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CraftWork London

Friday 31st May 20249am‐5pm @ citizenM, Tower Hill


We headed back to the citizenM, Tower Hill, for the second full-day edition of Craft+Work. This time, we maxed out Room 9 with 50 people comprising soloists, founders, and leaders working in ecommerce (specifically Shopify), application development, marketing, and content who came to listen, share and learn from each other. The day did not disappoint.



Themes

Like last year, we covered a lot of ground, and the topics ranged from AI and marketing to operations and sales. Some themes did emerge:

  • Sales cycles are getting more protracted, making business less predictable
  • The last 12 months have been tough in the market, but there are signs that we are moving out of the bottom of the cycle, and confidence is growing
  • It's no longer possible to rely on social media platforms as a source of new business, and it's vital to create ways of communicating that won't be threatened by legislation or billionaires with an agenda
  • Life and work is "a lot"! Avoiding the news cycle and finding ways to focus on work is becoming increasingly harder for many of us.
  • Getting "out there" and connecting with people at events, conferences, and in small groups is definitely back and an important way of combating the remote and work-from-home culture that's become the "new normal"
  • Traditional career paths don't exist for many of us, so it's important to consider ways in which you can grow and develop as craftspeople and business professionals.

This year, I invited my good friend and founder of beyond tellerrand Marc Thiele along to take charge of capturing the day with his camera.

Breakfast Chats

Breakfast Chats

Patrons

Our Patrons Mantle (Left: Josh & Jordan), Zapiet (Centre: Andy & Emili) & Gadget (Right: Mo)

Lunch

Lunch

Conversation Station Groups

Conversation Station Groups

Sharing Ideas

Sharing Ideas

As an experienced event professional, there's nobody better equipped to know which shots to take and when. You can view the full set of photos on Marc's website.


Presentations

This edition of Craft+Work featured five invited presenters who agreed to come along and share their stories and insights.


Tim Richardson

The Agency Landscape 2024

Linkedinyourbasketisempty.com

Given how Tim sees the ecommerce space, particularly the agency world, it was a no-brainer to ask him back to kickstart our day together — naturally, he didn't disappoint.

Tim Richardson

Tim Richardson

Key Takeaways

  • 2016 to 2021 were the golden years of ecommerce, and we're at the bottom of a cycle now, but the good times could be on the horizon again!
  • LinkedIn is the place to create awareness for what you do. BUT don't use a LinkedIn guru to create your content — rather, be authentic and create your own content
  • Tim has decided to differentiate his agency business by having fewer clients and a higher-touch mentality. He's selling on the basis that you'll deal with him and his small team of co-founders!
  • Be curiously sceptical about AI — the technology can't replicate good taste, but it can help in certain areas of your business
  • Be very intentional with your business. For example, if you want to sell your agency, make it your "North Star" from the beginning.

Elliot Jay Stocks

No Straight Lines

Linkedinelliotjaystocks.com

Elliot joined the group to share how his unplanned 20-year "career" of roads, turns, occasional dead ends and many serendipitous encounters has led him to a point where he gets to mostly do projects and work that fulfils at least two of his "F's"!

Tim Richardson

Elliot Jay Stocks

Key Takeaways

  • If you follow your passions, the connection between your projects can be nearly impossible to see
  • Pick two out of the three F's to decide why you want to pursue a project: Fun, Fame, Fortune
  • A fourth F he now considers is Family, as it might be impossible to separate work and life
  • Recently, Elliot started to write a happiness list to assess and remember how he finds his fulfilment and satisfaction
  • Build up a newsletter following, so you don't have to fight against the social media algorithm all the time

Ellen Donnelly

Designing an Entrepreneurial Career Path

Linkedinthe-ask.uk

Ellen shared her entrepreneurial story about building her coaching business, The Ask. In contrast to Elliot, she definitely had a plan and explained how she uses game theory to help her work towards her goals. In a surprising twist, she also had a few F's to share! Oh, she's also adamant that she doesn't want to move back to Leamington Spa!

