When you get busy does your creativity take a nose dive?

One of the most productive people in our Drive network is Andy Boothman.

Andy runs two businesses, Busy as AB – a successful 20 year old branding and design agency, and Dress Code Shirts, launched in September 2018 as Andy’s first venture into manufacturing. Andy is an active hands on parent to two small children, and still makes time for his favourite leisure actitivites, as well as being a prodigous networker and Group Leader for Drive.

We asked Andy to start by telling us what he’s good at and then invited questions:

Andy Boothman Ok, here goes…things I’m good at, I’ll start with the obvious

CREATIVITY is my greatest strength without a doubt, I deliver it with

ENTHUSIASM and HUMANITY.

PLANNING & TIME MANAGEMENT would have to be quite high on the list, as I’m only content when there’s loads to do. If there’s a gap in the flow my productivity plummets, so you could also say that I’m easily distracted 🙂

The things people are less likely to know…GOOD LISTENER/SUPPORTER

I’m passionate about EQUALITY and BEING HUMAN in business, there’s way too much talk of ai and automation leading everything, when IMO understanding and connecting with people is where the ‘power’ lies.

Some lesser known skills that are just as important to me include PILATES, BARRE and MINDFULNESS. Looking after your body and mind is so important. I learnt a long time ago that you need to put yourself first now and then, as there’s not many people who will put you before them

Helen Lindop Andy, what are the key things you see small businesses getting wrong with their branding?

Andy Boothman I think the biggest issue I see are businesses trying to be something to everyone which leads to them being nothing to no-one. Having a great idea is just the start of a very long road, understanding who, where and when people will want your product or service is key.

When choosing a name there are many things to think about, doing your research is KEY. Check companies house, check the IPO register, check the domain competition and last and most important check that the name actually means something human.

Helen Lindop I hear a lot of small businesses say things like “How can I possibly post interesting stuff on social media, day in, day out? I’ll be out of ideas in a week!” yet I’ve seen you post almost daily about Dress Code on Twitter and Instagram for months now, it’s always creative and interesting. Any tips for people who are feeling uninspired when trying to come up with content for their business?

Andy Boothman It’s interesting that you bring this point forward. The Dress Code social feeds have been done like this on purpose. Yes we sell shirts, but what those shirts ‘do’ in terms of function is vast. I also feel that DC is a creative source/expression so sharing the things that we find visually stimulating/interesting or quirky starts to give the brand depth and humanity. There’s things about DC that are expressed in the products, but it’s bigger than the shirts, it’s about an outlook and an approach to life.

It’s also a genuine experiment that has had both positive and negative feedback from my contemporaries. We will see what happens…

Martin Smallridge So, you’re exploring the idea of “Customers don’t buy from stores, they buy from people” and working out how to inject your personality and traits via a largely impersonal medium?

Andy Boothman Amongst other things Martin 🙂

Louise Lee May I ask how you’ve managed to (successfully) juggle AB and DC and what systems / support you have in place to help you. You said you’re good at planning and time management however I refuse to believe you do all this fabulous stuff on your own 🙂

Andy Boothman Guilty as charged 🙂 Planning has always been a central theme in the success of the design business. We won a lot of respect from clients over the years by taking their piles of mess and sorting them into system, putting a framework around what they were doing as a business and holding them to account for what they need to do to make it work. I’ve used lots of systems, one of my favourites is Slack, we use this all day everyday. It’s great for keeping up to speed on projects with clear lines of sight through all aspects of what we’re delivering. We have also integrated with various client systems including Trello, Hubspot and Salesforce.

DC is run separate to the other business. It does use Slack and Hubspot (as recommended by you – thank you) profusely. Are either of these super slick all the time – no, the wheels come off now and again, and we’re still very much in the learning phase with DC. And we still learn things on the design front too.

The most valuable assets around all of this are the people. Finding and connecting with your go to bods, developing a working relationship with them and knowing that you have one anothers back is without doubt the single greatest strength you can have, I believe.

Ann Hawkins How do you organise your time Andy? As you are sometimes the sole parent in charge of a young family, do you hard landscape all your essential activities like family commitments, your own health and fitness, entertainment etc and then fit business around those things?

Andy Boothman Most of the time I’d say that was the case. The main reason that I operate the business from home was to give me flexibility – particularly around family. My children are still both young – under 6 and you never really quite know what’s going to happen next, being here, rather than in an office 20-30 minutes away gives me great flex.

There’s times when this goes the other way as well. Clients ringing in the evening etc. The phone isn’t answered and they can sometimes be a bit offended by the lack of response, but experience taught me along time ago, that jumping through other peoples hoops never gets you anywhere in the long run. Yes we all need to be flexible, but when you’re home based you also need to be strict with yourself – there’s so many potential distractions.

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Andy is about to launch yet another development of Dress Code Shirts, incorporating wearable tech to compliment his tech inspired designs so follow developments at Dress Code Shirts!  and follow Andy on Twitter @AndyBoothman