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
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
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
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
Feeling inspired ed by Sebastian's blog? To follow in
his footsteps, check out ESCP Europe and its Marketing &
MSc in Marketing & Creativity
Executive Master in Marketing &
Creative London Summer Course