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business mistakes by designers

Three common mistakes that small businesses make.

Design studios are small businesses, and some errors of judgment can be common to all small businesses. Scan down this list to see how you rate.

1. Sticking with something for too long

This could be sticking with a dud design solution, a dud client, a dud employee or just a dud business – at some stage we've all been guilty of not knowing when to give up.

There are different solutions for each scenario.

  •  have checks and balances that ensure you can recognise a dud client or employee, and
  • a fresh read of our business plan is a quick way to judge when the business is straying from its objective.

Using a Design business model canvas you can check that your studio is still staying focused. You can see how to use the Design business model canvas in The business of design.

2. Not having a plan

How do you know you've got where you're going if you haven't documented that's where you want to be?

They sound boring, but plans do work. They give focus to a business. They make you articulate what you want and when you want it. They force realistic deadlines on tasks, and give motivation – a reason for being –during difficult times.

Read all about using a Design business model canvas in The business of design.

3. Failure to reinvent the business

Each one of us is individual but our challenges are universal. This has been proven to me in two different scenarios:

  • Our studio joined a business network group –12 industry-different businesses, meeting in a round-table scenario for one day, once a month. It never ceased to amaze us that each month, the problems brought to the table were common to all of the small businesses. We can track our growth and success to solutions brainstormed at these meetings. 13 heads really were better than 2.
  • I attend a variety of business seminars. During this time, I've met, and listened to, a number of principals and designers. Interestingly we all share similar challenges.


Putting processes in place that help avoid making these 3 mistakes will strengthen your business and make it easier to concentrate on other areas. You can avoid all of these mistakes by using a Design business model canvas as outlined in The business of design.