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Being agile and thinking ahead (graduate case study)

Stephanie McLaren-Neckles

Staying light on your feet, keeping curious, and thinking critically are the keys to success in a creative business, according to entrepreneur Stephanie McLaren-Neckles.

Stephanie graduated with a London College of Communication (LCC) graduate certificate in Creative Management in 2009 and now runs the cultural journal and creative agency Let’s Be Brief with husband and business partner Ansel Neckles.

The duo won the Best New Business Award at last year’s Creative Enterprise Awards, run by UAL, for their multi-disciplinary creative agency twenty%extra, although the business has changed quite dramatically over the past year in a rapidly evolving business environment.

Reflecting on the changes she has made to her creative business, Stephanie discusses three key skills she feels would be useful for anyone interested in running and developing a successful creative business:


Being a small company helps us to be agile and change with the times. You have to be able to read the market, gain an understanding of your sector and environment and be able to react in some sort of way. For example, traditional advertising agencies are dying out because communications doesn’t work in the same way anymore: the broadcast model is also dying, as are the old models of selling.

Stephanie McLaren-Neckles

Critical thinking

You need to be able to analyse, deconstruct and come up with your own conclusions about what’s happening around you. This will give you a fresh insight and an opportunity to develop a considered idea.

Stephanie McLaren-Neckles


We’re always curious and continually researching, and asking ourselves what can we find out there that would be beneficial to our business?

Stephanie McLaren-Neckles

These three attributes helped Stephanie and Ansel develop their business as they saw the world around them changing, while looking at where they could create revenue out of their passions and expertise. What started off as predominantly a business-to-business creative agency, has evolved to include an education and consumer-facing side and the development from twenty%extra to Let’s Be Brief.

Let’s Be Brief, which came out of the pair’s interest in do-it-yourself culture, offers DIYers practical toolkits to help them be successful, while maintaining their work with big brands - something Stephanie believes is a niche in the market. Stephanie says, "We connect the dots between business, culture and communication, for creative thinkers and doers."

Let’s Be Brief had been part of the offer originally developed by Stephanie and Ansel, an internally facing tool they used to collate and share their cultural thinking, but as times changed, it moved forward in their priorities to sit centre-stage in their business offer.

Visit the Let’s Be Brief website to find out more about Stephanie and Ansel’s work.

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