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Posted by Sebastian Carru at 0:00 - 0 Comments

Managing this project, for the development of the community of small businesses, with my peers at ESCP Europe, was possibly the hardest challenge of all during my Master.

Not only because it was hard to empathize with high street managers but also because we needed to show them concrete chances of short term results. In other words, it was hard to convey our "enterprise-case-studies-based" knowledge into something of value, something relevant for small businesses.


In her article on the Financial Times, Marketing and Creativity MSc co-director Meg Lee, gives a nice overview of the project. Putting emphasis on how this type of project can be beneficial to not only business owners but also MBAs.

On my side I learned three main things from speaking with around 50 businesses:

1. Digital Transformation for SMEs is not as simple as it looks on paper. Mainly because of lack of competences and time to dedicate. A lot of these business do not even have a website. They would like to have one, but they do not have the knowledge to create one or even the money to pay for.

2. Their focus is on short term "tactics" that can provide result immediately. While long term strategies sound like baloney. The willing to change the world does not make a small business successful.

3. They have deep understanding of their usual clientele, but struggle to attract new customers. The long lasting relationships created with the neighborhood are very strong, not only with customers but also other businesses. The new customers (lets call them "millennials" for the sake of it), they want to attract, are moving to online shopping and do not see them as a convenient alternative anymore.

It is all these boundaries that really force you to get creative and solve the challenges that businesses have. Having big budgets or big data is not a thing and that is why you can learn so much with this kind of experience. The same creative process, I believe, can be applied successfully to bigger sized companies or startups, that are trying to win in their industries or to achieve competitive advantage.

"Out of all limitations comes creativity"

Fun fact: A lady I met, owner of a pharmacy, very tough and stubborn walked me "politely" out of her shop with this line: "30 years of experience, and a bunch of students wants to teach me how to run my shop?! see you later.".

Sebastian Carru is Business Development Cloud & Cognitive at IBM & MSc in Marketing and Creativity Student.

Feeling inspired ed by Sebastian's blog? To follow in his footsteps, check out ESCP Europe and its Marketing & Creativity programmes:

MSc in Marketing & Creativity
Executive Master in Marketing & Creativity
Creative London Summer Course

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