If I must say, Managing a Creative Business was definitely my favorite module so far. Due to the fact I am a manager in a retail company, the subjects of study truly inspired my day to day development and supported my knowledge so I could improve my skills. Perhaps more technical information added value to my interests and I was able to practice it during the last few months.
When the module began, revising the Business Canvas model instigated my memory to revisit what I have learned in 2018 and I was happy to acknowledge there were still a few points I had to develop in order to ensure I had the correct understanding and knowledge. Last year, we developed a Business Canvas for our startup, whereas this year on our first class, the task was to develop an existing company’s model and improve its positioning. Personally it was challenging as I presumed it would be easy to perform, but once I started I realized how easier it can be to start a new business concept than improve and established operating one.
I discovered that the secret to improve a business model can be by being futuristic and spot trends that can have valuable assets (BMI, 2017), relying on creativity and analyzing measurable fonts to test the ideas. The business model, when understood correctly, is a huge support for any development and can be constantly modified according to a business needs in the present and future.
Figure 1. Business Model Canvas for Chilli Beans, BR.
From understanding a business model to developing one, we were ready to put our knowledge in practice to run our own business. The Business Strategy Game has been an exciting experience for MACE students every year and I was looking forward to begin. Once we had our teams together, we started a milestone of leaning, improving, failing and understanding.
The intention of the BSG is to place ourselves in the business industry as owners, and understand how it should function. According to the BSG website (2018), the game instigates all members of the group to think logically and rationally in deciding what to do next, and develop a valuable practice on how to take decisions in a real business world, with real market hazards and competition.
The biggest challenge of the game was to understanding it. In the real word, besides what is thought and explain, the real school it to practice. Our team learned it the hard way as only after a few practices and results year after year, we were able to identify the interference a decision would cause to another.
Understanding our competitor’s efforts also had a big impact on how we analyzed ourselves. Whilst our aim was to reach our goal by taking small and careful steps thus critically observing every point of impact we would have, we noticed our competitors were being slightly risky and trying different things to achieve better results.
There were many takeaways from the exercise, including a critical observation on how different regions can drastically interfere on how your brand is presented and in addition, how much more profitable the company can be depending on where its warehouse and factories are present. Nevertheless, exportation has a huge impact due to high exchange rates and pricing the items is relative depending on the local currency. Some markets have higher competitors than other, and a lesson learned is that in the digital era, online selling cannot be forgotten.
I also like to refer back to Creativity, INK (2014) and Catmull as an example of differentiation and competitor advantage. One of the reasons why the idea of Pixar is successful is due to its inclusivity and care for its employees. “it is a leader’s responsibility to protect the people he or she leads from pursuing excellence at all costs and it’s irresponsible to do otherwise.” (Stallard, M 2014). Therefore, our team decided to focus not only on our staff recognition and wellbeing every year, but also on our citizenship care and duties, winning for two years the award for best company. With the results out and presentation in place, we celebrated out victory against our competitors and of course, our grades.
Figure 2. BSG 2019 Results.
Whilst the BSG was ongoing for a few weeks, we immersed ourselves in the finance world. With two classes following the subject, I clarified so many questions I had besides realizing that it is not as bad as I thought.
On a monthly basis, at work, I receive a P&L report regarding my store and immediately after analyzing each point I am responsible for delivering an action plan to ensure future change for negative results. It was interesting to identify my opportunities when reading those reports after our lecture with Simon. Once he explained each aspect of a P&L report followed by examples, I was able to improve my knowledge and critically observe what before I wasn’t able to understand.
Moreover, we were introduced to forecasting, cash flow and balance sheets for a business and practiced on how to correctly utilize them.
What impressed me the most was the financial principles and how, in a business, the chances of you being wrong are higher that to be right. Keeping it simple is the key to achievements in a fastest pace and being aware that the forecast will probably be wrong is persuasive to then have a better critical perception.
On the 13th of November, I realized how powerful marketing can be and how without a strong plan, it can backfire and even cause negative impacts for a business. Marketing not only determines consumer needs, it also helps create it. It really begins with understanding your potential consumer (Gleeson, P. 2019). In class, it was explained that marketing should be presented as Utilitarian (something that works) and Hedonic (emotions related).
When selling an idea to a consumer, it is all about how it is presented and how much value (Schmidt , 2019) does it add in one person’s life. Of course people nowadays are searching for long term products or services that are worth paying for. However, how much something costs is relative and it depends on how important it is for the buyer. Therefore, how anything is marketed depends on how well they know their consumers and what is the relationship a business is willing to build.
The marketing objective is to anticipate, stimulate, facilitate and satisfy consumers on behalf of a business. It also requires a set of intuitions as it is ever actually certain how the public will perceive the information, even though their wants and needs have been previously researched and embraced for the development of the service. Neil Borden, in the 50s, popularized the idea of the marketing mix—and the concepts that would later be known primarily as the four Ps (Twin, 2019). Twin also explain that the four P’s represent the key factors for a successful marketing of a good service. Product, Price, Place and Promotion define how strong a marketing structure can be and how exactly it will deliver its expectations to the consumers. However, it all depends on its macro and micro environment, which will dictate the influence each of these points have on the way people perceive its information.
The strategic way of marketing a product or service couldn’t be possible without the existence of a brand. Branding something directly needs marketing support to thrive and gain the consumer’s trust. Branding is not just an image, but what it actually represents and stands for (Dawson, 2012). A brand is an identity, a reason ‘why’ and can be anything as long as it contains value to someone.
The class exercise was to embrace ourselves as a brand, and whilst delivering my presentation, I was actually caught on who exactly I was selling myself to. Remembering to have a goal and focus on a specific public or market is key for a brand’s success, as having a smaller niche is more effective than trying to perform too broad. Nevertheless, I excelled at my points of difference and parity, however I unfortunately failed on delivering my brand mantra.
I later understood that a brand mantra is not a slogan or a catch phrase, but a phrase that captures the irrefutable essence or spirit of the brand.
So far I haven’t decided what exactly I want to pursue in the next 10 years, however, the idea of being a business owner is scary. And even though the risks related to each decision and the time and money invested are very high, I have no doubts the success followed is extremely satisfactorily. As to being a business manager, that is probably what I will keep aiming for as I have discovered my passion for it. After the last module, I am more certain that I want to keep developing myself and skills in the area towards the successful achievement of my goals.
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