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5 Things to Focus on When Starting Out as a Designpreneur

Before we get started, let me just take a moment to define what a designpreneur is. As you may have gathered it’s about more than being a designer.

Working as a designer in a studio is one thing and it’s a very admirablel career choice. When you decide to go it alone and start you own design business, that’s when the designpreneur mantle kicks in.

Because now you need more than your design skills to see you through. You need the skills of an entrepreneur to manage business growth, finances, client relationships, marketing and more.

Designpreneur

Is a Designpreneur Different to a Freelancer?

A designpreneur and a freelancer are not the same thing. Not by traditional definitions. A freelancer works for a design studio or in-house on a temporary basis to provide design skills. And whilst some entrepreneurial skills are needed like money management and finding work, there are some fundamental differences.

A freelancer rarely has control of the design outcome or the work they do, their projects are given to them and dictated by the creative director in the studio. Unlike a designpreneur, a freelance doesn’t usually have contact with or influence over the end client or relationships with that client.

For freelancers their community is design-based and that’s how they find their work. Whereas a designpreneur’s community is much broader and will focus on their ideal client in multiple industries. The need for marketing, like having a website, creating content and a social presence, is often more of an essential than a nice to have for a designpreneur.

Is a Designpreneur Different to a Freelancer?

 

A designpreneur and a freelancer are not the same thing. Not by traditional definitions. A freelancer works for a design studio or in-house on a temporary basis to provide design skills. And whilst some entrepreneurial skills are needed like money management and finding work, there are some fundamental differences.

A freelancer rarely has control of the design outcome or the work they do, their projects are given to them and dictated by the creative director in the studio. Unlike a designpreneur, a freelance doesn’t usually have contact with or influence over the end client or relationships with that client.

For freelancers their community is design-based and that’s how they find their work. Whereas a designpreneur’s community is much broader and will focus on their ideal client in multiple industries. The need for marketing, like having a website, creating content and a social presence, is often more of an essential than a nice to have for a designpreneur.

Keep it Simple When You’re Starting Out as a Designpreneur

Designpreneur

Starting your own business can be daunting. There is so much content and messaging around what you should be doing. Before you start going deep into analysing your Google Analytics, spend a fortune on Facebook ads or employ a top-dollar, top-flight business coach, it’s important to come back to basics.

In this article you’ll find the 5 things I think you should focus on as a newbie designpreneur.

Designpreneur
Designpreneur Packages

1. Packages – Keep it simple and easy to work with you

 

Your prospective client wants to buy an end result or outcome. They desire something and they want to be at that end-point. So sell them the end-point.

Define a simple suite of 2-4 packaged service offers that have perceived value and create the desired outcome for your ideal client.

In practical terms…

Rather than a laundry list of deliverables you can design, a designpreneur will offer a value and outcome focused package that mirrors what the client wants. For example, The Start-up Package, The Complete Rebrand Package, or The Ecomm Business Package.

Designpreneur Pricing

2. Pricing – Develop top-down pricing that’s built on your financial goals

 

Rather than charging based on an hourly rate that’s comparable to your peers or project fees based on what you think someone will pay, your pricing should be based on what you want to earn. Divide your annual revenue aspirations with how many packages you can deliver in that time and that will give you a good indication of what you need to be charging.

It’s important to be realistic about your fee earning time. No one works 52 weeks a year, 5 days a week. And don’t forget to account for your costs and the essentials like tax and super.

In practical terms…

If you want to earn $50,000 a year and your costs are 20% then your annual revenue goal is $60,000. But if you charge $3000 per brand project and you can do 12 a year then that will only give you $36,000. You will either need to adjust your income aspirations or increase your pricing.

Designpreneur Profile

3. Profile – The mountain won’t come to you! Be visible and make offers

 

It’s tempting to run before you can walk with this one. You try to be on every social platform there is -Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok, you vow to post every day, invest in Facebook ads and start reading up on the AIDA model.

My advice is don’t over complicate this one. Focus on being found through valuable content, your website, an intentional social presence, and build a community. 

Don’t forget to sell. Remember you’re ensuring people can make an informed choice, you’re not trying to persuade them or be sleazy. But don’t leave people who find you wondering what to do next. Talk about what you do and how to buy from you regularly and clearly. 

In practical terms…

When it comes to valuable content think quality over quantity. A few posts a week that speak to your audience or a monthly blog written with SEO in mind will add more value than posting daily for the sake of it. And don’t forget human to human relationships trump everything else. Dedicate time to building your authentic persona, engaging with others on social and building your network.

Designpreneur Process

4. Process – Demonstrate the magic in the method

 

What you do is just for starters. How you do it is what sets you apart. Developing and owning your unique design or creative method adds weight, believability and memorability to your value story.

Think about the steps you go through, and the models and frameworks you apply, to get your client the outcome. Don’t assume your client knows or understands how things work.

In practical terms…

My unique methodology is BrandNorth. It’s the process I go through to create robust brands for my clients. At the centre of that is my Brand Strategy Framework, The Brand Compass. It’s mine and I’ve developed it over time based on my own insights and experience. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel but packaging, naming and claiming your approach is powerful.

Designpreneur Protection

5. Protection – Ensure your interests are looked after

 

Your project scoping information, payment terms and terms and conditions are not optional. They’re not a nice to have. It’s important to put solid financial and legal foundations in place from day one.

This is about ensuring you get paid promptly and fairly, and you protect your business from risk. Doing this when you need to refer a tardy client to your payment terms or lean on your legal Terms & Conditions is too late!

In practical terms…

As a minimum in your business, I suggest you have a privacy policy and terms of use on your website. Plus a clear Value-Led proposal document that details the scope of your service packages, supported by your Terms & Conditions that clearly layout the terms of working with you including cancellation policy, payment terms, late payment fees, your IP protections, liabilities etc. I strongly recommend you speak to a business lawyer and get this stuff sorted.

If you want to get your design business set up for success from the start or you’ve been doing it for a while and you want to get your ducks in a row and set foundations for growth and sustainability, check out my Creative Value Incubator program. In this 12 month program we cover the foundations for you to be a valuable designpreneur.

Well hello there!

The Creative Value Incubator is a brand new program to support graphic & web designers and brand-led creatives to grow and thrive

The Creative
Value Incubator is a brand new program to support graphic & web designers and brand-led creatives to grow and thrive

Over 8 modules, this 12 month program will take a deep-dive into the fundamentals for creative business success which I’ve learned and put into practice during my 20+ years in the industry.

Ready to join me? >> Check it out <<

Bec Hughes | Mentor to Designers and Creatives

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