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The entrepreneur’s perspective

Interview with entrepreneurs talking about how they measure impact/align impact with their mission and vision
So, I’m Steve Compton, I’m a development consultant and work for complex development projects who are the developers of this scheme here in Fargo. And I do all their day to day development consultancy work. I look after all of the projects in terms of, you know, organising all of the professional team, sorting out all of the financing, grants, and all that kind of thing. And we just put it all together for the developer. So, here at Fargo, the purpose of Fargo Village really was sort of freefold. At the time when we sort of conceived the idea of Fargo Village we were conscious there was a good creative sector around Coventry.
You know, there’s a lot of people involved in that sector but it’s very desperate, very sort of scattered across Coventry. There’s no sort of physical hub for these people to get together and work together. The second part of it then was there was a real lack of available space for artists and creatives around Coventry, particularly at sort of affordable costs. So we were looking to create a hub somewhere in the city where they could all come and work together at unison where they can afford the rent and running costs.
And the third thing was part of the sort of bigger mission here which was to regenerate Far Gosford Street, because Far Gosford Street was one of the two remaining Medieval streets in Coventry. I mean, post-war it was the city centre effectively because the city centre was bombed out so all of the retail came in to Far Gosford Street so at one time you could buy absolutely anything in this street, you know, from shoes, furniture, food, anything.
So, the mission really was to A: regenerate the street, give it some renaissance, bring it back to life, and give it sort of a long-term sustainable future as a part of the city. And also as part of that there was a lot of heritage buildings in the streets, I mean, it was about refurbishing those and giving them a sustainable future as well. So, what we’ve done here is we’ve created fifty different units of different sizes. Now, anything from a small container which is about one hundred square feet, up to the biggest containers which is about sixteen hundred square feet. But the things like the containers they’re really affordable for our artists, they’re about fifty pound a week to rent.
So something that is really affordable for artists to get involved with. And as a result we’ve got a really diverse mix of creatives and artists and different people here. The way you look at impact, I think with something like Fargo, is there’s several different ways you look at it. And looking at the wider generation again, you know, Far Gosford Street and Fargo Village as a part of that, you know, we’ve seen the street change completely in the last five years and that’s a real measure of success as far as we’re concerned. And, you know, there’s a lot more people here, the crime rate has gone down, you have anti-social behaviour that has gone away.
So as a result, you know, the area has really been regenerated successfully. In terms of the village itself, what we wanted on the village in terms of success are things like how many new businesses are we attracting? Because that’s a key thing for us to, you know, creatives were working out of bedrooms and garages and stuff, bringing them into a physical hub like this where they can work together and how many new businesses could we create. And I think to date we have created something like about fourty five new businesses as a result of Fargo being here. And off the back of that, probably about sixty seventy new jobs were created for the city.
So in terms of measurability that’s a real success we think. So, it’s more than just a thing for Coventry, it’s now become quite a sort of regional hub for creative arts. So, my name’s Tayzia and I run Fantayzia Designs at Fargo Village in Coventry. It’s a shop where we have art which is made from scratch records which could be made bespoke to order. We sell records, second hand records, and also some new records which are film related, soundtrack related, and also video game related. We’ve got a video game corner where we have old consoles and games and accessories. And we also have a lot of local artist’s work in the shop as well to champion that on their behalf.
It’s difficult to have a mission which is very business focused which you would probably get with other businesses. And I thought about whether my mission is to achieve as an artist, this that and the other. And actually I’ve decided that my mission is to remind people to have fun. And that’s the essence, I think, of the shop here. It’s a reminder to reminisce but not stay in the past. To cling on to the moments of fun you had as a kid. And also, to be able to get things into people’s homes that are going to remind them of times that are nice and are happy.
And I think that happens here through the art that people can buy which is affordable hopefully to most people, can be bespoke for them, and remember that even though life gets difficult you can still have fun. I think measuring impact is a really difficult thing. I think it’s very easy to measure impact by the money that you’re taking in, and use that as a measure of your success. But I think it’s really easy to fall into that and I think actually it’s wider than that. These days obviously measuring impact, you can look a bit more at impact from a point of view of social media and that, particularly for a small business I think is really important.
But also just from feedback that you get from people when they talk to you, when people come into the shop and enjoy having a chat and regularly come back to have a chat and to look at new things that are in the shop. I think it’s really important to remember that but measuring that so the idea of measuring impact is really difficult but I think that’s where you look at the overall success of the business, not only from a point of view of your takings but also from a point of view from the customers that you have and how they interact with you.
And that’s got a lot easier with social media so people can leave reviews, people can share your posts and that’s a really good way of judging how well you’re impacting people. You know, I’ve had some customers who are like “oh I’m not on Facebook but I’m gonna go on Facebook so that I can leave a review or so that I can keep up to date with the things that are in the shop.” And that I think is a nice way of looking at things. And I think from a point of view of how that impacts the business going forward you can start to spot trends.
I mean, I’ve only been trading for just over around two and a half years, but you can certainly start to identify trends. So where you get a lot of likes on certain posts on social media that’s probably where you’re selling your most popular items or the most popular pieces of art. I think those two sort of feed into each other so they can reflect each other so if your social media is doing well you can use that to lead sales. If the sales are going well then you can use that to direct your social media. So, it’s a relationship between the two I think.
My name’s Kate Rossin, I’m the co-owner of the Print Manufactory, which is a print making studio in Coventry based at Fargo Village. I run it alongside my business partner John Randall, we’re both creatives who’ve worked in the city for the last fifteen years. He’s a film maker, I’m a photographer, both of us at times have had studios at the canal based warehouse and last year we decided to build this place. So our mission with Print Manufactory is to build a space that encouraged print making in a variety of forms in Coventry, so both with in terms of photographic printing and screen printing and hopefully that will keep developing over the years.
It was all about producing things that were tactile so though we appreciate the digital sides of photography and graphics illustration, that kind of thing, we decided that we wanted to have something that was a little bit more physical, tactile or something you could take away with you. And we felt that Coventry was kind of missing that, so we decided to build something that not only allowed people to use the facilities but also encourage people to collaborate. We wanted to foster, sort of, most like a community and to sort of build on those collaborations with different people hopefully help their practice, develop their practice.
So we’ve aimed it at either people who are just starting out, you know, in photography or printing, screen printing, and then we’ve also sort of aimed at people who have been doing it for a long period of time and are just looking for somewhere they can go and work either in the evenings or weekends. For other artists maybe just develop their practice a little bit more so that they are trying new things and see how they can build it to what they’re currently doing. So, in terms of how we measure our impact, we sat out to achieve fifty members at the end of year one. So we’re six months in and we’ve got thirty two members.
So, we’re very much on track to meet our first target. I think as time were spent here we’ve realised that tracking our impact needs to probably widen more not just be how many members we’ve actually got but how often they use the space, what it is they’re actually getting out of it. So, what we’ve decided in the last couple of weeks is just to start, sort of, opening up more of a discussion with our members and find if there’s things we could improve and things that we can change. Not just to provide a sort of more accessibility for them to use the space more often but to help us then market it for new members as well.

Watch the interview with entrepreneurs Steve Compton, Tayzia Trotter and Kate Rossin sharing their views on how they measure impact and how they ensure that impact measurement informs their mission and strategy.

Your task

Focus on one entrepreneur and answer the following questions:

  • What is their mission?
  • What is their strategy to achieve that mission?
  • How do they measure their impact?
  • What challenges do you think they might face in measuring impact, and how could they learn from this?

Share your answers in the comments. Explore what other learners are saying and reply with your own ideas.

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Measuring Entrepreneurial Impact

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