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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

10 Questions: Stuart Morrison of Littler Britain

Hi Stuart, can you tell us a little about your business background? Hi Gary, I originally started out training as an engineer at the RAE in Farnborough, it was a full indentured apprenticeship something which doesn't really exist now. After I left I went on to several engineering firms but my heart was really in the theatre, which was something I had done from the age of 5. Eventually, I left engineering and created a company with a friend to sell our creative skills. We started out trying to make TV and ended up selling poster designs, which was very enjoyable and financially worthwhile. The poster designs went crazy, GB Posters have now sold in excess of 1/4 million posters with my designs on them. I then came up with a novelty gadget called "The Girlfriend Remote" which was licensed globally and led on to other novelty items, such as the Inflatable Ashtray and The Inflatable Dartboard (with puncture repair kit). Again, it was mutually financially rewarding with the licensing companies. I then moved on and started providing packaging designs for the company who licensed my products and before long I was producing most of their packaging and was getting requests to do other design work. I then moved into website design when someone asked me about it and I said, sure, I'll give it a go for you. This was a site with a database attached and so I partnered up with a chap who knew ASP and away I went. In the early days I had very little idea of what I was doing, but read loads, bought software used it, evaluated it, recommended it to people. All of this was on a 33 600 modem, Broadband was a dream when it came and I just so happened to be in the NTL catchments area for beta testers, being already a net user they asked me to help them and away I went. I have not really looked back. Whilst I was doing this I was also keeping my hand in with acting, and had performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and then helped to put on a local "Fringe" festival. I kept going with the acting and although it never went huge I had roles in various TV shows and films, not massive but enough to keep the dream alive. But I had to make a decision about acting and the business I started, so I stopped the acting as the business was where I earned most of my money. It was a purely business decision but it tore my heart out as I felt the dream had died. Fast forward a few years and the business had suffered a catastrophic collapse, mainly due to a big mistake I made (another time perhaps...). So I was left with no business but loads of time on my hands, so I went back to what I wanted to do, acting. A friend of mine asked me if I would help her with her Madonna Tribute act, I said sure and helped her to market it. I then, for a laugh, dressed up as Ali G for some of the publicity shots. We sent the shots off and a week later I got a call asking to book both acts. I was a bit shocked but thought, "I'll give it a go", and never looked back. When Ali G's star started to wane I looked about for another lookalike, and then had the idea for Little Britain Lookalikes, due to an amazing co-incidence I ended up on the Richard and Judy show, winning the title Best Little Britain Lookalike in early 2005. I have travelled extensively, and made all sorts of acquaintances whilst doing lookalike work, which now that I am doing Littler Britain has only got better. I think the underlying factor is I always wnated to be the driver not a passenger! Can you tell us more about your Littler Britain Act? We are available for Mix n Mingle, Meet n Greet, which is working up close and personal with party guests, conference delegates, shoppers etc... It's interactive stand-up comedy and we never fail to get people laughing, thanks in large part to the characters we impersonate. We have been mistaken for the real deal on a number of occasions and it seems to be widely accepted that we are as close as you can get to the real thing. We have concentrated on selecting the right costumes, wigs, teeth and makeup, working closely with industry professionals who worked on the authentic Little Britain productions. Performing on stage is a great challenge, but one which we always love, the audience is always so appreciative. We have travelled the UK from Aberdeen to Plymouth, from Swansea to Norwich and most points in between. Also being a double act means we can faithfully re-create the best loved characters, the wheelchair bound Andy and hapless helper Lou, who always go down a storm. How did you meet Gavin, your Littler Britain partner? We met on the Richard and Judy show, he managed to say the word "Cock" on national live TV at about 5:50pm in the afternoon. What was better was that Judy nearly repeated the word as she was so flabbergasted. Then fate stepped in and we just so happened to be leaving at the same time and shared a cab to the station. Since then we have not really looked back. What ongoing marketing strategies do you use to promote your Littler Britain Act? We have a number of strategies, both online and offline, but the online ones include PPC marketing, which basically pre-qualifies sales opportunities as you know that the person calling is calling for one reason, a potential booking so it makes the sales job easier. We also have a well optimised busy website with lots of updates. Our offline activities include charity work, a good source of contacts, radio appearances, podcasts (not strictly offline) basically you name it we do it. What is the one thing that sets you apart from the competition? There is no competition. There is no other Little Britain Lookalike Tribute Double Act. So like I said if you want the real thing you can't they are touring for the next 8 months! If you are talking about other entertainers, then again, there is no competition. The hottest show for years, with two funny guys and loads of catchphrases and characters, which can be tailored to fit most situations, it's win, win, win. Do you "do" any characters other than Little Britain? I've heard you do a mean Ali G! Holla! Ere me now! Dis be Ali G For Real innit, and I iz not mean, but I iz well buff, fly and da mac daddy pimpstar. G'wan. Yes I do do the leader of the Staines Massive, who again is a really popular character globally