creative entrepreneur

Lean Methodology & Creative Industries – How creative entrepreneurs can transform their ideas into sustainable businesses

HELEN SIMONDSON, Head of ACMI X Co-Working Space and Foundry658 Lead at ACMI

A startup ecosystem is critical to entrepreneurship: it offers tools, advice, networks and support often via meetups, incubators, business accelerators and co-working spaces. During my time managing ACMI X, the first Museum led creative industries co-working space in Australia, it has become clear that few creative practitioners engage directly with startup culture.

This is reinforced by how few creative industries business accelerators there are in the world.

With so many scalable creative business ideas out there and an industry valued at $23b in Victoria alone, we’re thrilled to redefine the role of creatives in the startup space and demystify the business process for entrepreneurial artists through the Foundry658 accelerator program.

Best practice startup programs employ the lean methodology. And when delivered as a practical business accelerator, founders can gain measurable business traction in a very short space of time.

Lean originated in Silicon Valley, the epicenter for innovation tech and the startup world. Seasoned Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Blank and later Eric Riess, distilled the entrepreneur’s experience, along with lessons from lean manufacturing and agile management to formulate the Lean Startup Methodology.

Lean turns traditional business methods on its head. Rather than starting with a business model, the entrepreneur goes to market in search of a business model.

The genius of the method is in the searching. By testing assumptions and analysing the market feedback, it offers a clever roadmap to get products and services to market, often much faster and cheaper than traditional business processes.

You don’t need years of business experience. It is a simple repeatable method that focuses on creating products and services that have a strong market fit. A compelling way to build a sustainable and ultimately scalable business.

It has been fascinating to see how our Foundry658 teams ‘take to lean’. While the method is straight forward, the difficultly lies in the paradigm shift required by the creative founders.

Many thrive on collaboration, they constantly iterate and can very resourcefully get their products to market (all part of the entrepreneurial tool kit). But they find the premise of going out to market to validate their initial idea challenging.

Those with a background in design thinking are strong at the experiment design (build and learn), process but often have not had the experience of the first critical step in ‘lean’, which is to sense check their concept, finding a clear problem:solution fit.

For those who are used to generating ideas they find the initial customer discovery stage fairly alien, but as they step up to the challenge and gather the feedback data, they gain more confidence and nuance about their product or service. Every step supports their burgeoning journey as a creative entrepreneur.