Creatives admit to lacking business nous

Coming up with great ideas and meeting the client brief have emerged as the top two qualities of the UK’s creative companies – in stark contrast to their business and financial acumen, a sector survey shows.

In a survey of 100 creative industry leaders who are UK-based, more than half (58 per cent) of the respondents said that their business, typically in the advertising, digital, film, TV or gaming sectors, “excels” at servicing clients.

An even stronger vote of self-confidence emerged in terms of idea-generation, with 59 per cent of the executives saying that their creative nous was their best asset when doing business in the UK.

But when asked about their commercial skills, the creatives wobbled. In fact, only a fifth of the respondents feel that they excel in business and financial forecasting, positioning such areas as their weakest.

Perhaps more worryingly, if given the chance to have the support of a business figure to mentor them or their business, just 10 per cent would make the first question they ask, ‘how can I improve financial planning.’

Jon Kingsbury, a director at innovation group Nesta, which commissioned the survey, spoke of a pressing need for such business owners to “balance creativity with business and financial imperatives.”

To this end, the group will soon begin matching 30 creative industry leaders to mentors as part of a dedicated programme to ensure such ideas-led and client-focussed professionals can “realise their full potential” in their commercial environment.

Alex Graham, who will coach creatives in the Creative Business Mentor Network programme, which is open for applications until September 13th, reflected: “All you need to get started running your own business is a great idea that someone wants to buy.

“However, the hard part comes after that initial success when you have to add people to the payroll and expenses to the profit and loss account.”

Seeming to confirm that mentors can be the way to go, more than half of the creative executives quizzed in August who had been coached or supported by a business professional said they would like to repeat the experience.

However the mentors might have their work cut out for them, as less than a third of the respondents said they were adept at new business development, reinforcing the impression of ‘creativity over the bottom-line,’ Nesta said.


5th September 2012

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