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The results were welcomed by the Prime Minister. David Cameron said: “When it comes to creativity, British talent and expertise has made this country the envy of the world. More than most, this is a sector that thrives on being open to the world outside. Whether it’s bringing in talent, filming on location or simply having access to the Single Market of 500 million people across Europe. The results of Creative Industries Federation’s survey are clear: we are better off in a reformed European Union than out on our own. To leave would be a leap in the dark.”

Sir John SorrellSays DBA CEO Deborah Dawton, “70% of our members export their design services overseas and maintaining access to European markets is obviously of major concern, with 90% of members citing this as a factor in their intention to vote ‘Remain’. With the UK design industry renowned globally for delivering both quality creative and commercial effectiveness, our members are clear that ‘Remain’ is the best option to ensure our sector can continue to capitalise on this reputation to trade ever more successfully in the European market.”

Sir John Sorrell, chairman of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “The UK creative industries are key to the way we are seen by the world and deliver a massive £84.1bn to our economy. Our position as a vital European creative hub is a huge part of this success – we benefit from a vast network of talented people, companies and institutions across Europe.”

On launch of the survey, the Prime Minister met with the Federation board members and other key figures from the sector to discuss the forthcoming EU referendum and the needs of the creative industries. The DBA’s membership of CIF and DBA CEO Deborah Dawton’s role on CIF’s Advisory Council continues to enable our members and the design industry to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other arts, creative and cultural industries in proactively shaping the future of the sector, and to be at the heart of the discussions and decisions around policy matters that could directly affect DBA members.

Summary of DBA member response to CIF’s Europe Survey

36% of respondents were based in Greater London, with the others spread throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

Q. If you were asked to vote in the EU referendum today, how would you vote (on the basis of the needs and priorities of your business)? Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

90% Remain a member of the European Union

10% Leave the Union

Q. How important is membership of the EU to the future of your organisation?

24% Very important

31% Quite important

29% Neutral

10% Not very important

7% Irrelevant

Q. Which, if any, of the following issues contributes to your current thinking on how you might vote?

90% Access to markets

51% Access to talent

38% Regulation

27% National identity

11% Access to finance

For more information on the Creative Industries Federation click here.

DBA are members of the Creative Industries Federation.

Images supplied by: Creative Industries Federation

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What are the options for the all important succession plan? And what needs to be in place for it to work?
  1. When first writing a plan you don’t have to have a definitive end goal in mind. The timing and type of exit do not need to be defined. You just need to have a plan to make sure your agency is in a position so that those decisions can be made further down the line.
  2. You need to be able to prove that the business can operate without you. Otherwise what are you selling? If you are an essential part of the business and you are leaving, what would a buyer be getting? If, with only 6 months notice, you can’t take a 6 month sabbatical from your business then it is not ready for sale.
  3. Process and delegation are key to getting your agency to the point where you can exit. Everyone in the agency should understand their role within it. The way your output is developed should be formalised and everyone brought into it. It should become second nature for all – and manageable without you in it.

So you think your agency can now run without you? But how do you prove it? Financial acumen is the main factor dictating the sale or takeover of an agency. The buyer doing due diligence wants to make sure that they are buying a financially secure business. You can illustrate this through having years’ worth of financial data going into detail such as profitability by client, income per staff head, utilisation rates, accurate sales pipeline predictions etc.

Once you have made yourself dispensable, and you have enough financial data to satisfy the most ardent analyst what are your options?

Outright sale – this could be to a holding group (such as WPP or the numerous smaller entities), or to another independent looking to grow through acquisition. Think laterally – Marketing and PR businesses might be looking to extend their reach into the design sector, specialist agencies in one discipline might be looking to broaden their scope.

Management buy-out – this offers increased continuity for clients, but the right people need to have been brought into the business at the right time to share the journey.

Staff ownership – the “John Lewis” model. Offering share incentives on a smaller scale are a good introduction to this. Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) option schemes are a tax efficient way of allowing individuals to own part of the company – and can lock in key staff through the succession process.

Sale to a client – an option that was highlighted in 2015 with the high-profile acquisition of Seren by EY (formerly Ernst & Young). These agencies either tend to be highly strategic in their output, or can slip into the in-house design team role, so often have one large dominant client already.

Regardless of the option chosen there will probably be a tie-in clause which keeps the owner(s) actively involved with the business for a number of years to ensure continuity. This can be the hardest part for the owner who has relinquished control. Ensure that the negotiations around this part are thorough so everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

Those who have successfully exited their business find that their financial security gives them creative freedom to make choices for the future. This might involve starting again, or finding a new way – remaining small and concentrating on the bits that got you interested in the design business in the first place.

Expert advice

Running a business can be challenging and sometimes, external advice is required. The Experts on our register have a track record and appreciation of what matters and what works for designers, their clients and their businesses, and can help you with a wide range of issues. Go to our register of Experts.

Annual Survey Report

This valuable tool can help you benchmark against your peers and provides context to your fee structure when dealing with clients. Go to Annual Survey.

About: Adam Fennelow

Adam Fennelow is Head of Services at the DBA.

For more information on DBA membership click here.
E: adam.fennelow@dba.org.uk

 

Image credits: © pic.r Dreamstime.com

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About BEDA

beda logoBEDA’s 46 professional design and trade association members, from 25 member states, represent about 400,000 individuals designers across Europe.

BEDA is deeply involved in the shaping of policy for Europe and in raising awareness of the importance of design as a business tool. It aims to educate politicians to understand that design can be an enabler for change and to improve competitiveness for European industry. Ultimately, it wants an improved life for European citizens, through design.

As a result of many years successful lobbying in Brussels, today, design is part of the innovation policy for Europe called Innovation Union 2020.

Events and resources

BEDA members account for the majority of all design activities undertaken at a national and regional level across Europe. The Events Calendar highlights just a few of the diverse activities taking place to promote design, to educate companies about the benefits of design and to raise the awareness of the impact of design in our every day lives.

BEDA members also publish a huge amount of material that covers everything from national surveys and scoping reports to policy documents and thought leadership pieces. BEDA has also published several reports on design in Europe today, which can be downloaded.

News

Click here to subscribe to BEDA’s e-news to be kept up to date with what is going on across Europe.

 

Image supplied by: European Commission | BEDA

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“This is our 3rd Design Effectiveness Awards win for Buster, which we’re immensely proud of and it’s helped cement Buster’s position as a category game changer. We’ve got room in the cabinet for another though!”

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DBA Design Effectiveness Awards

Judged by business leaders and entered jointly by client and designer, the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards are both rigorous and authoritative. They celebrate the power of design to drive business success and provide compelling proof of why design is a sound commercial investment.

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