In the competitive world, there is a large number of emergent businesses and also a great amount of closing down companies. Apart from my background working in architectural industry for several years, common achievement for architect is having own company, and usual failure is a lack of doing-business knowledge. Although technical skills in architecture design is crucial, starting a business knowhow and management skill in creative field are necessary.
In the course of Managing in the Creative Economy, it consists of several modules, such as Mapping in the Creative Economy, Re-imaging Leadership and Designing a Business, which significantly support my goal of establishing own company in the creative economy. First two modules grant overview, direction and consciousness of dynamic change in the creative economy. And, Designing a Business give an opportunity of small business practice which illustrating a deeper and broader understanding of realistic entrepreneurship which significantly needed in every business.
To start my own architectural business, there are four major parts which similar to a practice project of the designing business module. Product design, product development, production and presentation parts are included in the project. In these four parts, there are 5 lessons learnt from the practice project; leadership and teamwork, product and service design, branding, corporate social responsibility and storytelling, that can adapt and apply to my future achievement for the better potential in the business. This essay will illustrate the key topics from the modules which are crucial for business owner, and how it could apply to my future career.
Leadership and Teamwork
Leadership and team work is the first lesson learnt in the module. It is undeniable that achievement of a business is sale and profit. Therefore, a leadership in the business is the first thing to concern in order to succeed in every business. The leadership is a process of influencing people to achieve a common goal. In my view, there are two major parts which leadership is associated. Firstly, internal scale, because business consist of several people or parties, leadership plays an important role in teamwork and cooperation. Especially for creative process such as brainstorming and product development, transformational leadership may be an encouraged environment that support creativity emergence as Von Stamm (2008) stated “Encouragement of creativity-encompassing open information flow and support for new ideas at all level of the organization is a potential environment for creativity augmentation”. Creativity can be performed by diversified ideas and experimental. Therefore, business owner needs to create this environment for its opportunity of innovative product and service. However, in this process, attitude of participants is need to be open-minded and respectful each other for positive productivity. Hence, leadership skill may need to be trained and cultivated in my future company in order to increase productivity and decrease conflict in the company.
Secondly, leadership in the business. Because, nowadays, people demand more creativity and innovation, distinction by creative and innovative outcome is a key to be competitive in today’s business (Puccio, Mance, and Zacko-Smith, 2013). Therefore, for a successful business, it is essential for business owner to lead the market and customer in order to avoid intensive competition in Red Ocean Market. To lead the market and customer, there are four key elements that can distinguish one company from others; Product and service, Branding, Corporate Social Responsibility and Storytelling.
Product and service
Distinction of product and service lead to unrivaled in a market. It is undoubted that, for a new business, going to existing market means competing with experience competitors. In contrast, creating new product and service means challenging new opportunity with less competitors. However, although the less competitor can result in a large market share and high margin, there is high risk in failure of customer acceptance. In the module, we were assigned to design a product and deliver to a real market. The challenge was how to draw attention from customers to the product. This is the most important initial process that we had to identify a vision which led us to the achievement of sale. To bring forth the vision, observation and research had to be done. After had ideas from brainstorming, several prototypes had to be experimented. To reduce the risk of failure, product test needed to be verified by target customer. These processes conform to the Lean Startup Method of Eric Ries (2011). In his book, he suggests that innovation and successful business can perform by the startup process which focuses on validated learning (loops of idea-prototyping-experimental-evaluation). The main lesson learnt from this process is not only failure of product launch can be reduced by repeatedly prototyping, testing and developing before official launch, but more creative outcome can emerge by combination of this process and insightful vision. Therefore, it can be said that distinction product and service can be generated by insightful vision from observation and product experimental through the lean startup. However, in architecture working process, there is some differences in context. Designer normally develops product together with the client before construction. Hence, the useful of this process can significantly benefit to an integrity of the construction through the collaborative prototyping among producers; designers, engineer, supplier and contractor. The more experimental in design and the more validation by collaborators, result in the more innovative and less failure in the construction.
