harder to produce more to satisfy more customers – it needs careful cash planning as well.

Business growth usually requires additional finance, which can be provided by loans or equity investments (or both). Attracting investors means offering a share of the business (if it is a company limited by shares) and that results in some loss of ownership and control of the enterprise. Investors may bring more to the table, such as expertise, experience and contacts, as well as their cash, but their involvement and the  associated adjustment to the balance of power at board level can be uncomfortable. If autonomy is a key element of the creative entrepreneur’s definition of success, this is a crucial matter.

Taking on employees involves financial and legal responsibilities and the creative entrepreneur finds that she is now expected to be a manager and leader as well as a designer, musician, performer, photographer or artist. Business Link and local creative enterprise support agencies can help with employment matters and HM Revenue and Customs will provide information for employers.

International growth, either by simply selling overseas or even setting up in business abroad, is exciting and glamorous, bringing with it opportunities for joint ventures and creative collaborations. But it also brings its own complications: fluctuating currencies, customs regulations, language barriers and different ‘business etiquette’ in foreign cultures all help to make international business both complex and fascinating. Help and advice is available through a range of services offered by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) for creative enterprises developing their businesses beyond the UK.

Before launching into business expansion, creative entrepreneurs need to be guided by their own personal definition of success. This is often a mixture of creative freedom, financial reward, peer respect, autonomy, and other elements. Business expansion can sometimes lead to the ‘wrong kind of success’, in other words an apparent success which does not in fact fulfil the personal objectives of the owner. (One of my clients was very successful in financial terms but felt trapped by the business he had created around him, which involved spending most of his time managing employees, clients and cashflow at the expense of his own creative work.)

Management guru Charles Handy asks how should a symphony orchestra ‘grow’? By adding more and more musicians (in an attempt to mimic an industrial model of business)? Or should growth be measured in other ways instead – by reaching higher standards of performance, attracting world-class musicians, embracing more challenging work, and connecting with new audiences?

In conclusion, as you grow your creative enterprise, grow the right things, for the right reasons, in order to achieve your own definition of success as a unique creative entrepreneur.


There is more information about looking ahead strategically in David’s books, other publications, videos and free resources.

looking ahead strategically

looking ahead strategically

David Parrish inspires and empowers creative entrepreneurs world-wide as an international creative industries speaker, consultant, trainer and author.

Business Adviser – Creative and Digital Industries

Creative and digital businesses grow with the help of David’s expertise in creative entrepreneurship. He shares his expertise through his speeches, training workshops, coaching and books on business growth.

David advises businesses on strategic development, marketing, leadership and growth in his capacity as a qualified and experienced business adviser and management consultant, working world-wide.

He helps clients by drawing on his own direct experience as an entrepreneur as well as his work helping hundreds of creative, digital, cultural and arts businesses around the world. His direct experience is backed up by academic qualifications and professional accreditations in business strategy, marketing and leadership. He is a Chartered Institute of Marketing ‘Chartered Marketer’. David has an MBA (with distinction). In addition, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (FInstLM). He is also honoured to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

David is a UK expert and international creative industries speaker. He has helped hundreds of businesses in more than 50 countries to achieve greater success on their own terms. This is achieved by using smart business development techniques that fit with their creativity, ambitions and values. His creative industries consulting focuses on the needs of creative industries businesses, cultural enterprises and arts organisations.

Successful creative enterprises integrate creativity and business. David’s T-Shirts and Suits® approach helps creative people (‘T-Shirts’) use smart business thinking (‘Suits’). His entertaining and inspirational speeches illustrate ways in which businesses can use creative business models and powerful business techniques to achieve greater success. His creative industries consulting with individual businesses guides them to success by combining their creative passion, strengths and goals with a winning business strategy tailored to their own needs, values and circumstances.

Creative Business Books, eBooks and Audiobooks

David has written two books and several other publications especially for creative businesses. He brings his own experience of setting up and growing businesses in the creative and cultural industries. David is actively involved in the creative and digital industries as a company director and management consultant. He also shares the learning he has gained from working with hundreds of successful creative enterprises around the world. His books are available in paperback, eBook and Audiobook formats. They have been translated into several languages and published in various countries in several continents.

What they say about David Parrish…

Here are a few examples of what people say about David Parrish. His clients worldwide say how they have benefited from David’s creative industries keynote speeches. They also recommend his business advice, training, presentations, lectures and books:

“It was a pleasure to invite David to give the keynote speech at the Third International Creative Industries Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. His speech about ‘Creative Business in the Digital Economy’ was enlightening. It was ideal for our audience that included startups, government officials, investors and agencies from Serbia and other countries. David’s speech was also broadcast on TV to reach an even wider audience. We were delighted with the positive impact that David made on the creative industries here in Serbia.”
Tatjana Kalezic. Creative Industries Cluster of Vojvodina KVIK.
http://www.kvik.rs

“The choice to work with David was definitely the right one. In less than two days time we had crafted a cohesive short term and long term strategy that provides for desired growth, protects our IP, enables investment, and allows us to retain creative control of our technology. David’s ability to listen to your situation, to understand it, and then determine a course of action based on your specific needs and goals is rare and a makes David a joy to work with.”
– Aric Wanveer. Zero Gravity Creations LLC, Baltimore, USA

“David Parrish was a special guest of Creative Industries Summer School held in Moscow. Creative entrepreneurs from all over Russia said that David’s presentation was very inspiring, entertaining and very useful for them. His presentation “Creativity and Business: How to Succeed as a Creative Entrepreneur” was amazing and I am sure it will help develop creative entrepreneurship in Russia. David is a very bright and powerful expert.”
– Olga Kizina. Director. Creative Industries Agency. Moscow. Russia.

“Workshop participants were very impressed and inspired by David’s speech and book because he avoided using jargon, gave clear illustrations to describe what creative business is about and explained the general principles of running a creative business. He talked about some important issues, such as intellectual property, business formulas, knowing your competitors, knowing your market, and being prepared to say No.”
– HsinYi Ku. British Council, Taiwan

“David writes about creative business better than anyone I know.”

– Wayne Morris. The Creative Edge. New Zealand.

“David Parrish is a very inspirational speaker. The way he illustrates his points is excellent. He makes you laugh and instantly you start to think about your own ideas and projects.”
– Eli Folkestadaas. British-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce. Oslo, Norway.

Read more testimonials about David’s work as an international creative industries speaker, consultant, adviser, trainer and author of two books, other publications and many articles.


David Parrish international creative industries speaker, creative economy expert and author

David Parrish. (Photo: Cristina Poncu)

David’s Background, Experience and Expertise

Dave Parrish has been directly involved in the creative economy and cultural economy for more than 20 years, as an entrepreneur, manager, company director, management consultant, business adviser, coach, mentor, trainer, writer, and international creative industries speaker. For an insight into his personal background, business experience, values and his own perspective on creativity and business, read his story.