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Small Town Big Dreams: Launch and Live Podcast

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Small Town Big Dreams is our newest collaborative project, a new podcast that tells the stories of NI creative entrepreneurs. For this project we have been working with multi-disciplinary design Karishma Kusurkar and comedy promoter Graeme Watson. For it’s launch this month we hosted a live podcast at the Black Box in Belfast featuring local creative entrepreneurs Vicky Potts of games development studio Whitepot Studios, Kyle Gawley of online ticketing company Get Invited and husband and wife team Simon and Lorna Mills of photography and film studio TACA.

Each of our speakers come from very different backgrounds and now run very different businesses within the creative industries in Northern Ireland making for an interesting discussion on starting a creative business in Northern Ireland. Here are our top takeaways:

Start saying YES, pursue opportunities and put yourself out there. (Kyle)

Get started as soon as possible, even if you are still studying or have a full time job if you dream of being your own boss start building your skills, network and community. (Kyle)

It’s ok to fail, as long as you learn from your mistakes. Sometimes you have to fail to learn what you really want to do.  ‘Vicky’

One opportunity as an entrepreneur does not mean your business is set up for life, you can’t afford to get complacent you have to keep pushing yourself forward. ‘Simon’

Take care of your mental health, being an entrepreneur can be tough, set yourself up to succeed by being aware of burnout. Recognise the signs and know when to take a step back to protect yourself. Try to create a good work life balance and support network and avoid the pressure to work as many hours as physically possible – work smarter not harder. ‘All’

Be realistic about the financial pressures of starting a business and unless you have secured sufficient funding or have lots of savings it’s probably better to build the business up gradually while working than face the stress of not having enough money coming in each month to pay your bills. ‘Lorna’

Build up a portfolio of work that focuses on the area you are most interested in working on. It’s better to be really good at one thing that you are really interested in working on. (Simon)

Word of mouth still works best. Don’t underestimate the value of people saying good things about you and your business. (Simon & Lorna)

We need to bring Tech and the wider creative industries together more in NI to create opportunities for collaboration and learning. (Kyle)

Several of our speakers were involved with starting and running a business as a couple and had some special advice for others in the same situation

Make sure you have your own space and projects or hobbies outside work and leave work behind when you get home. (Simon & Lorna)

Recognise when a project isn’t working and draw a line under it because your relationship has to be more important. (Vicky)

The Small Town Big Dreams podcast is now available on Soundcloud and iTunes. There are four podcasts currently available from a wide variation of creative industries, please have a listen and let us know what you think and who you would like us to chat to for future episodes and any questions you would like us to ask

You can find the podcasts at www.smalltownbigdreams.co.uk

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