Case Study: If...creativity

​For this edition we sat down with the ultra-talented (and ultra-busy) Bec Francis of If...creativity.

Share with us some background details about your business, If...creativity
Depending on the hour of the day, and the day of the week, you will find me in the midst of event or campaign design and direction, theatre/set design, teaching, or construction of amusing and engaging creations, activations and installations that bring life to otherwise plain places.

If…creativity consistently delivers successful, high calibre events and campaigns including, 'Stirling Autumn Garden Festival', 'Stirling Spin', 'Land of the Long Lunch' and the award-winning 'Stirling Laneways'.

I work to a strategic vision that is creative and nuanced; one of imagination, resourcefulness, responsiveness. My business is events, installations, activations and environments; but not as you know them.

What has been your greatest business learning?
That I don't have to always say 'yes' - I can say 'no'. For me, learning to say 'no' means greater clarity and focus; it means my time is better spent and my energy better channelled and this gives much better results for my clients. It doesn't mean I lose my excitement or enthusiasm, and it certainly doesn't kerb my creativity – saying 'no' creates space for better 'yeses'.

What has been your greatest business success so far?
My favourite creative project has been Stirling Laneways…

The Brief: The business community of Stirling sought to support the famous and longstanding existing community village market with further activation to make market visits to Stirling as memorable and entertaining as possible for all. How can we draw people around the wider Stirling village and into the established businesses?

The Solution: A strategy was born that leverages arts and entertainment to celebrate the nurturing, creative lifestyle that is the Adelaide Hills. Deftly mixing selected retail with a plethora of unique entertainment, Stirling Laneways an award winning, town-sized event, which encourages visitors to 'follow their feet' to explore and discover the broader Stirling area.

Laneways has been awarded Mainstreet SA 2016  'Market Award' and was a Finalist in the 2015 BrandSA Regional Awards for 'Festivals & Events'.

Is there anything within your business experience that you would have done differently?
I would like to have been braver sooner and branched out earlier. We think we can wait for the 'right time', but the reality is the 'right time' is often now. For anyone who enjoys working creatively, be brave – branch out as early as possible.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest business information and trends?
Ha! Would that I could! As a reasonably large chunk of what I do involves technology and social media, the reality is it is a constantly changing landscape and you can never be across (and on top of) all aspects, all of the time. Algorithms change, tools get updated, the clock still ticks.

For people in small business, especially for sole traders, finding someone you can collaborate with, to 'divide and conquer' is critical. This is especially true when the things you need to know are in a realm that is not where your core skills reside. Finding people to 'pair and share' with makes keeping up-to-date more manageable - and that sort of relationship really needs to be a two-way street. That's where collaborative/share working spaces can work well – they can bring some of the opportunities and benefits of a larger workplace, but with the creative control of the individual.

Where have you sought business advice?
I didn't come from a business-oriented family and wasn't immersed in a business-focussed up-bringing, so I feel that I need to be mindful of an inherent business acumen I need to achieve. I seek advice from many, many places: close mentors in similar spaces to mine, paid professionals (like my trusty accountant), reliable online resources (including podcasts and blogs), and the successful businesses in my local community. Everyone has their own approach and perspective, and through listening to others I have found solutions that resonate for me.

What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
What is the value of my time?
How do I manage cost control?
What are the risks?
What can I achieve?

What value do you place in business plans?
Mixed. On the one hand, without a destination, how do you know where to head (or when you have arrived)? On the other hand, as a creative I highly value agility and flexibility, so the capacity to refocus and redirect is crucial. As long as the business plan is nimble, it's workable – I guess for me it is about having a clear destination with a fluid route to get there.

What three things should someone consider before starting a business?

  1. What are the benefits (to others) in what I want to do? Is there sufficient demand for it?
  2. How will people find me? How will I get my message out there?
  3. What will I do if things don't go to plan? Am I going to love it?

You can learn more about Bec's work at the If...creativity website, or follow her on one of her many social media platforms (all available from her website).