14/05/2009 - 00:00

Creative solutions to changing conditions

14/05/2009 - 00:00

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LIKE many small businesses, Subiaco-based marketing and technology firm Indepth Creative enjoyed rapid growth and expansion before the downturn in the economy.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Arthur Raykos (right) and technical director Greg Mitchell aren’t panicking despite the downturn. Photo: Grant Currall

LIKE many small businesses, Subiaco-based marketing and technology firm Indepth Creative enjoyed rapid growth and expansion before the downturn in the economy.

Founded by entrepreneur Arthur Raykos in 1993, the firm boomed in 2007, boosting its workforce from six to 18 in less than two years.

Indepth Creative employs graphic designers, web developers, programmers and support staff with extensive experience in the creative design industry, offering clients a complete graphic, multimedia and web design service.

During the past 16 years, Mr Raykos, a former freelance graphic designer, has experienced the highs and the lows of a fluctuating economy, but always adhered to a simple business philosophy - don't panic.

"Marketing is an ever-evolving creative industry and, regardless of the media we employ to meet and exceed our clients' expectations, we still thrive on the buzz we get from doing what we do for a living," Mr Raykos said.

"We have the benefit of a totally in-house approach to everything we do, which means we have a diverse range of young creative talent continually firing ideas off each other to create a stimulating, buzzing studio environment."

Ten years ago, Mr Raykos employed technical director Greg Mitchell.

The firm has since developed a "cleaner, faster and more economic working model", according to Mr Mitchell, where all aspects of a job are done in-house, leading Indepth Creative to increase its client base and substantially improve turnover.

"The biggest issue we have been fortunate to have to face is one of growth," Mr Mitchell told WA Business News.

"After operating for several years as a small business, our reputation and service was the catalyst for rapid growth.

"This necessitated rapid expansion with the usual impact on staffing, equipment, premises and naturally, cash flow.

"This is where the greatest asset is to know where the balance lies in working in your business and working on it to achieve them and manage growth.

"The current economic slowdown once again challenged us to re-assess our situation. As budgets are reduced and projects delayed or postponed, cash flow becomes vital for business."

Mr Mitchell said the biggest impact from the downturn was a change in cash flow patterns and the expected uncertainty that it brought.

In response, the firm implemented new levels of measurement and management required to control cash flow and continually assessed both the benefit and viability of all aspects of the business using the new baselines

"Many options present themselves in a time of economic slowdown," Mr Mitchell said.

"One is the all-too-typical knee-jerk reaction to cut staff to save costs. Our staff, as both creative individuals and as a team, is an asset to Indepth, not an overhead.

"Our approach was to tighten up on all areas, creating greater efficiencies by focusing on improved management and workflow structures."

Indepth was divided into 'profit centres', or departments, each measurable, manageable and answerable to the whole.

They work in synergy, removing any unnecessary duplication of effort and the subsequent inefficiencies that follow.

"Marketing is like bouncing the basketball during a game; stop the bounce and the ball soon stops, as the ball stops so the opponent picks it up and the game is lost," Mr Mitchell said.

"When we are not talking to our customers, who else is? With an increased focus on communication, sales and marketing strategies to all of our customers we ensure that we are always there for them when they need us."

He said Indepth now employed more realistic forecasting and monitoring of sales and marketing activities to ensure the small business could constantly measure its objectives and performance.

"By choosing a response to the current economic climate which did not involve staff cuts, the morale of our team has been greatly bolstered," Mr Mitchell said.

And with offices opening in Sydney and Melbourne, the growth of the business had stabilised and was being better managed.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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