Join Petrula Vrontikis for an in-depth discussion in this video Defining realities and roles, part of Running a Design Business: Starting Small.
The three best things about running a design business are, being the boss. When things go well, you get all the credit. Seeing your work make a difference in a client's business, and learning so much about how different businesses and organizations work. The three most challenging things about running a design business are, being the boss. When things go wrong, you get all the blame. There's a tendency to work all the time because you're wearing too many hats. And dealing with employees. The employment red tape, taxes, and insurance, and staff's personal dramas can be very stressful at times.
Running a design business is really hard work, because design school doesn't train us to be employers, managers, sales people or bookkeepers. These roles can bog us down. You'll need to know the responsibilities of each role, and carve out enough time to get things done. If you're going to hire others, you'll need to carefully define the responsibilities of each role. How to find the right people to help you. And lastly, how to make enough money to afford their services. Here are the ideal characteristics of each role necessary in running a small design business. Business development responsibilities are marketing, research, sales strategy, meeting with prospective clients, and generating proposals. Also required are skills in negotiation and client service. The creative responsibilities include a mastery of formal skills to translate messages into visual form.
Providing a variety of ideas and concepts refinement and production. This role also includes research into new methods of implementation and technology. Production expertise is needed in the technology used in file preparation and coding. Knowledge in different forms of media including print, digital, environmental, and or time based applications is required. This role may also include managing vendors, such as printers, developers, and fabricators. The role of project or studio management includes facilitating communications internally and externally, managing projects and schedules, personnel management, organizational skills, and strong communication abilities are crucial.
Administrative roles like bookkeeping and office work include preparing payroll, generating invoices, posting payments and deposits, paying bills, and creating reports for accounting purposes. In addition, each of these roles also requires time spent in meetings, and correspondence. So, that's what's needed to keep a small studio running. Working with others can be your greatest asset. Or, your most challenging liability. Sometimes, you have to experiment to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Time and expertise will tell you what's needed.
But just knowing the requirements of your small business up front will help you prepare for the responsibilities ahead.
- Naming and structuring your business
- Keeping records
- Cultivating business relationships
- Hiring employees and subcontractors
- Creating schedules and managing deadlines
- Understanding industry trends
- Avoiding the pitfalls of spec work
- Promoting your business through social media