#LearningCurve: Combining talent and corporate functions

Niqui Cloete-Barrass of Boost Creative Solution
Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

Bay entrepreneur’s undertaking has gone from success to success

A leap of faith as she quit her executive job more than 12 years ago proved the perfect move for Port Elizabeth’s Niqui Cloete-Barrass, who runs a one-stop entertainment shop.

Her desire to run her own tight creative ship far outweighed her need for a job that provided security and saw the birth of Boost Creative Solutions.

When Cloete-Barrass, 45, left her creative job armed with a contact base and whole lot of faith, little did she know she would today manage more than 30 Port Elizabeth artists while also running the team-building aspect of her business.

Why venture out into this industry?

I was a creative executive at a regional radio station, while moonlighting as a cabaret performer for corporate events.

During this time I was fortunate to form amazing relationships with leaders in the media and events arena.

I enjoyed my work but I started to feel as if I needed to take the next step.

How many people does your enter- prise employ?

I am a sole proprietor, but we have more than 30 artists, including speakers, on our books.

My mission is to keep them working in the Bay to stem the talent drain to Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Is your business labour-intensive or does it rely more on machinery or electronic technology?

Boost relies on the professionalism of performers and the exceptional level of talent that we offer our clients.

We also rely on quality suppliers of audio-visual and technical solutions, event organisers, caterers and venue owners.

Describe your target markets and geographical market reach:

We include event planners, venue owners, corporate marketing and/or human resources departments, and individuals within the companies who are tasked with organising company functions, team-building and motivation.

Most of our clients are in Port Elizabeth and East London, but we are spreading to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

What do you believe is your business’s unique selling point or attribute?

There are usually two types of the creatively talented and those with organisa- tional and busi- ness skills.

Having spent my career with my feet firmly in both camps, I believe I can offer clients a blend of creativity and corporate savvy.

Your vision for your business:

Having always been both an entertainer and a corporate executive I have a vision of bringing those two worlds together to benefit both business and entertainers.

I aim to make companies aware of our local talent and to give that talent a platform to make a living here in the Bay.

Your biggest challenges in establish- ing the business:

Perhaps the most challenging is that I am a one-woman operation.

I am responsible for marketing, creating ideas, coordinating and booking artists, quoting, invoicing and so on.

Fortunately I have strong support from my family, as well as wonderful preferred suppliers.

I rely heavily on a core group of performers and suppliers who never let me down.

Your rewards or successes:

The most rewarding aspect is that it has been built through repeat business and referrals.

My clients and I enjoy long-lasting relationships and it is a compliment that new clients tend to become regular clients.

What are the biggest inhibitors to your business’s success:

Our economy is limping, which means that budgets for entertainment are not what they used to be.

This creates a challenge to give clients the same amazing experience at a reduced budget.

Name four best practices that have made your business successful:

Listen to your client’s needs before rushing in with a solution.

Compliment clients, suppliers and performers on a successful event – honest recognition paves the way for future success.

Be flexible – the eventing world is full of curve balls and one needs to have a great plan, but be prepared to adjust it as uncontrollable circumstances unfold.

Giveback–we are all out to make a living but successful business owners have a responsibility to use their skills to raise support for worthy causes.

We also need to sew back into young entrepreneurs – in my case, performers – so that our economy is richer for all of us.

Do you have plans to grow/expand your business and how would you do this?

I am always on the lookout for quality performers and unique artists to offer my clients.

Recently we presented the first Annual Boost Talent Showcase to targeted clients in the event arena.

This was phenomenally successful and we are already seeing the fruits from this event.

We are also trying to be more inten tional about tapping into the national market.

We are forming relationships with event companies from beyond Port Elizabeth so our talent pool can benefit from the national conferences hosted here in our beautiful Bay.

What is the most rewarding aspect or what gives you the most satisfaction from having your own business?

I never take it for granted that I am one of a minority of people who are doing the job they were born to do.
I enjoy the freedom to choose my working hours.

While I do make sacrifices – when others are enjoying a braai with friends, I am usually on stage – I get to spend much more quality time with my son than most moms do.

What gives me the most satisfaction is being able to provide work for local performers.

What kind of advertising do you do?

We have a website and we use a lot of social media.

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