Guest blog: Food for Thought

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When it comes to creativity in business, staying ahead of the curve is a constant challenge. Writer and business owner Clare Howdle swears by taking a good Feed…

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Being a successful creative professional takes hard work. Whatever you do, from design to copywriting, PR to web development, ideas are the currency on which your business thrives. Framed by skills, insight and experience, it’s these ideas that stand you out from your competitors, win tenders and convince clients you not only understand the problems they face, but know how best to resolve them.

Protecting the generation and quality of these ideas should be front of mind for any creative outfit, whether an individual freelancer or a 50 strong agency. But all too often the everyday essentials get in the way. With admin, invoicing, meetings, pitching, quoting and people management – not to mention the all-important delivery of top-notch client work – dominating your working hours, carving out time to be inspired can fall to the bottom of the list.

But there is a different way. A way of recognising the value of creativity and investing in it so that it pays dividends. A way of making space to be inspired. A way of keeping your team motivated and bringing insight and innovation to the table, on every project.

At Stranger Collective we call it Feeding.

Once every 10 days our full-time team members take time away from client work to explore, think and create. To discover something new. To research something that excites them. To go to an exhibition, dive into that book they’ve been meaning to read, learn a new skill. Whatever they do, they record it, share it with the team and blog about it. It feeds their curiosity and their creativity. It fires them up, keeps them connected with the world around them and triggers lightbulb moments aplenty.

All our part-time and freelance staff Feed too, in different proportions, so everyone gets a chance to look beyond the boundaries of the work they’re doing and find a fresh perspective. Together we are all better thinkers, writers and creators because of it. So our business benefits.

Feeding is not a new idea. Forward thinking companies have been doing something similar for years. From lifestyle brands like Patagonia, to technology giants like Google, businesses worldwide have seen the value in giving their people the space to create. But when you’ve got a small business to run, with deadlines hanging over you and a bottom line to meet, justifying a concept like Feeding can feel like a gap too far to bridge.

There’s no denying it takes investment – of time and of budget – and it requires a serious level trust to feel confident everyone will use their Feeding time effectively. You have to put systems in place to ensure client work is still the priority and that there are no gaps when it comes to delivery, meetings and deadlines. You might even need to analyse the value of Feeding for board members, set against tenders won, projects elevated, revenue generated or even team members upskilled.

However, for businesses that do take the leap, the rewards are worth it. We’ve sharpened what we can offer our existing clients and won new work because of Feeding. We’ve grown our team, boosted staff loyalty and marked out our territory as a creative agency that truly is creative. Clients value it, our team thrives off it and our work is better as a result.

But most of all, Feeding means we remain curious, we remain connected and we remain inspired. Which means we love what we do. Surely that’s what being a creative professional in Cornwall is all about?

About the author:

Clare Howdle is partner and co-founder of copywriting and content agency Stranger Collective.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Matt, glad you enjoyed it. A great example of a recent Feed that informed our work was one of my recent Feeds on quantum physics, triggered by an episode of Horizon. Check out what I found out here – http://stranger-collective.com/that-ol-ball-of-string-feeding-on-string-theory/

    Before long, my Feed was useful, directly informing a new customer magazine concept for one of our clients, focused around the notion that every holiday is made up of the same strands but those strands combine in infinite ways to create unique experiences.

    From string theory to unique getaways, in one tasty Feed!

  2. Hi Clare,

    Really interesting article and I’d heard about Google having these initiatives but I do like the term ‘feeding’. Can you possibly give an example of a recent ‘feeding’ session that led to a positive outcome please?

    Thanks Again,

    Mat Taylor

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