Here at Beauty & Ruin we love to spotlight local business entrepreneurs as well as the best in local creative talents. We took some time to speak to Luke Cairns of Hightower Video which is a brighton based video production company.
What do you feel is particularly unique about starting and growing a business in Brighton?
Brighton is a fairly unique city in a number of different ways. For me as a video content producer, Brighton is great because of the range of creative people who live here. This has provided a rich seam of collaborators for my video projects over the last decade.
As far as starting a business is concerned, for someone without the benefit of rich parents or investment, Brighton was quite a tough place to launch a business. Rent has always been high and Brighton is actually the 16 most expensive place in Europe for cost of living. More generally speaking Brighton is tough for business owners that need a shop front, as rents for those are extremely expensive too.
More positively, you are amongst many entrepreneurial people in Brighton and networking events in all industries are ten a penny, so finding like minded people is fairly straightforward.Brighton’s proximity to London is another big plus – you can fly up to London on the train in an hour for client visits. (when the trains are behaving of course!)
Why is Brighton such a creative hub?
Brighton seems to attract a vast variety of creative people all every flavour you can imagine. This probably started all the way back when the Prince Regent build the pavilion and turned the small village of Brighthelmstone into a party town over 150 years ago. Creatives love to party – and this seems to have set a precedent that lasts to this day.
Couple this with two large universities and various colleges, attracting young creatives as well as the bracing sea air and large gay community – Brighton has become a melting pot of interesting people and ideas.
What advice would you give creatives thinking of starting a new company in Brighton?
Firstly I’d suggest consolidating your creative network. This can create opportunities and help expand your freelancer network. There are resources available (depending on what sort of business you want to start) including this website from Brighton & Hove Council and this from national government
Check out your opposition, see what they are offering and look to match and exceed. Be sure to have a unique selling point to differentiate yourself from the pack. If you want to start a company in Brighton, be assured that they will be plenty of opposition, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
As I mentioned above, be aware that personally and commercially, Brighton is an expensive place to exist. It’s very possible that you’ll need to supplement your income with a normal boring job part time. If you can stomach call centres, there are plenty available in Brighton, some of whom are willing to be flexible in terms of hours. They are only too aware that there are plenty of prospective small business owners that will really appreciate being able to work only when they want and need.
The last piece of advice is to never, ever give up. The landscape is littered with people with interesting and exciting business ideas who cave after a year or two because things don’t happen as quickly as they’d hope. Reality check – starting a business is bloody hard – and it’s only a tiny minority of businesses that become successful quickly. Stick to it and if your business plan is half way good – it’ll work eventually.
I saw a great film with Michael Keaton called “The Founder” – about the man who made McDonald’s a global behemoth. He wasn’t particularly talented at anything – but he had amazing persistence. If you’ve got persistence AND talent – you’ll do well!
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