Welcome to Week 6 of our #SummerScaleUp series. We hope our top tips, hints and advice have been useful, helping to grow your creative business. This week, our expert business advisor, seasoned business development manager and festivals/events organiser, Anne Tye shares her methodology on how best to deal with change. 

Creative Industry Finance is all about the wellbeing of your business, helping you to prosper and grow. Growth can bring change to your business, whether it’s moving to a bigger studio, taking on new staff or making your first move into the export market. For some, change can be scary and leads to you waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with ‘What if…?’ in your head. Often it all comes down to time, cash and communication. Here are some tips which might help.

Planning your time

Make a timeline. You can use something as simple as a giant year planner on the wall, make your own spreadsheet or get Gantt Chart software free online. Use it to plot all the key points in your project e.g. your moving in date, the delivery dates of key equipment, the start date of new staff, your shipping deadline etc. Then think about all the things you need to do to be ready and plot them in, working back from your deadline. It’s really important to be realistic about how much time each task will take, and be especially careful about delivery dates from suppliers. If everything fits and you have plenty of time, great!  If you can identify pinch points where things look a bit tight you will need to make some changes. But at least now you will have a clear picture of what is required and it’s written down, rather than circling around in your head.

Cash flow

Hopefully, you have a robust business plan which is showing that your finances will support your project, but don’t forget that your business plan can also be a valuable planning tool. Try making a new copy of your cash flow projection and use it to see what will happen if those pesky ‘What ifs…?’ occur. What if your main, regular customer doesn’t pay on time? Are there any delays in delivery that need to be identified in your timeline. There may be key moments where the delay may affect your ability to provide your service on time and how will that impact on your cash flow?  If you have financial reserves in your business to cover your concerns, your worries will be allayed.  But if not, what this exercise has bought you is a crucial time to act.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

?Tell your clients and customers about your changes if it affects them. Repeatedly!  Busy people don’t always note what you are telling them, they may be surprised to pick up a call from a new account manager – make the introduction beforehand. If you’re moving, be sure to tell your main customers and clients. Not only the main contact but also the finance team. When an invoice is received showing a different address to what is on their system there will be a delay.  Keep your messages light, informative and fun.

Keep your suppliers informed of what is happening with your business. You may need their help and they will appreciate being made to feel part of your team.

If possible, ask someone reliable in your business to be responsible for keeping your customers and suppliers informed throughout your period of change. Otherwise, do this yourself.  It could make a big difference to your relationships with both clients and suppliers.

Most importantly of all, if you employ staff, keep them fully informed. You may have fantastic staff with different personalities and their responses to change may surprise you. They may not have the same perspective of your business as you, they may feel anxiety where you feel excitement. You need to take them with you through this period of change, both physically and emotionally. Inform them regularly about how the plans are going, celebrate key deadlines as they are met and involve your staff in as many decisions as possible.

Hopefully, you’ll keep a happy and productive team in a new business model on the road to success.

Anne Tye
For the past 13 years, Anne has been a Business Support Officer for Creative Industries with a Local Authority in the North East of England. Prior to that she worked with her studio glassmaker husband, Roger, in the business they set up and ran together. She has also been a volunteer mentor working with several North East Universities and is passionate about helping creativity to be recognised and sustainable. Anne has worked with businesses as diverse as contemporary craft, visual arts, design and music and with organisations providing workspace for creatives and participatory activities. She has experience of organising events and festivals and has an IOSH accreditation in event safety.