Ross Hutchins, Owner and Director, Ethos Creative

Whilst awards are great, there are more important things. Getting results from our work is paramount, seeing the company become 10 years old in October 2014 was a defining moment for me. 

Ross Hutchins 400.pixWhat course did you study, and when did you graduate?

I studied a degree in Graphic Design, and graduated in 2001. I wanted to learn a creative art, that also had commercial opportunity. My qualification has helped me greatly. Although I'm not hands on any more, clients are reassured by the fact I have knowledge in my subject and have a background in creative. University also allowed me to form some lifelong relationships. 

Tell us about your business venture:

“I started Ethos in 2004. I had been leading the design teams at a number of agencies previously and had learned a lot. Ethos started life as a full service creative agency. I built up a number of contacts through freelance work and this formed the platform for the company to develop from. It was about earning money, whilst remaining as true to our art as we could be. 

Throughout the 11 years that we have been trading, we have refined and developed our service. The creative industries have been naturally channelled towards digital media and we have progressed in this way too. Our aim was to be the masters of our craft, rather than a jack of all trades, and so we needed to have a focus.”

What’s the best and worst thing about running your own business?:

The best and worst are very much attached. Giving people opportunity to work within the creative industry and providing employment is very rewarding, however it then becomes apparent that you are responsible for them. It’s a bit like having to look after another family. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, just an added pressure. I find the flexibility very rewarding. I don’t work 9 to 5, but I do work harder than ever.

You also get to meet some great people and form long-standing relationships. My role nowadays is around business development, so I am always out and about meeting new people.

What’s your typical day?:

I would typically have two or three meetings a day, interspersed with phone calls and writing and delivering briefs. I also try to keep a public face to the business so could be updating Twitter, writing a blog article or reviewing our marketing approach.

Of course there is also a company to run, but as we have grown, so has the management team and we get together regularly to discuss processes, projects, finances and opportunities. I travel quite a bit and can be on the road or in London for a couple of days or the week. The travelling gets a bit tiring, but I love being out and about, finding opportunities.

What have been your key business achievements or awards won?:

We have been lucky enough to be handed quite a few awards over the years, however the standout was being a finalist for the Webby Awards for an Adoption Campaign we produced in 2014. It was nominated as one of the best 5 government funded sites in the world. We lost out to NASA at the Awards at Wall Street in New York, but I’m not ashamed of that!

We have also been recognised at the Awwwards, CSS Awards and Summit Awards for our digital work. More locally, we have won the RCT Business Club Marketing Award 3 times and also a Canmol Award for our campaign work.  

Whilst awards are great, there are more important things. Getting results from our work is paramount, seeing the company become 10 years old in October 2014 was a defining moment for me. I also enjoy providing opportunity for aspiring creatives. They all stand out as key business achievements. 

If you were starting again, is there anything you’d do differently?:

I can see the benefit of understanding how more areas of the business work, particularly within finances. It's always useful to understand what is going on in all aspects of business rather than relying on others. It allows you to have an opinion and make suggestions. It's always a strength if you can find and develop your niche early on. It’s difficult to turn down work that isn’t quite what you want to do if you are capable of doing it. It can, though, lead you off your chosen path if you don’t keep a careful eye on it.

What’s next?

I will continue to do what I’m doing with Ethos, although I also have a number of other business interests within the creative field. Sport has always been a passion of mine and I have recently started working with a number of sports people to support them across brand and image. Whilst digital is my focus with Ethos, I also have an interest in branding and this is something I wouldn’t want to just let go. It’s hard to find time to do it all and I am always conscious of not spreading myself too thin.