Reflecting the Semester

The phrase time flies by when you are having fun really took action in this semester. It’s been 4 months and I definitely could say I have changed. Coming here was a nerve racking experience for me. I will admit that I was happy back in the States. I had an amazing assisting freelance career with inspiring photographers, beautiful places to live, great friends, loving family, the most adorable puppies and yet I could tell I was hungry for something more. That hunger led me to ask what is it that I want for myself. I eventually came to the conclusion that I wanted to learn the business side. Looking worldwide in places that I had a connection to, I found Kingston, and oh boy did I nail it. Not only is the school incredible, but I have found an amazing connection and respect for my professors and classmates. Such innovation and desire for knowledge cannot be summed up in one blog, but I will try.

As any year starts, we are given a task to bring before class. This was watching The Founder movie about McDonalds and to create a Business Model based on the movie. I guess you might say the easy part was watching the Founder because a Business Model was a new thing to me. What is it? Why in the world would someone use it? How does it help a business? I read in the Business Model Generation book, “A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value” (2010, p.14).I understood that business models create a firm understanding of the different sectors of your new or existing business. You can analyze what value propositionis brought to the customers. What do the customers need?The chart itself maps a connection between all from the customer segmentation, channels of getting your product known, key partners to help make your business come alive, and the financial stability of cost and revenue.

I practiced by creating business models based on the movie The Founder, a café which I knew was struggling a bit with the customer segmentation and revenue in my home town, and a studio that I once worked for. I left the class understanding that I would need to see the value in my own business one day using an organized chart like this. However, I had a long way to go because, I wasn’t even sure what I was getting myself into by becoming a lean start-up. Since our New Venture is will have its ups and downs, we as individuals will need to make sure we understand what starting a business really will be like. The CB Insights of the top 20 reasons start ups fail was a bit shocking and at the same time felt rather obvious. There were reasons such as “Lose Focus” or “Legal Challenges” which seems to be symptoms of a failing business strategy, which is why to me that seemed obvious. However, what I was not expecting were “Failure to Pivot,” “Need/Lack of Business Model” and at the top at 42% was “No Market Need.” The strategy to focus on the needs of customers is the most difficult challenge because, what are those needs? People change their minds quickly, so you need to take constant action of learning and empathizing with your targeted audience.

As a class we were starting to get the groove of the basics, we were introduced to multiple guest speakers and our grasp on the material was improving. The module’s first valuable guest speaker introduced entrepreneurial financeswhich can be a bit confusing. Luckily, we were introduced to Simon Hulme, who is a business angel and more.

What in the world is a business angel?

A Business angel is a person who guides an early starting business/ lean start up with financial support. In class we reviewed what is put into a P&L statement, Gross Profits, Top Down Pricing vs Bottom Up Pricing, Cash Flow Charts, and Balancing Sheets. There were individual terms that would help up in our business finance plan such as VAT (Value Added Tax). As we reviewed in the class “If you already have a business, you should be very familiar with it.  If you are a student, or have limited commercial experience, it can be quite hard to grasp” (Simon, 2018). Since this class was broken up into two days and each being in two parts, we were not only introduced to the information but applied it as well. Simon would give us examples to work on to have a hands-on approach to such a difficult topic.

Buzzwords to keep in mind; Happy Vs Comfortable

As recommended by Janja Song (our everything professor), I started reading articles from business websites such as The Guardian. I came to Kingston being advised that the program Managing in the Creative Economy was one of the most difficult courses. During the semester, not only are your reading and learning but you are taking action with a hands-on approach as well. I read an article that came out only days before we were introduced to a new game for class, “Mental stimulation from games, puzzles, reading, and conversations is associated with better memory […]” (Small, The Guardian, 2018).  This couldn’t have been published at a more perfect time, as I was being introduced to the Business Strategy Game (BSG)with my peers. There were 4 teams of 3 and we all had different approaches to our business. Explained more in the BSG Blog, there was a motivation to find a strategy for our business. Since I myself have not really thought of strategywe as a team looked at examples. After the first year of not really specifying a good strategy, we pivoted and took on a bit wider approach to not just focus on quality, but to balance price and everything else as well.

