Bognor Regis Creative Digital Hub | Creative digital businesses share tips for success at January meet-up “Get Set For A Successful Year”
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Creative digital businesses share tips for success at January meet-up “Get Set For A Successful Year”

24th January saw the Bognor Regis Hub’s first Community Check-in event of 2017. Over 45 local business people met at The Dome at Chichester University’s Bognor Regis campus, to hear from the panel of local creative talent.  The theme for discussion was ‘How are you planning for success in 2017?”?’.

Before the panel discussion got underway, there was the chance for some informal networking, which was helped along the way by a Wired Sussex mapping exercise.  The activity involved everyone plotting heir most important goals for 2017 on a wall chart (see below diagram).  The mix of results revealed that the top three things our community will be focusing on this year are:

  1. Promote myself and my company better’,
  2. Grow my Client or Customer base’,
  3. Improve my cashflow

It looks like most people have clear ambitions for the year ahead.

We had a great panel line up for the event which was hosted by Rebecca Groves from Wired Sussex:

  • Jen Smith: Social Media Advisor for small businesses
  • Sarah Cunliffe, Managing Director of Big Wave TV: award-winning documentary makers
  • Aaron Buckley: Designer and ex-Creative Director at Firebox
  • Bill Strohacker: Designer and Founder of the Strohacker Design School
  • Toyubar Rahman: Bognor Regis Town Centre Manager

The panel shared their aspirations, goals and resolutions for 2017. The varied responses reflected the differences between the work the panelists do and the life-stages of their organisations but all shared a common goal: to improve the day-to-day running of their business.

Sarah Cunliffe from Big Wave talked about wanting to make more conservation films and sticking to her resolution of ‘not going over budget.’  For Aaron Buckley, who last year moved to the area to set up his business, it was to ‘focus on new business development and finding ways to manage his time better’.

Bill Strohacker’s resolution, whose first students started at the Design School at the start of the month, was to ‘not do everything myself and to get people into the business to help it grow’.  Toyubar Rahman admitted that being organised can be hard when there’s so many people to work with and so much to do – so he shared his plan to use a notebook, write a ‘to-do’ list, and stick to it.  He also talked about his ongoing aspiration is for people’s ‘perceptions of Bognor Regis town centre to catch up with the innovations that are happening, as well as to attract big and small businesses to work and live in the town’.

Business success doesn’t always mean pounds in the bank; it can be experiences or things you learn on the way. We asked the panel what was their best moment of 2016 and they revealed some interesting surprises.

  • Sarah – ‘floating a dead whale into the Irish Sea’
  • Bill – ‘first sign-up for the course who was a student from Detroit’
  • Jen – ‘a business meeting with a client in Rome’
  • Aaron – Etsy ordering replica keyrings for the Kubrick Festival at Somerset House, which involved all family members getting involved in fulfilling the order in time.
  • Toyubar – organising and running the ‘Giant Art Project’ in Bognor Regis town centre.


Business, as we all know doesn’t always go to plan and there are generally bumps and disappointments in the road along the way. Our panel mentioned how working on your own can be difficult and lonely and knowing how and when to grow can be hard. However, all agreed that knowing what success looks like for your business will help to build confidence in knowing when the time is right to expand.

Success for Bill, would be continual development and seeing his graphic design courses fully subscribed. For Aaron, it’s having other people working with him in his office, and for Jen, it was all about getting the balance of work and lifestyle right. Bringing in consistent work is the challenge for Sarah and Big Wave, who may look to join with another company in the year ahead ‘to be stronger in a bigger pool’. Surprisingly, broadcasters are attracted to working with local companies which is good news for Bognor Regis and the new Technology Park. Toyubar has an ambitious project for Bognor Regis town centre for 2017, to create a Business Improvement District to give businesses a greater say in how their local area is run.

The discussion moved on to the big surprises in 2016: Brexit and the election of President Trump.  For Big Wave, half their work comes from America, and if, as the new President has stated, there will be no more outsourcing, there may well be an impact.. For the rest of the panel, the outlook was optimistic and they encouraged the audience to look out for the opportunities that could arise from the changing situation.

The panel also shared their ‘lessons learnt from 2016’, which included a really key point – the necessity to take time out from the business to plan and take time for yourself.  They all agreed that common drive to ‘make whatever you do the best it can be’ can be a route to working obsessively and trying to do everything yourself. Jen’s advice was to turn an action into a verb to help to see the action that needs to be taken.  Other suggestions were knowing when to say no, allocating specific days for development work and letting your brain switch-off, and it sounds radical but turning off email and leaving your phone in the office – especially when you’re supposed to be on holiday.

Questions to the panel were invited from the audience, which included ‘Top Tips for Finding New Clients’. The panelists advised: know your market, talk to people and build relationships, understand and use social media effectively, provide engaging content that resonates with your customers. The audience also shared their own experiences and successes with social media and, in particular, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for B2B.

The panel engaged and informed the audience for the full hour and the hum of conversation that followed over coffee rounded off a successful and interesting evening – do look on Twitter for all the live tweeting.

A recording of part of the event Panel discussion is available on Facebook.

We’re planning our follow-up events now so do let us know if there’s a particular topic you’re interested in.

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