When graphic designers launch off into business for themselves, the qualities that make them great at their work are often the very qualities that hinder their success in business. Typical graphic designers love their work and get lost in it. These right-brain creatives usually are not the kind of business owners who regularly and systematically monitor their cash flow, maintain and update a client data base, or pull away from a current job to find leads for the next job.
Sadly too, universities typically educate designers for careers in agencies, where someone else is tending to sales & operations. Students graduate with very little knowledge about how to sell, set fees and implement profitable business processes.
It’s not that artist-types can’t do the practical side of business. Designers who strike out on their own need to either develop the discipline or hire someone to keep them on track with day-to-day organization of marketing, billing, follow-up calls, developing leads, sales, project management, servicing clients and all the other necessary parts of maintaining and growing a business.
For those who want to sharpen best practices for a design business, there are some good resources out there. Here’s one we’ve relied on: Talent Is Not Enough by Shel Perkins.
Be creative and be smart about it!