When you are running a business, it goes through a number of phases from the initial idea to the research to the implementation to selling and then to worrying about the next sale and the next new product or service to keep growing. It’s easy in the first few years to be so busy doing business that you simply don’t have time to think about strategy or direction, let alone research & development. That’s normal but it’s also the downfall of many start ups. For some, the idea just isn’t robust enough, for others it’s so successful you can’t manage it, for yet more it’s just really hard work. And that’s why it’s so hard to look up and beyond next week into what your next product might be.
One of the modules that I lead at Falmouth University on the BA(Hons) Creative Events Management course, is Innovation in Events. It’s a second year module and in which we build on standard management theory and content to develop creative problem solving skills, innovative practice and feasibility evaluation. The students have to write a business plan for a new (or evolved) product or service related to the events sector in some way and then they have to evaluate each other’s plans. The business ideas vary from apps to festival vending machines to new events to start up organisations to not for profit projects to inflatable chairs to custom made cocktail carts to waste management solutions and the list goes on and on and on. The ideas are often founded in personal experience or identification of some gap or problem that needs solving. Some students love this module and others hate it – I think because it is challenging and it requires a different way of thinking. And therein lies the crux of the problem for business owners, leaders and managers.
It’s not just about doing more of the same, it’s about thinking completely differently and we all need time to change our mindset and frame of reference to get our heads into thinking R&D. So we could make excuses about the urgency and quantity of workload, the pressures of our lifestyle, personal challenges, the ‘I just can’t do it’ or more likely, ‘what? I need to think about another new idea?’, but the simple fact is that we can’t afford not to generate new ideas and to keep moving our businesses and ourselves forwards. This is why it’s included in the course at Falmouth – it’s a core part of doing business and therefore a valuable skill to develop as far as employers of our graduates is concerned.
But for those of us who aren’t studying a degree course, help is at hand! Future Skills has just been launched – a skill development and support programme led by Cornwall College Business and Unlocking Potential. It’s designed to engage businesses and individuals at start up, management and director levels and it is entirely tailored to individual needs and wants. It’s all about having a positive impact on your business through increasing ability and capacity. It leads to a qualification and it’s funded by Europe so there are some hoops to jump through but the team have designed the programme so that it’s relevant and appropriate yet not too arduous or complex. The training is free too. It’s a means to creating that space to look up and get a chance to change that mindset to find out what the next big thing is for your business, what the next development is as well as building on what you already have.
Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky Events