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Combining a creative leap of faith with a careful plan

Combining a creative leap of faith with a careful plan
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Combining a creative leap of faith with a careful plan
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

It takes real courage to set up on your own. But while every entrepreneur will acknowledge the importance of being prepared to go with your gut instinct, as our Churchill Square customer Mivvy Creative will confirm, it’s every bit as much about taking a carefully calculated risk as it is about a leap of faith. During the coronavirus pandemic, the team has been helping brands re-assess their marketing to bring them through lockdown and out the other side.

A thought-out career trajectory

Paul Woodger has a steady, carefully thought-out career trajectory that’s taken him from an apprenticeship with a creative agency at 16, to nearly 20 years with that same company. “I rose up through the ranks,” he remembers, “from absolute beginner to studio manager. I’m curious and tenacious and I learned so much through being with a small agency – you get to try your hand at everything.” Given that he was so well settled, what was it that made him take the plunge in 2017 to set up on his own?  “Two things, really,” reflects Paul. “Firstly, one of my friends started his own company and it made me realise that it is possible. Secondly, the birth of my son. I thought of all the things I want for him and, in a nutshell, I want him to achieve his full potential. I realised that, in not being my own boss, I was failing to achieve mine. So that’s when I decided to set up on my own. “

The impact of coronavirus on the business

Paul had been an independent business owner for about three years before the coronavirus pandemic hit, giving him the safety net of a stable customer base and projects.

“I was really lucky that when the lockdown first happened I had some larger, ongoing projects in place which meant I could carry on as normal, albeit from home,” says Paul.  The team at Mivvy began to notice businesses re-evaluating their online presence and re-address their branding, providing them with a great opportunity to advise companies with effective marketing strategies. With businesses having to move their services online, Paul has been busy delegating work to his team and helping as many clients as possible, prompting him to hire his first ever full-time employee to share the workload.

Local contacts

Mivvy Creative supplies brand identities, websites, and marketing materials for a range of companies. It wasn’t just years of experience that left Paul in a good position to establish the business; he had built up a wealth of local contacts, too, something he’s always been keen to maintain. “The networking organisation BNI has been really effective when it comes to securing new business. I’d recommend networking to anyone starting up – not only can it lead to work, it’s the support, advice and perspective you get from others that can be so useful in what can be quite a lonely time.”

Why Mivvy?

Paul drew inspiration for his company’s name from his wife’s uncle. “My wife’s father passed away when she was three and her uncle was a sort of father figure for her growing up. His nickname is Mivvi. I was talking to him over dinner about coming up with a short, catchy name for the business and he said I should name it after him as a joke. Later I googled his nickname it came back with the alternative spelling ‘Mivvy’, which is an old English word meaning a person who is adept at something. It was the combination of my experience and Uncle Mivvi’s character and values, which align with those I want my business to exemplify, that led to the name of the business. There is nothing more satisfying than helping a customer present their story in a clear, concise, engaging way – and, at Mivvy, that’s what we do.”

Mivvy offers creative solutions through a range of platforms, including print, photography, video and digital – services that come in very useful in our digital coronavirus world. “We try to dig deep to really understand our clients, who they’re targeting and what they’re trying to achieve. We’re all about collaborating with them – we aim to be an extension of their existing team.”

Working at Kings Hill Business Centre

When it came to finding a base for his business, Kings Hill’s Churchill Square Business Centre seemed a natural choice for Paul. “I came back to the Square 2 weeks after lockdown – I have 2 small children and our house is small.” Having tried working evenings and early mornings to juggle things but being restricted by deadlines and the volume of enquiries meant Paul decided to go back to the office to reap the productive benefits of a ‘normal’ days’ work.

“It’s away from home – so I can enjoy family time when I’m not working – but close to home, so I can easily pick up my son from nursery as required. The building itself serves as a great, professional face for my business, with a friendly reception team to greet visitors or handle any issues I might have.”  

With Capital Space’s new Covid-secure measures, we’re pleased that we can provide a safe and productive environment for our customers, like Paul, who need an office environment to carry on with their important work.

Lessons learnt from the outbreak

“We’ve definitely made some changes, and I think long term it will all be for the better,” says Paul, “Zoom calls for clients and prospects has been the biggest eye-opener for us and not at all the impersonal barrier we imagined it to be before lockdown.”

Whilst Paul iterates that videoconferencing might not replace face to face networking, he appreciates the time saving abilities of screen sharing via video call, as well as making the client feel included in collaborating on projects.

“I’ve learned (or should I say re-learned) the power of collaboration. I’ve worked for a few some businesses I really trust for a few years now and the pandemic has put us in a situation where we are looking out for each other, which has been really beneficial.

Growing the business and re-adjusting to the office

Paul’s strategy looking forward is to continue to increase his customer base of local businesses through listening to his clients’ requirements and offering them great creative service – and great results – at a competitive price. “And in the current market,” he confirms, “You have to keep coming up with new ideas based on what the client has told you about what they want. At the end of the day it’s about combining the creative process with listening to your clients.”

The coronavirus pandemic has also prompted Paul to expand his team, commenting, “Right now I’m looking for a junior to join the team. I am networking in some local groups, both on Zoom and on social media platforms to raise the profile of the business, as well as revamping our website ready to have a push in the digital domain. I think the new ‘normal’ means we have to be prepared to market our businesses in a variety of ways.”

Having continued to work successfully throughout the pandemic, Mivvy Creative’s perseverance has made it clear that a stable client base can go a long way in challenging times. With continued unpredictable times ahead, Paul’s strategy and confidence in hiring new talent is sure to prepare Mivvy Creative for their influx of new, transformative projects.

To find out how Capital Space  virtual offices or business premises
could benefit your growing business,
call 0800 107 3667