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A 'wannabe' Entrepreneur tells Startacus his tale and some tips too.
by Startacus Admin
Tim Knight is the founder of Modern Creative Magazine, previously known as The Amaze Project and/or Amaze Magazine. A creative-media magazine title for undiscovered talent, plus the best new competitions/projects from around the world. He tells Startacus his story.
I guess you could say I am a ‘wannabe’ when it comes to being an entrepreneur as although I have done some great things, and even run my own business before, I can’t say that my most recent projects have been what could be considered as fully set-up and running, they have all been stuck in ‘development hell’ for a long, long time, but from that I have learnt a lot and perhaps I can help others with the advice I have for them, ensuring they don’t make the same mistakes I did and therefore perhaps getting moving before the polar icecaps melt!
A little background for those who haven’t heard of my projects in the past:
I used to be a civil servant, but hated my job, and so I created an internal Civil Service project where staff members could highlight their alternative skills, and departments could then utilize them in order to save on their creative media costs. The end result was that the department saved money and the employee didn’t come into work wanting to slit their wrists!
It saved the Civil Service thousands of pounds, and gained 300 members, however we felt we could do more for the public and so we launched a public-facing website in late 2010. It enabled the completion of several projects and successes including: winning the NHS Institute for Innovation Healthcare Challenge, being featured in the Guardian Professional, getting ten people published - including a 11yr old girl, being shortlisted twice by the Computer Weekly Social Media Awards, helping various students get professional filming references and so much more... In all, it was a great success, but once more we were not happy, and so we changed tack and launched an online freemium magazine titled ‘Amaze Magazine’.
The idea was that the magazine would become our central communication tool, and feature all our great projects, but also expand into content about what others were up to and basically become a shining beacon for undiscovered talent.
We expected maybe 500 readers, and a little following of regular readers, and everything we did (as with all previous projects) was self-taught so we were aware that we didn’t really know what we were doing...
The magazine finally launched in March 2012 after a lot of messing around with designs and concepts. We decided to run for 6months (until August 2012) to ‘test the waters’ and see what the desire was for such a brand.
We gained 11,300 readers worldwide and had both individuals and companies, all coming to us asking to be featured, we even gained interviews with Richard Branson and Tom Pellereau but due to being self-taught with regard to designing the magazine, there were some issues - we needed work from a design aspect, and we had no clue how to attract advertisers so although we had a good following we had no income to keep the project going.
So, in essence this is why I call myself a ‘wannabe’ because although we have done some amazing things, in 3yrs we have only earned £9k from the various projects. The purpose of this article really is to give advice based upon what we have learnt to ensure you don’t waste time and organise yourself correctly. So what advice do I have?
Firstly, research, research, research...
It is great to have an idea, but don’t let your passion override your business acumen. Get researching and find out if the project is worth doing, find out what it will involve, who your competitors are, and exactly, step-by-step how you plan to implement your business strategy. These days even doing something like trying to earn money from music or art or writing isn’t just about being creative, you have to think from a business standpoint in order to build recognition and earn an income.
Social Media IS important
We cannot stress enough how important social media is. The world is awash with social media platforms these days to the point where you can literally spend all day updating different profiles and that in itself can be a full-time position, plus you have to think about where you should promote yourself and how you can do it cost effectively, however it is needed if you want your project to compete.
Some of the main sites I use and would suggest you look into would be the following (some are obvious):
Facebook Twitter Google+ Virgin Media Pioneers Dream Idea Business Circuit Myspace
Do a Google search with the general search terms of whatever you are doing, look at others who are similar to you and see where they are promoting themselves, and how they are promoting themselves, and see how you can adapt what they are doing to suit your own ends.
Plan for the Short Term, Medium Term, Long Term, and... TOTAL DISASTER...
With something like a creative media project you are always up against it, there are plenty of people who will be interested in working with you to promote themselves, but when you want something in return it will amaze you how quickly they stop all contact... Whenever you are thinking about your business strategy it is easy to have dreams of world domination and plan every step of the way, but what happens if it all goes wrong? How do you recover? What is the back-up plan? Too many people walk away from an idea these days just because something pulls them off-path or it doesn’t make enough money... Only time and effort will get you where you want to go, so think about every eventuality and how you can get things moving again should it go wrong.
There is nothing worse then spending lots of time on a project only to walk away because you are not prepared to go that extra mile.
Don’t be afraid to listen to advice
You may think you are the next Richard Branson and have the best idea in the world, however there is nothing worse then when someone comes to you and tells you that what you are doing is actually a load of rubbish and needs work... Especially when they then come up with a way to fix things and you realise you thought of the very same idea just a short time before they did... However, do ALWAYS listen - to the good, the bad and the ugly...
When I joined a website for creative professionals they basically tore my magazine apart (which was expected) but they then offered me the advice I needed to get it working effectively and I even gained a new designer from their community, so it really did work out well for me. I could have been offended, I could have had a tantrum, but I embraced the comments and I am now a millions times better off because of it. I couldn’t be happier with my new designer.
You have to listen and improve/adapt or you won’t have a project.
So how have we adapted ourselves? Practice what you preach and all that?
Well, we decided to gain some feedback just as our beta test was ending. When we did, it highlighted that our design, spelling and grammar all needed improvements. People also wanted more article based content and more project news.
We also had our own personal agenda of trying to get more advertisers on board. We had spoken to various advertising agencies when we first launched the magazine project, but as always (I personally) didn’t listen to them and carried on hoping things would fall into place, but at last we finally started to listen to the advice we were given and came up with a plan.
After taking on a professional designer to re-design the magazine from the ground up, we then decided to create a demo edition which can be touted around to potential advertisers and this is what will become known as ‘The Beta Edition’.
We have also started to improve our stat recording processes and are going to be using our social media platforms to further network with like-minded companies.
So, instead of just launching and hoping for the best we have listened to our readers, we have taken advice from those within the industry, and by the time we officially re-launch the magazine we should be self-sufficient.
We have two new titles launching soon, and have aligned ourselves with major worldwide brands which will help to attract advertisers so by the end of 2013 we should have three titles all earning advertising revenue and three great avenues to gain new readers and attention.
In the meantime do you have a story to tell? Are you talented, or know someone that is? Perhaps your business needs a little exposure? Well contact us and we will be happy to feature you in a future edition. You can email our team at [email protected]Cheers Tim and good luck for the future.
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.