Why most businesses fail, and solid tips for design business success

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Most businesses fail not because their owners aren’t good at what they do. A design studio doesn’t generally fail because they create poor designs. A dentist doesn’t generally fail because he cannot fix your teeth. Most businesses fail because their owners don’t understand how to run a business. As a design entrepreneur, this is the single most important fact you need to understand. If you as a designer can learn how to run a business well, your business has a

How freelancers can compete with design marketplace sites

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The last few posts I’ve written here have all come from excellent reader suggestions on this post. Today’s is no different. Joe Malleck writes: One topic that I’m interested in is what a designer’s future role in the marketplace is. With the uprising of theme marketplaces and the awareness that you can essentially purchase design as a commodity, where do we as designers fit into this new landscape? How can we leverage our skills and insight to make fortunes, without

Freelancing Fear: What causes it and how to overcome it

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When I relaunched this brand new version of GDB earlier this year, I asked you to submit your ideas for posts you’d like to see over the next 12 months. (Haven’t had a chance to submit your request? Click here to view the original new-year-launch post.) One reader, Carla, posted this request:   Any suggestions about … being afraid? Any suggestions on how to overcome my apprehensive behavior (which is not normal, I am an outgoing, sociable person)?!I have business

How I got tons of new design clients with this small freebie

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A couple years ago, I was stuck – big time. Maybe you’re familiar with it. You’ve been designing for a while, finding clients, fulfilling their needs, rinse and repeat. But my client pool was starting to grow thin (PS – “3 Simple Tips to Keep Your Client Pool Full“) and I was getting worried. No clients = no cash It’s obvious. Without any clients, it’s hard to make money as a designer (unless you work hard at passive income). So

Help me name my design business! + tips on naming yours

help me name my design business

GDB readers, it’s time to name my design business, and I really need your help. But first, a little back story: When I got laid off last February after 5 years with the company, I was devastated. I loved my core coworkers. I needed the paycheck. I hated that I had been chosen as the weakest link (which probably isn’t true – I also received the biggest paycheck). I cried. And then… literally the next day I started looking for

Are you turning into the client you hate the most?

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Every designer has that high-maintenance client who always needs their projects rushed to the highest priority. You know, the one that calls at 4:30pm on a Friday needing something for a Saturday morning conference but who is still waiting for legal’s final review of the text? This is the client my bank account loves but that makes me cringe when I see their incoming call. What words and phrases would you use to describe that sort of client? Unorganized. Haphazard.

Why designers are terrible at communicating with clients (and how to fix it)

Viewing in an email or RSS? Watch the video here. Just admit it, there’s been one time or another that you’ve been terrible at communicating with your design clients. I know there have been times when communication between us is outrageously horrific. An ephiphany But recently, I realized what the big problem is. The insight came while reading a book titled Made to Stick (which recently made my top-six business books you should read in 2012 list). The problem? Something

Don’t hate freelancers with full-time jobs

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If you’ve followed the blog for very long, you know that I used to exclusively work as a freelance designer until about a year ago when I got a full-time job working in marketing. Since that time, I’ve had a lot of people who have wondered what advice I can offer since I’m not a “real freelancer.” Today, I advocate an anti-hate campaign for all you freelancers out there who also have full-time jobs. Guess what: I love my full-time