Doing more to help creative business start ups grow and succeed – Interview with Doug Richard

Laura Osorno + Leo Espinosa

Today’s interview is with Doug Richard made famous in the UK for being one of the first Dragons on the BBC series, Dragon’s Den. More recently Doug started the School for Startups in 2008 to provide accelerated instruction to entrepreneurs and it has grown into a world leader in delivering targeted programs that teach people how to start and run better businesses. One of their flagship programmes is their School for Creative Start Ups and it is on the back of this that Doug recently published a book: How to Start a Creative Business: the jargon-free guide for creative entrepreneurs which aims to teach creative people how to turn their creative hobbies and skills into sustainable businesses. He joins us today to tell us a little more about the book and why he wrote it.

This interviews follows on the back of last week’s interview: The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service and is number fifty-two in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Doug:

  • Doug is a serial entrepreneur but as well as advising government on small business strategy and apprenticeships he runs a social enterprise called, School for Startups.
  • Businesses are largely founded around an innovation or a creative start.
  • How to Start a Creative Business

  • Very little time or effort has been spent helping people start creative businesses even though they can be very successful and the UK is particularly strong in the creative sectors. especially in exports.
  • On the back of the School for Creative Start Ups programme it became clear to Doug that there is very little that is being done to help creative business and that was the inspiration behind the book.
  • The book is colourful and beautifully illustrated by Erin Rommel and is designed with the creative person in mind.
  • The book is story lead rather than lesson driven to help engage with a creative audience.
  • Many creative people are, in the nicest possible way, analytically dyslexic and so giving them tools they understand can help them run better businesses in their way.
  • Doug’s core 10 business questions (his method):
  • 1. The Proposition: What do you do that people need or want?
  • 2. The Customer and the Market: Who are they?
  • 3. The Competition: Who are we up against?
  • 4. The Industry: What do we have in common?
  • 5. The Channel: How do we reach them?
  • 6. The Relationship: What financial relationship do you want with your customer?
  • 7. The Pricing Model: What is it worth to them?
  • 8. The Key Partner: Who is our key partner?
  • 9. The Asset: What is our key asset?
  • 10. The Key Competency: What must we be good at?
  • Businesses like any other things can be designed.
  • The book is available in Kindle and paperback editions but we both agree that given the design and format of the book the paperback edition is best.
  • If you are a creative business owners then the School for Creative Start Ups is holding a pop-up showcase in central London this coming weekend, where you can get a chance to check out all of the ‘graduates’ of the School for Creative Start Ups. More details are here.

About Doug (taken and adapted from the School for Start Ups website)

Doug Richard

A successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in the development and leadership of technology and software ventures, Doug featured in the first two TV series of Dragon’s Den. He is the Founder and Vice-Chairman of the Cambridge Angels (a network for private investors), Chairman and CEO of Trutap, Chairman of the Conservative Party Small Business Task Force, and non-executive director of Alert Me, Pearl Software and Beats Digital. Between 1996 and 2000 Doug was President and CEO of Micrografx, a US publicly quoted software company. Prior to that he also founded and subsequently sold two other companies: Visual Software and ITAL Computers.

Doug holds a BA in Psychology from University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor at the school of Law, University of California at Los Angeles. In 2006 Doug was an Honorary Recipient of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion and in 2007 he became a fellow of the RSA. In 2009 Doug received an Honorary Degree and is now a Doctor of the University of Essex.

Through School for Startups Doug has delivered instruction to more than 10,000 business owners with help from universities, public institutions like the British Library and philanthropic organizations like the Royal Institute of Great Britain. In 2010 Richard received the Enterprise Educator of the year award from the National Council on Graduate Employment for his work through School for Startups with UK Universities.

You can connect with Doug on Twitter @DougRichard, find him on LinkedIn and go ahead and grab a copy of his book here.

Photo Credit: sicoactiva via Compfight cc

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