2024 Design & Business pulse check across the creative sector for Aotearoa NZ, Australia, and the UK.

3 weeks ago by

For the month of May we’re putting a focus on Design &…Business with featured thought leadership articles, events & workshops, and design projects. Join our Design Industry leadership events and workshops coming up this month – DA Lunch Clubs ( AKL & WLG ) and Happier, Healthier Business Canvas ( AKL & WLG )

Overall, there has definitely been anecdotal feedback around the slowing down of briefs, budget and sign-off, across Australia, NZ and the UK.

It seems that briefs and opportunities are still out there, but some of the urgency has slowed and budgets seem a little tighter. This ultimately seems to be driven by ongoing economic uncertainty. It’s given some businesses the opportunity to work on themselves, but it has in turn put pressure on the new business pipeline.

For smaller businesses / freelancers the pinch was felt a little harder and at Streamtime we saw some close / join / merge with larger agencies. In the UK (as quoted in the Benchpress survey) 58% of agencies had to make a decision to reduce staff / freelance costs in the last year. While many agencies remained profitable, there was still an overall average decline that’s continuing from the effects of 2020/21.

In the past, the general advice has often been to find your niche. While this still has some merit, it’s becoming more and more a case of being cautious about putting all your eggs in one basket. To build more robust plans it may well be worth looking at how to extend that niche through additional departments / work in existing clients, or similar services across a more diverse set of industry verticals. Looking at this as a more deliberate strategy can help to balance a portfolio of clients and profitability.

On the people front, people are increasingly sensitive to how they’re treated / rewarded as an employee. Psychosocial hazard legislation in Australia is slowly being recognised as something that employers are accountable for. While there is reference to it in NZ legislation there is still little guidance, but it will inevitably build as either an expectation or legislation in its own right. 

There’s no need to wait for this though. We just need to get a bit better at professionalising the people side of operations. Job descriptions are a good start, but how about role progression plans, an evaluation of fairness and happiness across your teams, and even how work and roles are designed to get the best outcome for profit and people?

Some of these latter themes form core elements of the Happier, Healthier Business Canvas that we developed with Carol Mackay and Greg Branson from the Design Business Council. ( Coming to Pōneke and Tāmaki Makaurau in May 2024. ) The Canvas can be used as a diagnostic tool for investigating, diagnosing and actioning solutions to specific pain points that you’ve identified in your business. You might start with questions like, “How are we so busy, but only just breaking even?”, or “Why isn’t this person performing, they were so good in their interview and at their previous company?” or “How do I take our business to the next level.”

I can’t wait to discuss some of these themes and more in the upcoming Happier, Healthier Business Canvas workshops and at the DA Lunch Club events ( WLG and AKL ) with Design Assembly in May.


About the Author

Andy is the Managing Director at Streamtime. Previously a co-founder of For The People who designed the new Streamtime. Andy is charged with making sure we’re making the best possible product to help creatives and the creative industry to be as successful as possible.

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