Reflective essay

I am really interested in creative industry, and hope to be a creative entrepreneur in three years. For achieving this goal, there are eight skills I need to improve in terms of design thinking & human Centred Design, determining feasibility, business plan development, new product prototyping, marketing & communication channels, branding, finance & prising and presentation skill.

Design Thinking & Human Centred Design

In the beginning of the module, we had a workshop with Eewei Chen, the host of this course. He introduced us how to create a realistic business ideas.  In workshop we talked about “lean start-up” which makes us to discover how to cooperate with others to strengthen consumer experiences in a public space with digital and physical experiences. Eewei also mentioned that “Lean Startups use validated learning, scientific experimentation, and iterative releases to deliver products and services that accurately meet customer needs with the minimum of initial funding.” To me, funding is one of the barriers when starting up a business. Observation, data-collecting and experiences would be helpful for finding the insight of consumer in order to decrease cost initially. In addition, a expert person, Philip (2010) states in The Financial Times by saying ” Thinking lean is about constantly measuring all you do, and being able to change quickly as fresh evidence emerges”. The idea of “lean” processes not only focuses on minimizing initial funding, but provides flexibility to meet customer needs by applying new methods as well as reviews the process constantly. During the period of workshop, we tried to innovate a museum for increasing the visits. The employments of some skills such as teamwork, brainstorming and shaping a persona to launch a business model from ideas to have a pitching. It was my first time to have collaboration with people from different countries as well as produced a pitching in such a limited time. I gained the knowledge of applying design ideas to solve problems.

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Human centred design is crucial to business ideas for obtaining the primary research data. Simon, B. and Petrelli, D. (2011) agree that discussions with the group of potential users which benefits to have further understanding of needs and values of customers. To know their needs, we interviewed the student in campus directly. It provided good chances to communicate with the target audience we want. After that, we produced a prototype to explain our idea which is based on the requirements of the target audience. I understand that any business ideas should begin with the problems of people. Approaching people for finding their insight is an important step for a project.

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Determining feasibility

With brainstorming, we can create hundreds of crazy ideas. However, only few ideas are suitable and feasible to a project. The best ideas are always the most useful to people rather than the most creative ones (Nicholas, W. K., Paul, B. P. and YunHee H., 2011). It needs a lot of information to observe the trend to judge an idea is valuable or not. In October, 2013, we visited the Frieze Art Fair in London. I examined artworks in a business view. Also, I heard the talks between buyers and sellers to develop the penetration of tastes of people nowadays. Design is different from art which equip with more practical functions. For the business project, I am required to accurately pick the most valuable ideas and put them into practice.

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Business plan development

Business plan is the main topic of this module.  We applied the theorise learned in class to real business. At first, we narrowed down the ideas and found the most feasible and innovative one; shaping the persona of target audience by describing personality as well as life and the issue she has. For solving the character’s problem, we created the features of our product by brainstorming.  After that, through data-collecting to find the lacuna in the market and decided the position of our product. Finally, we visualised the idea from sketch to prototype. With the experience of converting ideas to business, I realised that for starting a business, I will need to penetrate the potential demands in public. Additionally, need to turn the concept into tangible things.

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Moreover we were advised to attend some lectures which are outside of class. The most impressive one to me is “How to from your skills and ideas”. In the lecture, the lecturers shared some ideas with audiences for starting up a business such as finding what your passion is and no debt in the beginning. Mark Fischer, a business strategy consultant and Internet entrepreneur mentions that   “When you’re living in poverty, every day you have to question how you are going to add value to the company on that day.” In order to ensure the business can move on instead of struggling with financial problem, I should estimate the risk of every investment and never having loans when starting-up the business.

New product prototyping

A prototype allows people can experience products physically, which specifies the ideas as well as assists the entrepreneurs to describe their concepts. The main difficulties of product prototyping are the high cost and unavailability of materials. Except making a shoe with the exist material in hand, we learned the skill of using recycling of woods from other students to create models in 3D workshop. Schneider, E.L. et al. (2014) say that applying recyclable resources to build prototypes extends materials lifetime, in addition, decreases the cost. The more techniques we own, the less cost we spend.

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Furthermore in the process of producing the clutch of our brand: le petit sac. We visited many designers in London for creating the perfect product. Communications with the designers improve the knowledge of stitching, fabric and employment of many materials. At first, we tried to do the prototype by ourselves which can fully display our concept. Afterwards we tended to refine our product and  looked for professional tailors to generate a better one. However, obliviously the skills of tailors did not satisfy our needs. We finally cooperated with a professional designer to finalize the smart evening clutch. We spent a lot of money to revise and test our product during the process.  According to experiences, I realize that for producing the products much efficiently. If we have sufficient time, it is helpful to have keep trying in order to make an accurate mock-up by ourselves, as well as, do more researches about the labour before taking money from own pocket.

