A Barnsley-based creative agency which sought to showcase the artistic awesomeness of their home town is setting its sights on using their skills to support new entrepreneurs in the region after rising to the challenges posed by lockdown to enjoy a record year of growth.
Graphic designer Dan Rose launched creative agency We Are Awesome in 2016 when the marketing agency he worked for closed its doors. During his time at the agency, Dan met his future business partner Chris Endcliffe. As Dan embarked upon his new business venture, the friends kept in touch and by 2018 they decided to join forces.
With the long term aim of delivering a full range of marketing agency services, the combination of Dan’s creative knowledge and Chris’ technical expertise proved to be a winning formula. As Dan concentrated upon helping their growing client base to stand out from the crowd, Chris began pioneering a custom-built content management system, helping people with limited IT skills to manage their own websites and marketing campaigns. With ambitious plans to build the business further, Dan approached Launchpad to help them look at ways of scaling their business idea and creating a company which was capable of showcasing the talents of South Yorkshire’s creative community.
Working alongside experienced business adviser Ben Hawley, the programme provided the entrepreneurial duo with access to a wide range of workshops and masterclasses, helping them to understand their new roles as business owners and the steps needed to build and grow their business by adding new members of staff to their workforce, as well as expanding its service offering.
The approach paid off. Today, We Are Awesome which is headquartered Barnsley’s DMC01 has built an impressive client base which includes clients in the entertainment, healthcare and education sectors including Warner Music, the University of Sheffield and the Barnsley Hospital Charitable Trust as well as supporting many new entrepreneurs taking the first steps on their own business journey.
When the National Lockdown hit in March, Dan and Chris returned to the plans they made with the Launchpad team. Recognising many more people had chosen to turn to self-employment as a result of redundancy, they began reviewing the start-up services offered by the business and developed a dedicated support package, helping new business owners to build their own businesses.
Over the past twelve months Awesome has enjoyed a level of growth beyond its wildest dreams and has also added a number of new services to its agency offering including marketing, virtual tours and bespoke software products. The company has also successfully recruited a number of talented freelancers, which it collaborates with regularly to meet demand in the new services being delivered by the business.
Dan said: “I first met Chris when we worked together at a previous company. We realised that we had complimenting skill sets and often talked about collaborating together in the future. Like many people, I launched the business back in 2016 because I wanted to use my skills to earn a living for myself, but from the outset it way my vision to build a business capable of offering a full range of marketing services.
“As my freelance business grew, Chris and I decided to join forces. We both had a clear idea what we wanted to achieve with our business, but we weren’t really sure how to realise the full potential in the business idea. Running a business can often mean juggling many different priorities. Although I felt confident we could deliver a good service for our clients, I knew there was a world of difference between being good at your job and running a business.
“Working with Ben really opened our eyes and see the potential in our business model. He understood the sector and the sessions helped us to try and find answers to the questions we were asking without his advice being prescriptive. It made us question many parts of the way we ran the business and over time we revisited the changes to understand the impact they had on the business.
“At the beginning of lockdown, we knew our business would need to adapt again, so we revisited many of the lessons we had learned during the time we spent with Launchpad. The workshops helped us to gain a stronger understanding of what it takes to run a successful business, whilst our one-to-one sessions with Ben helped us to apply those lessons to our own company.
“Working with Launchpad helped us to build a much stronger business and even during a particularly challenging time for many, we’ve continued to enjoy a period of organic growth. It’s one of the reasons why we decided to do our bit to support new business owners, by launching a new package of support to help start-ups which opened their doors during the pandemic.
Ben said: “One of the most common pitfalls many new business owners can make is assuming that simply because you have a great product, or deliver a fantastic service, it will automatically translate into business success. Coming from an agency background both Dan and Chris knew it was vital to get the fundamentals right, particularly when it came to managing projects and members of staff.
“They spent time putting every aspect of their business under the microscope, regularly reviewing the decisions they made, the impact it had upon the business, and how they could adapt and improve. This willingness to adapt and respond has helped their company to adapt so effectively to a changing business environment. At a time when many businesses struggled, they prospered, and are even using their skills to help others embarking upon their own entrepreneurial journey.”
Launchpad is the Sheffield City Region’s key business support programme for new business. Financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Prince’s Trust, the programme provides free help and support in the form of access to workshops, masterclasses and one-to-one help with experienced business advisers to individuals who are thinking of starting their own business, or working in small companies and looking to scale their ideas.