Tim Richardson

Ellen Donnelly

Key Takeaways

  • Apply game theory to your career to find financial security, fulfilment and/or freedom
  • Explore which game you're playing and what level you are willing to win at next
  • Analyse what gets in the way of you winning your game
  • Know yourself and come up with a bespoke plan to move forward
  • Be reflective and intentional about your career and when it's time to change the game

Faye Oakenfull

How to Be Truly Terrible at B2B Marketing

Linkedin

There are "journeys", and then there's Faye's journey. A born entrepreneur who recently concluded that employment is much more suited to her, Faye shared how her side hustles, online stores, and consultancy business have informed her marketing career.

Tim Richardson

Faye Oakenfull

Key Takeaways

  • If you're in a B2B marketing role, remember to use empathy and never forget that you're selling to humans
  • Most agencies are founder-led, but their need to protect the brand can get in the way of marketing the product, so it's important to find ways to work around this
  • SaaS businesses are sales-led, and they do everything they can to drive up the numbers, which results in awful marketing
  • It's important to aim for a balance between the two approaches — i.e. growth and creative marketing
  • When hiring, aim to find a non-traditional, unicorn marketer who understands both sides and has probably had their own share of entrepreneurial ups and downs (just like Faye!)

Piers Thorogood

Culture Drift

Linkedin

To round out the presentations, Piers charted how the culture at the agency he founded morphed and changed from two mates working in a back bedroom to the business's eventual sale to a global tech company. It was an open and honest talk in which he shared things that went well, inflexion points he may have missed, and what he would do differently if he ever founds another company.

Tim Richardson

Piers Thorogood/p>

Key Takeaways

  • Define and outline your company values and live by them
  • Creating a good culture in an economic boom is easier. The need to survive took over during the pandemic, and culture began to suffer.
  • If you sell your agency, don't shield your staff from the new organisation's culture, as you'll eventually need to integrate into the parent business.
  • A certain degree of culture drift is inevitable when an agency is integrated into its new parent company. Some people will cope, others won't
  • The loss of your company culture has a knock-on effect on how much business you win as morale drops and people leave.

Our Patrons

Craft+Work events are made possible by the generous support of our Patrons. Please take a moment to learn more about them and their products and services.

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Roundups

Here's what others said about the day on LinkedIn:

Keir collects interesting and engaging people the way some collect stamps and brings this eclectic group of humans together with an agenda that is thought-provoking and open, giving us all ample opportunities to contribute and make our own connections for our future benefit.

Peter Corkery — Fractional eCommerce Director

Keir has done an incredible job of bringing together the best and brightest in agency, e-commerce and Shopify worlds together to learn and connect. The energy of the room was unlike any conference I've ever been to.

Ellen Donnelly — Founder of The Ask®

Really nicely paced, and a fantastic opportunity to catch up and chat with long-term leaders in the Shopify space.

Luke Green — Co-Founder of Inspira Digital & Alvio

Speakers shared startup stories and lessons learned over the last year (cue cards, no slides!). Vibrant and transparent talks, which was refreshing.

Nika Talbot — Founder at Firebird Content Studio

Andy Richley, Co-Founder at Cogent 2 went the extra mile and recirded a podcast discussing the day!


Playlist

Just like in 2023, in the run-up to the event, I compiled a playlist that reflected the songs I was listening to while working on the event. Also, like in 2023, I didn't get to use it, but I include it here in case you fancy 99 minutes of aural inspiration!


Finally, huge thanks to our five great presenters, Craig for his on-going support and ideas, Oliver for his excellent summary notes, Amy for helping make the day run smoothly and Marc for his wonderful photography. We'll be back in London in 2025.

Published: Tuesday 11th June 2024

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This is the web site of Keir Whitaker — I'm a UK-based business coach and founder of event series Craft+Work.

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