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Marketing & Communication channels

As time goes by, the marketing strategies need to keep innovating for following the trend. In Catherine’s lecture, she talked about post-modern marketing which concludes many topics such as tribe, consumer experiences, co-creation and engagement. A tribe is group which gathered by people with strong emotion. They tend to share ideas and create a link between them. The other part of this topic was mainly about the changing of consumer behaviour. Nowadays consumers are more like active participants. Catherine stated that “customer involvement is the primary objective and the sale is a by-product of this relationship.” They are more engage in the products/services and sometimes co-create the ideas with the company. Smith, T. (2007) also mentions the new trend of consumption in the journal by saying “post-modern consumer is negotiated in the subjective, contextual pragmatism of practical application.”

In addition, Catherine also introduced the communication channels: the trend and the stage of communication strategy. The new trend is showing the product by flagship shops, fair and the popup phenomenon. As well as, she talked about how to launch them. For instance, identify target audience, choice of communication tools and collecting feedback. Jonathan, A. (2014 ) from The times claims that appropriate communication channels can discover exist and potential clients. In the lecture, I knew that the importance of crowd-sourcing to a business project. And co-creation may be the most efficient way to get creative ideas. On the other side, the choices of media channels should be based on the attributes of the products which can maximize efficiency of approaching target audiences.

Branding

There was an activity to improve the knowledge about branding by observing the operations of other brands in terms of cognition, emotion and physic.  Then we went to down town in Kingston to collect primary research. For building there brand image, companies deliver the cognition via design, price and location.  Customer service and visual stuff bring the feelings to audience. For example, when I went in the store of Hollister, the staff’s styles coincide with brand’s atmosphere: sexy and sporty. Moreover the physical things such as decorations and items in store create the personality of brand.  Besides we also had a case study of virgin airline which is a innovative marketing example for branding. They make the routine things  become more interesting. Owing to that, customers are willing to pay attention to them. There is a similar concept on another website called The Fun Theory states that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better” (The Fun Theory, 2009). It is imperative to observe similar brands to analyse their branding, moreover, try to improve the brand to be more attractive by making the audiences laugh.

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Finance & pricing

The financial things are always a nightmare to me. When we launched the business in this module, I got a new title: finance director. All the team mates worked together for setting a suitable price by analysing the market. For example, pinpoint the target audience; track the competitors’ price and the cost of our product. Afterwards there was an introduction to finance director which I learned many professional words in accounting. It is crucial to clarify the finance report and make it head to profitable business with a proper price. Price your products correctly is not increase the selling but flourish your business (Wasserman, E. ,2010). I understand that for my own business, it is necessary to price appropriately as well as make the bills clear to create a stable foundation for the business.

Presentation skill

Last but not the least, presentation skill is the most direct way to deliver the concept to clients and investors. During the semester, we had many opportunities to present our ideas such as a pitching in Wolff Olins and competitions in Dragon’s Den style. There were many challenges we need to overcome in these presentations: limited time, critical questions and high stressful atmosphere. It is imperative to draw attention of the audiences by vivid speaking and visualise the concept. To ensure the audiences can figure out the whole concept in a short time; to agree with your ideas and then to persuade them to invest in your business. Marshall, L. (2007) also consent to the importance of presentation by saying that presentation is the process of sales, an efficient speaker always leads to profit. Therefore I know that in order to have an efficient pitching, the first thing is to simplify the idea, in addition, using charts and pictures instead of words to describe the product.

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Conclusion 

To sum up, Design business covers most of the skills we need to start-up our business and allowes us to put the theories into business. The latest trends and concepts were absorbed in class as well as the tutors also motivated us to have penetration about the creative industry. Additionally, we gained many valuable experiences during the business process. With the learning in this module, I gradually realise the goal I want to achieve in my career life: To be a creative entrepreneur.

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Bibliography

Jonathan, A. (2014) ‘TV or Twitter — brand image is key: A strong reputation is paramount, so why don’t more law firms market themselves, asks Jonathan Ames’, The times, Jan 30 p.55.

Johnson, E. (2012) ‘How To: Launch a Startup with No Debt’, SUCCESS Magazine, Available at: http://www.success.com/article/how-to-launch-a-startup-with-no-debt (Accessed: 22 April 2014).

Marshall, L. (2007) ‘ Businesspeople — Management ; Sales Presentations — Management’, CRM Magazine, 11(4), p.15

Nicholas, W. K., Paul, B. P. and YunHee H. (2011) ‘Building on the ideas of others: An examination of the idea combination process’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(3), pp.554-561.

Philip, D. B. (2010) ‘Lean startup thinking that works for allThe Financial Times, 16 October, p.14.

Schneider, E.L., Oliveira, C.T., Brito, R.M. and Malfatti, C.F. (2014) ‘Classification of discarded NiMH and LiIon batteries and reuse of the cells still inoperational conditions in prototypes’, Journal of Power Sources, 262, pp. 1-9.

Simon, B. and Petrelli, D.  (2011) ‘ Remembering today tomorrow: Exploring the humancentred design of digital ’, International Journal of Human – Computer Studies69(5), pp.324-337.

Smith, T. (2007) ‘The existential consumption paradox: an exploration of meaning in marketing’, The Marketing Review, 7(4), pp.325-341.

The Fun Theory (2009) Thefuntheory.com. Available at: http://www.thefuntheory.com/ (Accessed: 23 April 2014).

Wasserman, E. (2010) Inc.com. Available at: http://www.inc.com/guides/price-your-products.html (Accessed: 23 April 2014).

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