Work & play

Creative Business Masterclasses


With CPD budgets recently made available to all employees at Website Design Ltd, I opted for a course that would broaden my knowledge of creative businesses, their processes and setup. Currently, I’m a one-club man, like West Ham’s Mark Noble, I’ve only ever known the Website Design Ltd way. The Creative Business Masterclasses course from Future London Academy would provide me with insight into a range of topics, including how other teams operate, mistakes commonly made, culture-inspired creativity, design leadership and how to scale a digital agency.

The course was split into 6 chapters, each delivered by an industry expert. There was plenty of overlap between the chapters, which I found very beneficial as you can see successful strategies aren’t just one-offs. It was also reassuring to have my own thoughts, ideas and processes in a design role and on the business as a whole backed up by their tried and tested evidence.

The first chapter focused on culture and scaling and there was plenty in here that I agreed with, matching Website Design’s ethos and also common problems we face when working on projects and within the company culture. It provided great advice and presented a weekly structure followed by a global agency, which doesn’t differ too much from the meetings and catchups we have here.

Chapter 2 was all about strategies and client management, which really did reaffirm the beliefs at Website Design. The next chapter was also focused on strategies, but dealt with guiding a business and team through challenges, which I found insightful and had some interesting theories on managing and forgetting knowledge. Chapter 4, again, backed up the processes, we as a team follow. It also provided and triggered marketing ideas, suggesting to keep going with networking and using LinkedIn for connections, create eye-catching social posts, nominate work for awards and leave business cards/handouts at prime locations (a plan for nominations is getting put together as I type this).

Chapter 5 was next and this covered growth, operations and leadership. While I’m ‘only’ a designer, there is plenty to consider within the role and much about a company can be translated across. For instance, one of the main takeaways from it was small tweaks can have a big impact. If we’re thinking a design process can be improved, it doesn’t need a complete upheaval. A small change can go a long way. Another element of this chapter that proved thought-provoking was all about when decisions should be made; on the right input and when you have the full picture.

Throughout the chapters, there were numerous suggestions on reading material, which I have since looked into and seeing books I’ve already read make the list was rather reassuring.

The first 5 chapters were very business and culture orientated and I value the knowledge and ideas they provided. How to instil company culture, manage work and creativity, plan your strategies, build relationships, diagnose faults, fix problems and understand economics; they might all seem business heavy, but they were all focused on the creative industry and delivered by individuals in similar roles to me; there’s more to being a designer than just design.

Chapter 6, you could say, was a lot more ‘designery’. It focused on the power of creativity, being obsessed with what you do and how to manage and use that obsession effectively. The main takeaway from the final chapter was almost on self-love and looking after Website Design Ltd. The company needs its own style and a clear brand to stand out (a rebrand is in the works). Every piece of work we do shouldn’t be for our clients. That might sound a little brash, but the insight given into the topic is backed up. If we were to create designs based on or paying homage to current culture and events, we’re keeping our feed of content up to date, helping with brand awareness and sparking conversations. The advice was ‘go all in’ on social media and that’s one thing I’ve always encouraged. We should be showing off our work and creating visually appealing images.

Presented by Dines from Studio Blup, who have worked with some global brands, chapter 6’s concluding message was on obsession. Sure, we want that work and life divide, but designers are obsessive and most of all, we should enjoy the momentum that brings.

Looking back at the course, I found it incisive and provocative. It brought together various structures and processes from creative businesses and has given me much to consider and ideas I’ll be sure to raise in our next design team meeting.