an online conversation
about design management

The 5 hardest things about starting a design business

Many 'employed' designers dream of one day starting their own studio. It can be a little isolating when the dream turns into a reality ... we've found one new business owner willing to share their experience.

Clare Balmer started her own business, Container Creative after a brief stint of working in one of Melbourne's leading design studios.

    5 hardest things to conquer in your first year of business

  1. Self Doubt. It's one thing to learn the techniques, but self development in design can take many years.
  2. (Read an earlier article: The 3 stages of learning)
  3. Planning your procedures. Time-lines for production can be a lot to get your head around. How long should a web developer take to build a site you designed? You don't know when to start demanding delivery if you haven't been through the process before.
  4. Communication and personalities. You might have a great relationship with your client, but their business partner may be a whole different story. Learning to communicate and keep everyone on the same page is vital.
  5. Starting/planning the documentation of your business procedures. Invoicing, time-sheets, project management, accounting, filing, archiving, legal requirements.'
  6. Finding the right people and clients to align yourself with. Having the right printer, web developer, copywriter, and other specialists to align yourself with in business can win or lose you clients. When you are just starting out this can be a trial and error process for a long time.

I think the take-away point here is to watch and listen carefully while you are safely employed.


    take notice of how a business is run

    actively build a network of other designers and good, reliable suppliers.

The learning 'how to communicate with others' and 'overcoming self-doubt' is part experience and part living skills.



managing a design studio