Starting Your Own Design Company: Being Prepared and Ready
I know some people weren’t made for the company world, and most of us would like to get rid of the guy called “boss” (or, if you prefer more specific terms, we’ve also got “manager”, “executive X”, “head”; and unless it’s a real small company or you’re real high on the corporate ladder, that other dude, “CEO”, does not roll on your floor).
And with all the resources available with the Internet, setting up your own business seems not only easy, it’s like it would be foolish not to start one. But let me stop you right there and throw a bucket of cold water all over your enthusiasm (well, it is for charity: I’m trying to potentially save your life here). Before you invest your time and money into a nightmare, let’s go over some things I think you should ruminate over at the corner of shame.
- Are you simply going solo or are you trying to start an agency?
Working on your own requires a few set of skills separated from your main talent; you’ll need to be organised with meeting deadlines, meeting people, advertising your work, and actually working. Will you work from home? Have you got the space and structure needed? If you live with other people, will they allow you the peace and quiet necessary? Renting and maybe furnishing an office can be an alternative – can you afford it?
Making lists is always helpful. Put to paper everything you know you’ll need for sure, everything you think you’ll need, and think you’d like to have but aren’t necessarily vital. Include things like the computer and all the software you need, desks, chairs, staple office supplies like paper, pens and pencils, a white board, files, plastic bags; do not forget to add the utility bills to the “need” list – even if you decide to work from home you’ll still have to pay for electricity, water, gas, and heating.
- You will be your manager
This means that most of the time you’ll be doing what he or she did as your boss: contacting clients, setting up meetings (and preparing for and going on them), making sure the budget isn’t blown, balancing accounts and all that stuff. And getting your own work done, too. You’ll also manage your time, so be prepared to work late and during the weekends (on the other hand, you might find yourself at the shopping center on a Monday afternoon).
- You get to put a price on your work…
And it won’t matter that your grandmother said you’re the most brilliant designer in the world. Your clients have to know why you’re charging that amount – because of your training and talent, because of your commitment to your clients, for always delivering the cream of the crop products. It all comes down to one word: REPUTATION. And how does one begin to build a reputation? By delivering only the best, since the very first client (even if they’re asking for something you’d rather eat rats than do). Tricky things, reputations; they tend to follow – or haunt you – for the rest of your life.
- … Within reason.
And what I mean by that is: don’t try to charge a fortune if your portfolio is small or not that big of a deal. Leave that for the future, after you’ve established yourself. However, it should cover the costs you’ve had in order to produce it plus your profit. So in the maths go utility bills, hours dedicated to the project, and your profit. Have fun with the calculator.
Well, I hope I have offered some food for thought. By any means am I trying to discourage you from following your ambitions, I just thought I’d sit on your shoulder and play Jiminy Cricket so you can have a clearer view of what to expect.