an online conversation
about design management

Are you a creative business owner?

Are you a business person at all?

Designers don’t usually go broke from being bad designers, they fail through being bad business people.

Business management skills are crucial to the successful running of a design studio.

Business management skills are a different skill-set to those needed to be a good designer. Design relies mainly on the right side of the brain – the creative, freewheeling, lateral-thinking side – and business management skills are based in the logical, analytical left side of the brain. I don’t believe for a moment that they are mutually exclusive, but I do think that not all designers make good business people.

We have all watched brilliant designers struggling to switch from one side of the brain to the other, and disliking the management side of the business so much, they just neglect it. That’s not to say they should never run their own business, it just means they need to analyse and understand their strengths and weaknesses and work with them.

Before you move from being employed to self-employed, first consider the most basic question: are you suited to being self-employed?

For most of us starting out, self-employment means working solo for the majority of the time – especially at the beginning – and that may not suit us all.

To be successful, you must be:

Disciplined: able to do what you need to do, when you need to do it.

Productive: able to manage your time well.

Versatile: the ability to do, or oversee, various roles of small business from bookkeeping through to account service, simultaneously.

Able to handle stress: the buck stops with you. Things will go wrong. You won’t last the distance if you drop your bundle at each mistake.

Entrepreneurial: the ability to sell your services. Modesty is not necessarily an attribute.

So how do you set up a creative business? You start with a Design business model canvas that helps you work out if the idea you have for a business is viable.

You can find out all about the Business model canvas in The business of design.



managing a creative design business