Branding is one of the most important representative of our product and service which we want to propose to customers. It does not only associate with company name and logo, but also places of company, distributed channel, advertising and employee’s image. To be distinct, the more unification and consistent of the images, is the more powerful of the brand that can communicate to customer, and the more value of our product and service, is the more attractive for the client. As stated by Gallulo (2013) , CEO of Rapt Studio, “Business today doesn’t come down to what you sell or what you do. It’s about who you are and what you stand for…They both want purpose, they want to believe, and they want to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves”, successful company is required to influence customer by its quality product and also valuable vision. Therefore, for architectural newly firm, style and concept of the firm has to be defined explicitly. Then, the concept can be firmly introduced by a company name, logo, story, website, product packaging, presentation theme, office decoration and employee fig. The unified theme would strongly communicate to client that we are an expert in this thing, and ready to offer this product to the client. Furthermore, some researches indicate that the branding is vastly essential for success of newly established firm, and should consider at the beginning to decrease cost of subsequent changes of corporate identity as well as create trustworthiness (Bresciani and Eppler, 2010). Hence, it is a great direction to prepare the main concept of the company before establishing. Foster&Partners is a good example of architectural firm which introduce a brand of integrated design through all working process and projects including competition prizes (Design Museum + British Council, 2007). It can be said that, corporate social responsibility through environmental concerning is one of the company concept that effectively creates its strong brand image. Therefore, to create my branding, my expertise is green architectural design, I would decorate an office in the way of environmental concerning and energy-saving, propose green architectural design through design competition and involve in public green campaign in order to solidly promote a clear position and my expertise through this contexts.
Corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility, nowadays, plays a key role as value-added to the branding. It also can be a tool to increase brand awareness and differentiate the brand from competitors. In the past, I only knew an eco-friendly trend that can affect customer perception. However, after more research and practice in the module, I found that there are several issues, such as human right and employee welfare, involved in the CSR which become extremely important in term of brand image as stated by Allirajah (2013), group chairman of Lycamobile, “CSR is an important way to increase a business’ competitive advantage, protect and raise brand awareness and build trust with customers and employee”. There are several business models that success by CSR such as TOMS Shoes which successfully promote its brand through charity, and this good work can be a powerful profit engine, said by Binkley (The Wall Street Journal, 2010). Although this method could increase cost for business operation, effect of the goodness incredibly raises the brand awareness result in the reputation and profitability. Furthermore, there is an important issue about environmental concerning which could be legitimated in the near future. Some organizations are now proposing for eco-friendly standard which will not allow under standard architecture to be publicly promoted. This illustrates a rapid growth in the importance of CSR in shortly. Therefore, at least, environmental concerning should be a criteria for my architectural business, and ethical issue such as supporting child education, one of important social problem in my country, can be a surplus that raises brand image and also engage people heart by its goodwill story.
One of the key tools that we were advised in the class is storytelling. In business, people normally focuses on demand of the customer, and provide supply respond to that demand. However, considering to stimulant of the demand, trustworthiness can be a key to motivate purchasing decision. Trustworthiness can emerge by belief. Therefore, storytelling which can engage audience heart would be pivot to succeed in the business as Denning (Forbes, 2011), Leadership guru, indicated “Storytelling is more than an essential set of tools to get things done: it’s a way for leaders” and “Persuasion is the centerpiece of business activity” stated in Harvard Business Review (Mackee and Flyer, 2003). TOMS Shoes is a significant instance which use CSR, as a tool, for the storytelling to engage people. One more important thing, not only the company that gain a goodwill by helping the society, customers will also gain this benefit to their image as well. Even in my tiny experience, selling of my group product proved that the sales increased after customer knew that it was student hand-made product. From this example and experience, I realized that this art of communication is extremely crucial not only for the business, but also during every working process especially for creative industry which trades intellectual property. Therefore, for my future business, green story of product and company, such as portfolios and contribution to green organization, must be attentively provide in order to engage clients as well as offer the value-added story for them. Moreover, storytelling would be cultivated as organizational culture for more diversified and depth story from the bottom of organization through the top.
From the lecture classes and real business practice I n the modules, two factors which affect to the customer’s purchase decision are value of and believe in the brand. These two factors can be augmented by the leadership in the business which can be performed by four elements. Firstly, product and service is a tangible substance that client can measure by usage and satisfaction. Secondly, branding is a position and purpose of the company which communicate with the client. Thirdly, CSR is a tool that produce value-added to the company by helping social or environment. Lastly, storytelling is an art of communication to apply story to activities to engage customer heart. These elements are facilitated to create distinction, value, and belief in the brand in order to effectively lead the market and make profit at the end. This lesson realizes me the importance of strategic business plan by using these element effectively, as a tool, to avoid sunken in the red ocean strategy-high competitive market. Preparation of the right product by lean startup, creating distinct stand and valuable offer with a robust theme, adding meaningful responsibility and affiliating with impressive story would create the leadership in the market. All of there could be a key to the success of newly company. Last but not least, networking is another essential key to success which is emphasized in the module but not mentioned in this article because limitation in space. Therefore, it is beneficial to research for further argument.
Bresciani, S., & Eppler, M. J. (2010). Brand new ventures? Insights on start-ups’ branding practices. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 19(5), 356-366.
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