Photographers Cat Burton and Ian Potter met on our very first Famous Grouse Ideas Centre (FGIC) Creative Accelerator in 2017. Fast-forward three years and the duo just moved their studios into the same building in Perth.
Here, we speak to them about their experience and the impact the programme has on not just their business, but each as business owners.
Tell us about you…
Cat: “I’m a creative photographer and digital artist. I make artworks inspired by fantasy, fairy-tales and folklore. I love to bring stories to life and help people escape into a magical representation of the world around us. I work with a number of clients across the UK, providing photography tuition, creative business advice and commissioned artworks.”
Ian: “LightPress Media and Design is basically a marketing material creation business: from photography, to graphic design and websites and short films. We're a one-stop-shop so that our clients don't have to explain their business multiple times (to a designer, then a photographer, then a website creator) and we find this setup works quite well.”
How did the FGIC Creative Accelerator impact you and your business?
Cat: “It gave me the tools and techniques which I still use regularly. I really like Business Model Canvas and still use it to brainstorm new business ideas and analyse where my business is currently at. I see all the documents I made while on the course as living documents, so I update them and pivot regularly. It’s important to stay flexible and reassess as your business grows or the world changes.”
Ian: “I think I saw it online and after initially dismissing it as ‘not for me’ I made some enquiries with the organisers and took the plunge. The obvious attraction for me was the fact it was for creatives; I don't ‘do’ jargon and corporate speak - much like most creatives, so it sounded like the Accelerator folk already knew their market.”
What was your biggest takeaway from the FGIC Creative Accelerator?
Cat: “The biggest thing for me was meeting a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who live locally. At the time I was new to Perth, and through the course I’ve met people who I now work with and who have also become my best friends. Those friendships have led to now having a studio/galley in the same building as Ian, we help each other daily and brainstorm ideas together; we even helped each other with the DIY of our new offices!
“I also learned that while advice and external perspectives are good to get you thinking about the big picture, it is you who knows your business better than anyone, so trust your gut instinct, pivot when needed and take all advice with a pinch of salt. If anything, that was a huge confidence boost and a very important lesson to learn.”
Ian: “I received plenty of advice and direction... but actually the biggest gain for me was friendship which continues beyond the course. There is a lot of things that just would not have happened or succeeded like they did.
“The best piece of advice I received was regarding the lack of premises and how I was taking a bigger risk by NOT having an office. I started the course with a five-year plan to make that happen. 12 weeks later I was standing doing my pitch at the end of the programme with keys to my office in my hands!”
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying?
Cat: “If you’re at the point where you’ve got a business and you’re unsure of how to take it to the next level, this is the programme for you.”
Ian: “There's nothing to lose. I didn't think the course was for me until I called up and got some lovely help and direction. It doesn't cost anything but the time commitment; everyone thinks they don't have time - this is something to make time for!”
The next FGIC Accelerator cohort is starting on 7th September, find out more and apply to be part of the programme here.
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