On our last days we presented our final Business. We excitingly tied for first place, but that is something as a class we only mentioned because we did see it as a game. As a class we were able to hear from everybody’s perspectives of if they were risky (why?), cautious (why?), and had a strategy (What?). As our judges pointed out, we were very logical, dipping our toes in a bit of all to create a nice balance.

As a photographer, I had a great appreciation for Intellectual Property Rights. Everyday I watermarked my pieces and worry about copyrights in the world of technology. However, the main reason someone like me is fearful of IP is that I didn’t understand what is the different in trademarks, copyrights, patents and other ways to protect yourself. Naomi Korn laid out all the different definitions and connected it to our personal works during these sessions, especially relating it to the design startup we are all working so hard on. I was a bit surprised how many difference categories of copyrights there are; Music, Film, Broadcast, Typography, Artistic Work, Dramatic, Literary, and Sound casting. As a photographer I initially know I am in the artistic work, but if I was to create a business I might be in multiple of the categories.

Communication is a key tool for advertising. In teams we were to create 5-minute presentations with only about a half an hour to prepare to give examples of the differences in advertising techniques. This was great because during second module we created an actual commercial. Our aim was to advertise a French sparkling Wine. I remember reading a chapter about deflecting the target audience from the Strategic Advertising Management that helped my team with their commercial. To observe your audience and connect with their relations to why they might want to buy your product could create a brand loyalty customer. (Percy, 2012). With a story line in place, which you can read more in the Advertising blog, we were able to target an audience of someone looking to impress with the slogan, “when the moment needs more than champagne.” We were chosen as the top presentation and were given the treat of chocolate. What a great motivator.

To finalize my semester, we had a class on branding. What surprised me, but I understood, was how almost anything can be branded. Especially yourself. The second part of the class was a challenge for me because it was to evaluate yourself. I am proud of who I am, but I might not know all the qualities that I take for granted for. Janja Song pointed out in my presentation which was a brand application toward working as a food and lifestyle photographer for FOOD52 was that I also am a cook. I enjoy cooking and love to learn about food. This was would be a huge point of difference compared to other potential applicants for this position.

Overall, I learned a few new things about myself. I am one chatty person, but I could tell I was more comfortable working in discussions more then presentations. Now, I am much more acquainted with the nerves and know that the more I present, the more I am comfortable with it. I also have to drift from always sounds like an over excited talk show host. I’m excited for the next semester to continue making mistakes and growing with accomplishments with my class. As I read in the beginning of year from the Lean Start-up “Entrepreneurs are everywhere” (Ries, pg 8).

 

Here comes 2019!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

CBSInsights. (February 2, 2018). The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail. Research Brief.

 

Clegg, S., Schweitzer, Jochen, Whittle, Andrea, & Pitelis, Christos. (2017). Strategy : Theory and practice(Second ed.).

 

Korn, N. (2018). ‘Intellectual Property Rights’.Managing a Creative Business. 

 

Osterwalder, A and Pigneur, Y. (2010) Business Model Generation. Hoboken: John Wiley &      Sons, Inc.

 

Percy, L., & Elliott, Richard H. (2016). Strategic advertising management (Fifth ed.).

 

Ries, E. (2011). The lean startup : How constant innovation creates radically successful            businesses. London: Portfolio Penguin.

 

Small, Gary. (Oct 13, 2018). “Mind games: a mental workout to help keep your brain sharp.”         The Guardian. Last Accessed on December 10, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/13/mental-exercises-to-keep-your-brain-sharp

References

CBS Insights. (February 2, 2019). The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail. Research Brief.

Hulme, Simon. (2018). “Entrepreneur Finances” Managing in a Creative Business.

 

Osterwalder, A and Pigneur, Y. (2010) Business Model Generation. Hoboken: John Wiley &      Sons, Inc.

Percy, L., & Elliott, Richard H. (2016). Strategic advertising management (Fifth ed.).

 

Ries, E. (2011). The lean startup : How constant innovation creates radically successful            businesses. London: Portfolio Penguin.

Small, Gary. (Oct 13, 2018). “Mind games: a mental workout to help keep your brain sharp.”         The Guardian. Last Accessed on December 10, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/13/mental-exercises-to-keep-your-brain-sharp

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