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Creative Scale-Up helps CTConsults come out of the pandemic with a growth mindset

CTConsults is a Manchester-based agency that offers industry-leading expertise in cultural tourism, heritage and destination marketing, focused on strategy, delivery and support. Looking to work on their growth plans they took part in the Creative Scale-Up programme in 2020 amidst the disruption their industry faced as a result of the pandemic. While Covid-19 may have shifted their focus temporarily from growth to survival, the guidance they received from their advisor helped shape their response to the pandemic while building a growth mindset amongst the leadership team to help map out their future plans.

• Growth mindset within leadership team
• Pandemic support

Founded in 2012, CTConsults is a communications agency and consultancy that offers expertise in cultural tourism, heritage and destination marketing. Having started in the Manchester area, they soon expanded to working with clients from around the UK.

In 2020 they took part in the Creative Scale-Up programme with ambitions to grow the business. However, their participation coincided with Covid-19 and lockdown, which had severe impacts on the tourism industry and put their growth plans on hold temporarily. CTConsults Director Alex Saint tells us how working with the Hub has helped them emerge stronger and in a better place to kickstart their growth.

Gaining a growth mindset was crucial for us

In early 2020, CTConsults was in a position where we knew we needed to grow, but we couldn’t quite get ourselves out of those everyday challenges that small businesses face. We couldn’t get ahead of the game despite putting lots of effort in, it felt like we’d been stuck in a loop for the last 12 months or so.

We were looking for something that would give us the confidence to take those next steps. Then we saw the Creative Scale-Up programme advertised and it seemed like the answer, so we applied straight away.

We started the course in the early days of lockdown so it was delivered virtually and while it was a shame that we couldn’t have that face-to-face interaction that you’d normally get, it filled some very useful gaps for us. We have been able to build on our learnings, which has been very helpful.

Covid has presented some real challenges and delays

This last year has been a hard one. COVID hit within weeks of starting the programme, and in all honesty the plan for medium-long term growth converted into a plan for short term survival, along with the rest of our client base of tourism and culture. However, being on the Creative Scale-Up programme was really helpful. There was structure, ideas sharing, and lots and lots of guidance. Our Hub advisor has been fantastic as a mentor, meeting him has been one of the main benefits we’ve received from Creative Scale-Up.

Without his guidance I’m not sure we would have held our nerve and made such clear-headed decisions to get us where we are today. We are now back to where we were 12 months ago, growth is back on the agenda and we’re in a position of real strength. We couldn’t have grown last year because our clients were thrown into crisis mode. We looked after our people and our clients through lockdown, made the right decisions and didn’t panic, which was in part due to our access to John.

We’re ready to grow and looking to the future

The main impact of being on the programme is that as a senior management team are now more focused and have a growth mind set. We recognise that being mindful of our growth path is really important and this will stop us being pulled in different directions. Allowing us to only focus on opportunities that are right for us.

Despite working from home, we have been able to work together as a team and make decisions about the shape of the company that we wouldn’t have found so easy before Creative Scale-Up. Now we are ready to start recruiting again for some significant roles within the company and we’re in a better shape as a leadership team. We are also considering the wider business and making sure that in scaling up to deliver to the next phase, that we are anticipating the future shape of the business, diversifying in terms of skills and looking at succession planning.

The pandemic has accelerated our thinking in these directions rather than causing us to pivot or diversify. It’s also clearly had a profound impact on the cultural and tourism sectors – the shift to digital is huge and we have the expertise, products and services ready to help.