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The Business of Design

To grow and run a design business whether independently or part of a larger organization, is no simple task. As talented as you may be, failure to perform well in the other areas of running a design business may result in a quick end for your entrepreneurial dreams. All entrepreneurs want to succeed. Some have more ambitious goals than others. Generally, designers have clear lifestyle goals which tend to dictate their business plan. A desire to have a family and time away from the business to pursue other interests demands a different business plan than one for the designer who finds lifestyle satisfaction in the business itself.

A design business at its best, is rarely as profitable as businesses that specialize in consumer products, financial services, technology, and manufacturing. Design is a highly competitive business and it is bound to become even more competitive in the years ahead. With the availability of afford- able computer hardware and software, design will come under greater and greater client scrutiny. More of what designers historically have done will most likely be absorbed by in-house support staff, freelance service providers, and technology.

Designers must take a hard look at what we do to discover our unique qualities and value which cannot be easily duplicated. We must explore how the hours we spend can be reimbursed beyond one-time fees through ownership, royalties and residuals. Product designers, in particular, have a unique opportunity to negotiate additional forms of compensation as well as provide a wide range of services. They create the products that ensure their clients’ survival and growth. Graphic designers likewise should explore ways that their corporate identity, packaging and marketing skills can generate compensation that reflects their true value.


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