Join Petrula Vrontikis for an in-depth discussion in this video Learning to say no, part of Running a Design Business: Starting Small.
As the leader of your studio, many times your job is to say no. Designers want to be the hero, and they want to be loved. So they take on projects because people need them, but can't afford to pay them. It seems like a good idea when you're not busy. But as soon as you get busy, this work gets put aside for real jobs, with real deadlines and real compensation. The one's that are more aligned with your accountability. This may be very unpopular advice but do whatever you can to keep from working on projects for your friends and family even if they pay you.
They are the worst clients ever. Just say no, nicely of course. In the resource files I have some handy verbiage for you to use. You may need to say no to a real client, because something they're asking you to do, you're not interested in, you don't have the time to do, or the budget is inadequate. You have a greater responsibility now to pay your employees and consider the financial health of your business. My litmus test is love, time, money.
You need two of the three to have any chance of success. By love, I mean your passion, desire. Or the potential this project has to represent the best that you can do. Time means how long you have to do this brilliant work. And money means compensation. If there's only one of the three, the odds are against you. When a client lacks enough money to pay you for good design, they often lack enough money to implement it. Diplomatic ways to say no to clients and an interesting article called, bad clients are easy to find, are included in the resource files. Sometimes we have to say no to a potentially great new client. Because they need something we don't know how to do. Focus on what you do best.
For example, if you're a designer and a client asks for a video project, refer them to someone in your professional network. This will establish trust with this prospective client and keep you top of the mind when projects come along that are best suited for your capabilities. Evaluating a project's potential to be both accountable and creative, along with learning to say, no, should be of great help to keep your business on track.
- 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