as I get enquiries from all over the world. In fact I get fan mail for Sacha Baron Cohen and even when I write to tell them I am not they won't believe me. I am also working on other characters right now as Gav and I are working on a full on multi character Tribute Show. Are you involved in any other businesses, or is your "lookalike" act the only job you have? No, I also do online marketing, web design and have a few other lucrative niches, which I don't need the competition for, thanks! Do you believe the ability to make money/be an entrepreneur is some sort of talent you're born with, or simply a set of skills that can be learnt? Hmmm, there is an old saying that goes: Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. I think the preparation can be achieved by anyone who sets their mind to it. You can study, learn, digest and understand a subject totally, however to spot an opportunity, well that takes years to hone. You may have it as a raw talent, but to really make the most of it you need to practise it, as with any skill, repetition of rewarding tasks is always going to lead to an improvement. The ability to make money is easy, buy low, sell high or income should exceed expenditure anyone can do that, accountants even! But to be an entrepreneur is a different set of skills. It's the ability to fly without any discernable talent or aptitude to do so on a pair of borrowed wings sometimes. It's the ability to think laterally, creatively and "outside the box". Many people think they are entrepreneurs just because they run their own business, but a real entrepreneur is someone who never stops looking for the next challenge, the next deal, the next opportunity. Stelios, Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Clive Sinclair all went into markets and redefined them, how? Well I think it was their ability to see through the accumulated years of "Tradition" in any one industry and realise potential for change, I mean truly realise it monetarily. But they had one thing that made them different from the competition, specific product knowledge, Stelios had worked in his Father's shipping line and branched into his own before starting EasyJet but that again was international travel, shipping people instead of freight. Richard Branson loved music and set up a Student Magazine, then branched out into a record mail order business in 1970, starting a record shop in London shortly afterwards, by all accounts he used the local phone box as a customer mail order hotline to him. Sir Clive was into technology, Alan Sugar loved putting together a deal and did from an early age and knows how to cut one just right. All of these people have one thing in common a passion realised through their work, all love the cut n thrust of business and most of all enjoy the next challenge and never seem to accept complacency either within themselves or in other people and continue to grow as people. I identify a lot with this type of person, they make their own rules and don't just accept tradition, which is just another way of saying we have done it this way round here for so long that we can't think of any other way of doing it. I like the fact my two streams of income seem so disparate, but that gives me a competitive edge as I can think, hmmm, how would I do that in this industry and then just go ahead and try it. It may not succeed, but as long as I learn from the process then I can take that and add it to the success I have already experienced. However I think anyone with the right attitude and commitment could start their own online business, catch-up and outstrip even the like of Google if they had the right idea. It's all about information and the net is the one place where that abounds. I would recommend people getting a computer/broadband/web space and a few programmes to help maintain their websites and they could be earning online in a matter of minutes, seriously, minutes. I set up a niche website the other day, no inbound links, one page and just a bit of Google Adsense on it and within 2 hours it had made $0.07c, not a huge amount and it certainly didn't cover the cost of buying the domain name, but that site will now sit their getting clicks every day so I have to do "nothing" for the money. Anyone can do this, literally, anyone. What plans do you have for the future - where do you see yourself in 5 years time? I would love to be as recognized as the real Little Britain, scrub that I would love to be half as recognizable as them. I am currently talking to a few agencies who are interested in developing our act into something a bit more original but maybe still impersonation orientated to start with. I will continue to grow my website portfolio and my online affiliate activities will still be a focus. Of course I may get offered a million pound TV contract tomorrow so who knows! It would be nice, realistically I know that success comes to those who want it, so I will continue to put my work out there in all formats and see where it takes me, I think the key to it is that I never really stopped believing in my own ability to achieve something if I truly put my mind to it. Corny, old fashioned but true. And finally, for a bit of fun, what is your favourite movie? If you're talking all time, have to watch it over and over then it's easy, Bladerunner, great atmosphere, brilliant score and Darryl Hannah in a jump suit! My favourite comedy movie is anything with Laurel and Hardy, they wrote the rulebook on physical comedy. Last movie I saw was Chaplin, which was really good. Last movie I bought was four actually, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Sean Connery, I, Robot with Will Smith, the Forgotten (which is excellent) and Bill Bailey Part Troll. I think the person producing the most interesting movies at the moment is M. Night Shyamalan - The Village, Signs, Unbreakable, Sixth Sense best actor is Johnny Depp or Geoffery Rush.

Stuart is the "Lou" half of the LittlerBritain Tribute Act. As well as being the best Ali G for real, innit. You can subscribe to Stuarts newsletter for Self Employed people or those thinking of starting their own company, business or sideline by emailing newsletter@beingselfemployed.com Links: LittlerBritain Tribute Act Ali G Tribute Act
Many thanks to Stuart for taking part in our 10 questions profile!

New URL: www.osworld.biz - thanks!

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