I offer my advice on how creatives can proactively plan now for success in a post-Covid world.
To say 2020 has been a challenge would, of course, be a huge understatement. From lockdown restrictions to constant uncertainties, it’s been a period of chaos and confusion that’s sent many businesses spiraling into the unknown, forcing them to figure out the best way forward amid an ever-changing landscape. However as we start to settle into whatever version of the ‘new normal’ we’re faced with, it’s clear that not all creative industries have been as adversely impacted as others. In fact, for many screen sector businesses, the past few months have instead provided an unexpected period of opportunity and financial success. Which poses the question, how can creatives proactively plan now for success in a post-Covid world?
This silver lining is perhaps not so surprising. With customers confined to their homes, their appetite for new content has surged. During the first week of lockdown, games publishers saw their downloads spike by 52.9% while Nintendo’s dreamy second life title Animal Crossing broke sales records and cracked previously-untapped demographics who were looking to replace the onslaught of bad news with a simpler life on a digital farm. Viewers hungry for entertainment doubled their daily TV intake, while the special effects and animation sectors saw similar success, transforming overnight into one of the most bankable creative industries left standing in a world where face-to-face creativity remains restricted.
No matter how you digest the data, the results remain the same – it’s never been a better time for those creating content. The question is: how can small media enterprises use this uncertain period to seed further growth and future-proof themselves for even more success? Thankfully, simple solutions aren’t too difficult to find. Most creative content producers are flexible by their very nature and able to thrive in a socially distanced world where independent working still yields results and overheads are kept low. Years spent honing the ability to pivot at a moment’s notice to follow fickle consumer trends have also worked in their favor, allowing companies to think fast, change direction and adapt accordingly, regardless of what’s thrown at them.
Still, with the UK in the midst of a recession, the need for a robust strategy that acknowledges the current situation and how it’s impacting the marketplace has never been more crucial. With time of the essence – and a ‘wait and see’ approach simply not enough – it’s reassuring to know that there are practical steps screen sector businesses can take to formulate an in-depth roadmap to a brighter future. Unsure where to start? Consult industry experts. By dissecting your company with those in the know, you can check its oil and rebuild it bigger, better and stronger – and when new opportunities arise, you’ll be ready and waiting to strike. It’s a process that pays – literally. Despite the economic outlook, investors are still helping young companies out with cash injections if they can adequately demonstrate flexibility, strategy and a forward-thinking initiative.
That said, finding those in the know isn’t always easy. Luckily, there’s a few online tools that can help you catalyse the process. like Creative England’s Enterprise Evolve scheme. Returning for its second year – and accepting applications until Monday 14 September – this programme helps high-potential screen sector businesses become investor ready by providing pitching advice, exclusive introductions to industry experts and even face-to-face time with investors. Most importantly though, it forces companies to do some much-needed self-assessment, allowing them to find out what works, what doesn’t, and amend things accordingly with an eye on securing funds for future growth. In addition to this investor-led programme, Creative England is also continuing to back companies through its Creative Growth Finance loans, while a range of external grant-based initiatives are also available to help keep companies thriving over the coming months as we ease out of lockdown.
2020 has undeniably been a challenge. Things changed suddenly and our best laid plans were thrown out the window quicker than we could wash our hands. Yet the creative industries have always been a sector that thrives under pressure and uncertainty, often leading to ground-breaking innovation and world-wide acclaim. As it stands, a lot remains unknown – but by staying motivated, thinking strategically and investing inwardly, creative businesses can guarantee success long after COVID-19 and into a brighter and more lucrative future.