As it gets closer to the end of the 25before25 journey, I’ve started to think about what I might want to do next. Working in a start-up in a creative role or industry (keeping it nice and vague for you for now) is high up on the list of things that I’ve narrowed it down to.
With this in mind, I spent a week working with Josh and Martin, co-founders of an online entrepreneurial magazine and a creative marketing agency. They began with the idea for a magazine about inspirational grass-roots entrepreneurs, aimed at students and other young entrepreneurs. After a couple of years in more traditional jobs following university, they packed it in and decided to start their own company, The Untold Journal. It seems it went pretty well; they were backed by Loughborough University and were able to take part in their early-stage start-up programme and have access to business funding. The first volume of the journal was well-received. The issue, however, was monetizing it.
In the process of creating an audience for The Untold Journal, they had built a substantial social media following in only a few months – I have learned the hard way that this is far from easy to do and can be a full-time job in itself. It seemed digital marketing could be a way forward for the boys, leading to the creation of the Joshua Design Group.
A running feature of what I’m discovering during this year long project, is how much I enjoy working in smaller businesses and how different they are from organisations that are 440,000 people strong (the size of the civil service). This point was yet again proved when I spent time working with Josh and Martin, as whilst they clearly worked incredibly hard, it was on their terms and in their own way. This meant starting later and finishing later. It meant socialising with other co-founders in the programme and learning from each other in a collaborative way I’ve not seen in bigger companies. Time and time again the benefits of innovation and creativity on a small scale were proven.
What Did I Actually Do?
I spent the week doing what I seem to do best – writing. I helped out on the Untold Journal side of the business, so spent time interviewing two other start-ups and writing their stories of success (check out the articles for One Third Stories and Kompas), as well as writing an article on start-up grant funding. They gave me a quick lesson in WordPress - a platform I abandoned early on for my blog, but am now thinking of moving back to - and talked me through what they are doing on the creative marketing side.
I wasn’t expecting to find it all as interesting as I did, which I guess is yet another example of why I now believe gaining some insight and experience in a career is so important. I initially wanted to work with Josh and Martin because of the Journal, but found myself coming away wanting to work on the creative marketing side.
Josh and Martin
I really enjoyed the challenge of generating ideas and liked helping businesses update their branding and showing them the benefits of social media marketing campaigns. There is a clear need for this sort of service. Many SMEs and even larger organisations are still discovering the opportunities gained from tapping into the potential that social media marketing offers, as well as on-trend branding and website design. I found it all rather exciting.
More than most placements, though, I spent much of my time simply learning from the boys and the other founders I met in the co-working space. Talking to them gave me a pretty good insight into the struggles and successes of starting your own business – and it made me want to start my own.
They inspired me to think seriously about whether I could launch my own business as 25before25 draws to a close, and seeing so many young people doing just that gave me a nudge of self-confidence to think that maybe I could too.
This ‘career’ didn’t quite fit neatly into the box of a specific job, as many others have, as it allowed me to gain insight across content writing/sort-of-journalism, marketing and above all entrepreneurialism more generally. This meant it didn’t exactly fit into the infographic so I’ve thought about it from the perspective of working with the Joshua Design Group - the marketing start-up side.
Clearly there would be a huge amount of creativity, innovation and opportunity to personally add value. Problem solving, variety and intellectual stimulation would also feature heavily too, as work is all project based and would enable me to really think.
Then, there are the question marks. In terms of thinking strategically, it would be ‘yes’ within the business itself, but not so much in terms of the bigger picture of influencing across an industry – or at least not in the early stages. Travel and non-desk based work – again, ‘yes’ as you are visiting clients and potentially filming or photographing for them, but I didn’t get the impression that this is a big part of the job and ‘visiting clients’ in the UK isn’t quite what I meant when I said travel. That being said, if I worked for a larger marketing agency or as a small business grows, perhaps there could be opportunities to work internationally.
Finally, I don’t think I could claim a tick for ‘making a difference’ in the social impact sense. Again though, if you could work for a larger agency and specialise on working with charities, then in a small way you could say you were making a difference, for example by increasing donations.
All in all, I loved my time with Josh and Martin, both from the marketing, magazine and general start-up perspectives. It’s got me thinking – is starting a business something I could do myself, where I could embrace all of the different career attributes that I’m searching for?
Maybe total self-employment is the answer.
The Joshua Design Group and The Untold Journal are supported by The Studio, part of Loughborough University.