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By Saman Mansourpour, Managing Director

August 8, 2013 | 4 min read

The creative industry sector is one of the largest wealth generators for Bristol, Bath and the surrounding area, with both cities having been recognised by NESTA as having established networks, and being ranked second out of the nine top creative cities outside London. Given the international success and reputation of some of the creative firms that reside in the south west of England, the SW LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and CBI (Confederation of British Industry) have placed growth in the creative sector at the heart of their economic development strategy.

Following the first part of this report, which covered the business dynamics of the sector, while the second part looked at the start-up scene in the south west, The Agency's Sammy Mansourpour relays the discussion on creating a successful start-up.

What Makes a Creative Start-Up Successful?

Small creative businesses are intensely inter-personal, so authenticity, and understanding how your business might be perceived is the key to success.

1. The founders need focus – to know what the business is doing, when it is slipping, and most importantly who can help.

2. They need resilience – an understanding and acceptance that they will always be on the edge.

3. They require great teamwork and a culture that allows teams to thrive – start-ups need people around with complimentary skills.

4. Start-ups need honest, open communications and the confidence to learn.

To achieve the above, start-ups need access to an open network of talent, external knowledge, advisors and clients.

Nurturing the Creative Ecology

Ecology is an appropriate description here – there are small and large entities, energy flows, clients and suppliers, a constant dynamic of change and adaptation, and a need for a suite of mechanisms – it’s debateable how effectively external agents can support a creative ecology, let alone create one, but it can grow naturally through facilitated and effective networks.

What is clear is that open networks; willing guides, brokers and helpers ; a wide range of interlinked activities ; a range of companies and the active engagement of education and public sector organisations all play a key role.

The role of Universities is to create the need for a business approach early, provide experience and stimulus to shape it, and also maintain better connections with alumni.

Start-ups are powered by individual energy, so external agents should recognise that learning and growth happen every day, and should therefore:

• Promote good practice,

• Reward innovation and achievement,

• Re-frame “failure” as learning,

• Provide easy, visible support when the individuals recognise the need,

• Provide a talent pipeline for them to draw on.

Saying “there’s a lot of people starting up” – you might as well say “everyone’s gambling” – but the key is how many are rolling 6’s, and how do we measure their success?

There will be plenty of failures, but the strength of the South West ecology is becoming more apparent every day.

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