Starting next month, there will be a new contributor to the Folksy blog. Coming on board to help designers and makers with business problems big and small is none other than (anticipatory drum roll please) . . . entrepreneur extraordinaire and former Dragon Doug Richard. Doug will be on hand to answer even the most tricky of dilemmas in our new monthly feature What Would Doug Do?
Whatever your business dilemma, if you’re stuck on price-points, inundated with too many orders, struggling to find stockists, or about to go global and scared, this is your chance to ask Doug what he would do. You can tweet your dilemmas via twitter to @folksy and @CreativeS4S using the hashtag #wwdd, post them on our Facebook page, or email them to email@example.com. We’ll then pick the best ones, and put them to Doug.
One maker already under his spell is Emma Read from Folksy Shop Startled Hare. She heard Doug talk at the Folksy Summer School, took to heart the wisdom of his teachings, converted to veganism (that bit may or may not be true), and went home to make a W.W.D.D. bracelet (pictured above in all its beauty) as a daily reminder not to undersell herself, and to think more like Doug. Here is her account of her first encounter with the man himself…
“Two months on from the Folksy Summer School, and one particular speaker’s teachings are still echoing in my ears. ‘STOP APOLOGISING!’ comes the exasperated cry from the front of the tent, ‘from today none of you are going to apologise for anything again’. It is the last day of the Folksy Summer School and the atmosphere in our colourful tenty classroom is one of cheerful mental overload. A weekend choc-a-bloc with talks from creative business experts has culminated in headline speaker Doug Richard, the entrepreneur probably best known for his stint on Dragons’ Den and now head of the School for Creative Startups.
Doug is a charismatic, straightforward and no-nonsense speaker. He berates us in amused tones for our very British and apologetic attitude to pricing. How do we know someone won’t pay top dollar for our product if we don’t try charging it, he tells us. And, of course, he is right. I often find myself knocking down my own prices before listing them on a website. Another attendee admits that she offers people a discount from the off, before any negotiations have taken place. You can imagine the response this elicits from Mr Richard.
As if someone has whacked us over the head with a wet fish, we collectively realise that we have been planning for failure rather than planning for success. Failure happens, Doug explains. And while it’s all very well preparing for failures, we must not shoot ourselves down before we’ve taken off. Planning for success involves ensuring you have the facilities to cope with huge orders when (not if) they start rolling in.
So, following this, I have converted to the holy teachings of Mr Richard. No more apologising. Whenever I find myself wavering about a business decision, I ask myself ‘what would Doug do?’ Whenever I am about to quail from asking the price that a product deserves, I take a glance at my W.W.D.D. bracelet and my resolve hardens. What would Doug do? Well, he’d go out there and kick some bottom, that’s what he’d do. Admittedly he’d probably use stronger language than that. Have I mentioned how much I love a man who swears?
Doug Richard is the founder of School for Creative Startups which offers interactive, hands-on courses delivering no-nonsense business know-how for creative people. You can follow @creatives4s to receive daily pearls of wisdom for creative entrepreneurs.
Don’t forget to submit your business dilemmas using the hashtag #wwdd.