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What is the most sustainable way to self-promote as a new business? (Posted by Jason Bowers)

Tue, 28 April 2015

In this blog, Shell LiveWIRE alumnus Jason Bowers shares his top tips, 15 years after starting his first business.
Back in 2002 I was awarded Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur for Yorkshire with my business: interiors-thestudio.com, an Interior Design and Contemporary Furniture showroom in Hull. Fast-forward 13 years and here I am in the process of setting up another business.
 
I’ve collaborated with the IPSE’s Freelancer of the Year 2015; Rebecca Shipham at shipsandpigs.com. Between us we have lots of experience of running our own businesses, of working in the creative sector, and more recently of teaching. Together we have founded creativebriefs.co.uk with the aim of bridging the gap between creativity, and making a living. 

So, a new business! This time I have 15 years of experience, knowledge and confidence behind me, and this time there’s two of us setting up the business. Does that make it any less daunting? No! But I’ve learnt a lot and Creative Briefs is all about passing on that knowledge.

Creative Briefs

Creative Briefs gives people of all ages the chance to test if they have what it takes to turn their creative passions into creative careers, through online learning schemes. We’ve seen students leaving creative education knowing lots about their creative specialisms, but not so much about how to make a living from it. We aim to bridge that gap.
 
Who benefits from the work of Creative Briefs?
 
We’ve turned a few things on their heads at Creative Briefs. We don’t like the word ‘Entrepreneur’ and we still feel uncomfortable when we are described as one. Not only that but when I was 37 I found out I was dyslexic, so I have a bit of trouble spelling it at times. Instead we use the term ‘Creative Thinkers’. People seem to like this. The Dyslexia Action Society much preferred this softer terminology, which makes it more accessible.
 
One of the things we actively encourage any creative thinker to do is to enter as many online competitions as they can. I wouldn’t be writing this now if I hadn’t entered a competition, so I’ve seen first hand how much they can boost confidence and self-promotion.

Competitions are a sustainable, productive way of ‘testing the water’.
 
They allow any business to test and explore in an effective and efficient way what the market place requires, not just what you think the market place wants. 
 
Competitions are an economical way of self-promoting on a massive scale, making contacts and sharing your skills or services with a wider audience. All entrants can learn from each other collaboratively.
 
Competitions can be used to gain an insight into what people think of your business. This is all very different to when I set up interiors-thestudio back in the olden days before the Internet really took off. I just had my uncle Dave to ask for advice. Now you can ask the whole world.  
 
At Creative Briefs we like to practice what we preach, so we’ve entered Richard Branson’s business competition for Start Up Businesses. If you’d like to view our journey, go to http://www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pitch-to-rich/start-up/creative-briefs/ where you can also vote for us!
 
A few parting words
 
During my time in business I’ve learnt that being paid for a unique product or service is key in this age of mass production and cheap copies of products.  My advice is to keep overheads low, minimise travel time, and always try to think of the simplest and most effective and efficient solution to solve problems! 
 

About Jason Bowers (Founder of Creative Briefs)

 
Jason has run his own design business since 2000, designing bars, restaurants, hair salons and domestic interiors, alongside selling contemporary furniture across the world.

Jason has over 7 years of teaching experience in colleges, teaching 3D Design and Work Based Learning, whilst also working as a private tutor from his design studio.

Jason was the Shell Livewire Young Entrepreneur winner for Yorkshire in 2002. He achieved his PGCE qualification from The University of Huddersfield in 2007.
  
You can follow Creative Briefs on Twitter @briefsnotpants