Content and PR specialist CK Goldiing tells unLTD how ‘curiosity’ inspired him to start creative agency Icons & Machines, which crafts a range of digital branded assets for his ‘brave’ clients

I was inspired to start my business by… curiosity. Before officially launching Icons & Machines in 2018, I was a writer/creator. I am still both of these things, and I regularly create personal projects that attract generous media coverage, including BBC, Red Bull, Huff Post, Metro and more. Thanks to the success of these personal projects, I grew curious, wondering if my storytelling approach would work for commercial brands, too. The 2018 Christmas ad campaign I produced for Sheffield Gift Card was my debut commercial outing, and employed the exact same techniques used in my personal content. I remain stunned by the attention it attracted.

My favourite thing about running my business is… brave clients. When clients are fearless in their pursuit of creating inspiring, innovative, provoking content, there’s nothing finer. Headteacher-turned speaker/coach Kate Grosvenor is a perfect example. Imagine me suggesting we produce a documentary that reveals the unsolicited sexually explicit images that she, and other women in their forties, are sent from men. She committed to the idea in a heartbeat. Initial apprehension aside, Kate saw the potential to begin a vital conversation society and mainstream media chooses to ignore. The response from her clients and online community has so far been overwhelming. Speaking of brave clients, imagine further me pitching the idea of rigging The Crucible and Boots chemist with hidden cameras for a Christmas ad campaign. This unlikely offering seemed not to frighten Sheffield Gift Card, either. You have to love that.

 The three words that best describe my business are…  brave, impactful, talented.

Sheffield City Region is a great place to start a business because… the resource structure is vast, and the business community warm. Additionally, with powerhouse neighbours like Manchester and Leeds, the growth potential is undisputed.

Sheffield City Region is a great place to grow a business because… people’s willingness to share connections and initiate business introductions is second-to-none. Within hours of being invited to feature in unLTD, I received two hearty business introductions, both out of the blue. The first from Rob Taylor of 0114 Marketing, putting me forward to speak at the South Yorkshire Expo., and the second from Sheffield Chamber’s Dan Laver, who introduced me to someone who is keen to elevate the profile of their business. What more need I say?

The best advice I ever got was… “It’s not about you, though, is it?- my big brother rocks.

The worst advice I ever got was… it wasn’t the worst, but definitely wasn’t the best. I attended a public speaking workshop out of pure curiosity. Thanks to my TV and radio background, I’ve always felt incredibly comfortable speaking in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people, but I was fascinated to see how these workshops help people who aren’t. I was invited to deliver a one-minute speech without the organiser’s coaching, then another one-minute speech after their coaching. Everyone in the room then voted on which of my speeches they preferred. Unanimously, my first presentation was everyone’s favourite. Ouch.

The organisations that have supported me and my business include… Dan Laver at Sheffield Chamber for supporting my recent PR & Media masterclass. Thanks to Dan, it was delivered at a wonderful venue, Virgin Money, Fargate. Also, Sheffield-based business coach Jon Covey is a source of endless brilliance, motivation and mindset genius.

The main challenges facing my industry/sector are… lack of imagination.

In 5 years’ time I expect my business to… have elevated the profile of at least 61 more brands and entrepreneurs. Why 61? Lets just say it’s my lucky number. 

Pic credit: Paul Drabble