Improve your design business by focusing on what you do best
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Running a small business is not usually top of mind for most would-be designers. They want to be doing design. Somewhere along the line, they decide to strike out on their own and soon discover that requires them to set up a small business.
Before they know it, they are spending a lot of time on business operations, managing accounts, projecting cash flows, monitoring contracts and so forth. Each of those tasks is eating away at time they could be designing and, more importantly, billing for their time and services.
I'm often surprised at how reluctant some designers are to delegate or outsource operational tasks. Over time, they gradually take on more and more areas of running their business until one day they realize they no longer enjoy being a designer. And no wonder, they've become a clerk instead.
Even so, they worry about losing control over their business and continue to plod along. Their decision not only is bad for their spirit, but it's also bad for their business.
They would be happier, and their business would be much healthier if they spent that time on client development, obtaining new business and doing what they love to do and do best — designing.
Some designers have a knack for business, it's true, and some put in considerable time and effort to educate themselves in order to develop good business skills. Many others, however, have neither the inclination nor the desire to devote themselves to business matters.
They muddle along as best they can, perhaps with the aid of an accountant or bookkeeper to assist with the financials. They may use a software program to help manage other areas of the business, like scheduling, purchasing and invoicing. They rely mainly on referrals and repeat business to bring in new projects.
Then, they wonder why their business is not thriving like that of other designers.
If that sounds like you and your business, my advice to you is stop trying to be a jack, or jane, of all trades. You would be much better off spending your time on the things you do really well and let others handle the operational parts of the business that are bogging you down.
There are lots of folks out there who have the training, skills and experience in finance, marketing, office management, technology and graphic design who you can engage part-time, freelance or through an outsourced service provider to handle those other matters for you. Chances are good that the cost will be only a fraction of what you could charge a client for your services for the same amount of time.
Why waste your time on things you don't like to do and perhaps don't do well, especially when there are others who want to do them and have the expertise you lack?
You don't have to give up control just because you are not doing everything yourself. Delegating is, in fact, one of the primary traits of a good leader.
Leaders who know how and when to delegate accomplish more and help their firms to be more successful. They know the value of focusing on what they do best and surrounding themselves with others who complement their skills, yet maintaining vigilance to ensure everyone is doing his or her part.
Give it a try and see what a difference it can make to your sense of job satisfaction and to your firm's bottom line.
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