Welcome to another installment of my Spotlight on Series, bringing you stories of business success from all across the UK and from a variety of different sectors, straight from the mouth of the people who run them!
This week I'm very excited to have someone who is a real example of the fact that that getting into the education sector doesn't just have to be about following the traditional teacher training route!
There are lots of people who are currently innovating in this sector, as it offers massive opportunities to support existing educational institutions in delivering education in new and different formats, which suit a variety of learning styles.
Colin is also a great example of someone who has taken his experience from working within a large organisation and used it to develop his own business. This is something that I think is becoming increasingly more common, as people spot opportunities which perhaps large companies/public bodies aren't agile enough to act upon.
I would also like to absolutely second Colin's advice on getting out of the home office and finding a space to work outside your home. This is especially important for those who don't even have a home office to escape too, because separating your home space from your work space will massively help your work/life balance (trust me, I've been there!)
So without further ado, over to Colin!
Name: Colin Jackson
Business Name: Creative Learning Partnerships
Age of business: 4 years
So, please explain your mission at Creative Learning Partnerships?
We know the value of creativity. Children and young people should expect the opportunity to experience quality cultural activities, whether it’s at school or in their own time. We work with schools, artists, charities, cultural organisations and commercial companies to develop, deliver and evaluate projects and initiatives that nurture creativity and make the most of the arts as a tool for learning. We work with teachers, artists and students from universities across the region to develop a theoretical understanding of creative teaching & learning and applied arts practice.
Our work is diverse. It’s not just about arts workshops in schools (although we do these!), it’s about supporting, promoting and delivering creative opportunities - from training to delivery to evaluation. We’ve worked in both the education and cultural sectors so understand the opportunities and challenges of both.
What were you doing before you set up your business and what made you take the leap into starting your own venture?
I worked at City of York Council as Arts Education Consultant for many years before being made redundant. Rather than let the projects and initiatives developed during my time at the Council wither away, I wanted to take them further and try out some of the ideas people said wouldn’t/couldn’t work. They did!
Have you had any setbacks? What have you learnt from them?
Trying to do too much at first. A full diary doesn’t always mean success. You can spread yourself too thin. It’s quality that brings back clients and customers.
What is the single achievement that you are most proud of and how did you manage it?
We’ve developed projects and festivals that were local to York into regional and national initiatives. We’re helping to put York on the map as a city that fosters creative opportunities for children and young people.
If you could start again, what would you do differently? (if anything!)
Working from home can be a minefield. Even if you can’t afford office space (or similar), take the time to work somewhere else if your business allows it - get to know your library, coffee shops and friendly haunts.
What would be your number one tip for someone thinking about starting their own business?
It’s all about relationships. Those conversations that happened weeks, months or years ago can often spawn unexpected results further down the line. Make the networks work for you and if they’re not there already, create them.
Do you have any big projects / plans for 2016 that we should know about?
The Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival will be staged again in November at Central Hall, the University of York. Last year around 600 children and young people from 30 schools took part. This year will be even bigger with some grand plans to link schools with professional dance companies.
I’m leading on the development of a cultural education partnership for York to help further develop opportunities for young people as well as leading on the engagement and learning ambitions for York’s designation as a UNESCO City of Media Arts. Watch out for the York Culture Awards - I’m on the judging panel.
We’re going international - watch this space!
Do you have an exciting business story to share? Get in touch for the chance to be featured in my next Spotlight On post!