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© Richard Hanage – From Great Expectations to Hard Times A Longitudinal Study of Creative Sector Graduate New Ventures Richard Hanage Visiting Lecturer, Teesside University Business School Teesside University, Southfield Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 3BA Dr Jonathan M. Scott Reader in Entrepreneurship, Teesside University Business School
© Richard Hanage – Research Question and Approach What happens to graduates with a creative degree when they try to start a digital creative business on graduating. Four year longitudinal study of 7 graduates, through 6-monthly in-depth semi- structured interviews and periodic questionnaires (eg GET test, Learning Styles) A ‘convenience sample’ from my start-up workshops. All had been independently assessed as having ‘promise of business success’, but were young and lacked business experience. They had high levels of start-up support, eg DigitalCity Fellowships Interviews recorded, videoed, transcribed, and analysed by topic. Also used business plans, tweets, Facebook, for some minor triangulation. No other contact. Researcher tried to be a ‘disinterested observer’, but inevitably influenced the participants’ thoughts and actions, through the questions asked.
© Richard Hanage – Creative Graduates: Stages of Business/Career Development Transition 1: from creative student to creative entrepreneur. Prior creative experience Prior enterprise/ work experience Creative development Entrepreneurial development Phase 1: Life up to graduation and intent to start a business. Phase 2: Trying to be a successful creative entrepreneur. Prior personal experiences - school, Uni. Peer & family influences, etc. Personal development: learning, shifts in expectations, skills, identity, career etc Utilising ‘creative’ experience Utilising business experience Their personal world and experience Utilising creative learning Utilising business learning Personal learning and events Transition 2: to a viable career in line with new personal objectives. Phase 3: Sustaining a successful (entrepreneurial?) career. Creative development (if any) Entrepreneurial / employee development Personal development in new role(s)
© Richard Hanage – Business/Career Routes Growth Business Owner Solo FreelancerEmployee Practice their art Use their art Abandon their art A: Website design F: Motion graphics E: Animation business C: Music design B: Designer goods E-commerce D: Animation sales G: Retail e- commerce idea A: Web-site designer B: E-marketing Manager C: Music publishing & record labels C: Shelf-stacker D: Graphic design D: Signage Manager F: Betting Shop Mgr B: Running creative workshops C: Collate DJ music reviews G: Sales lead generator idea G: Trainee chocolatier A: Website design F: Motion graphics
© Richard Hanage – Varied Journeys B: Serial £20k+ £10-20k £5-10K £0-5k £0k Annual income A: Linear Web-site design job. Web-site design business Other ideas E-commerce marketing manager job. E-commerce web- site for designer products Other projects Freelance work in schools C: Portfolio Music for computer games Free- lance work Record labels Music publish- ing DJ- ing Shelf- stacker job.
© Richard Hanage – Business Thread –Financially, they all ‘failed’. None have paid themselves the minimum wage. –Starting a business did not necessarily equate with being entrepreneurial. Some were avoiding boring jobs (2) or could not get a creative sector job (4). –Selling skills were the main missing element of human capital. They all struggled to find customers, despite having good products. –Support cost about £20k each. Some thought it was too optimistic and generous. –Unknown unknowns: So much to discover and learn. –Time commitment: only one worked consistently more than a 40hr week. –Alternative income from family, state or other work reduced the pressure to succeed in the business. –A business team may be a key to success (1), but not if the team is too big (1), or combines social as well as business (1). –Tough industry. Are some sub-sectors especially tough – eg music?
© Richard Hanage – Personal/Creative Threads Personal Thread –School/Uni behaviours were good indicators of business behaviours. –Artist/Business identities. Most moved easily from an artistic identity to more of a business identity – as expected from their declared intent. –Developing their personal lives. All were exploring options in their personal lives, which influenced their businesses – eg forming/splitting social partnerships. –Personal issues were major determinants of career outcomes – eg financial pressures on acquiring a family, having to move location, loss of alternative income. –Learning: all believe that the experience was not wasted. –Serial Entrepreneurs? None of the six in employment expect to run a full-time business again, but some may do some freelance work Creative Thread –Practitioners? Three were very keen to continue as practicing creatives. Another three do it as a side-line or hobby.
© Richard Hanage – Questions Arising from Insights –Excess graduates. Do Universities produce too many creative graduates? –Enterprise training. Do too few creative students get in-depth business experience and training? Especially about being ‘necessity entrepreneurs’. –Masters degrees. Do graduates do a Masters degree mainly to postpone the pain of entering the employment market? –Post-grad support. Are graduate start-up schemes too optimistic and too munificent? –Selling skills. Do start-up schemes give too little training in selling? –Teams. Should start-up programmes encourage team start-ups? –Getting experience. Is starting a graduate business a necessary step on the road to a ‘proper creative sector job’ rather than the first step in entrepreneurship? – Assessments & prior experience: are they good indicators of business success? –Personal weaknesses (eg confidence): how can we make sure we address these?
© Richard Hanage – Next Steps: Focus on the Entrepreneur This is a very unusual longitudinal data-set: detailed real-time data from business birth to closure (and beyond). What other issues should be investigated? Business stageEntrepreneurial issues Why and how did they start the business? Prior experiences Entrepreneurial intent Stages of start-up Use of business support How did they run the business? Critical incidents Entrepreneurial learning Networking/stakeholders Marketing/selling Why and how did they close it? Impending doom Closure and grief Learning from failure What next? Why?Next career step Return to entrepreneurship?
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