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What's holding you back?September 30 will mark four years that I've been releasing episodes of the Resourceful Designer podcast. During the time I’ve received hundreds of emails from people thanking me for what I do. They tell me how much I’ve helped them, inspired them and motivated them.
There's no way for me to express how this makes me feel, knowing that me, a designer, working out of my home office in small-town Ontario, Canada is having such an impact on designers from around the globe. It’s truly humbling, and I cherish every message I receive.
But over time, I’ve noticed a common theme with many of the messages. Web and graphic designers write to me saying that after listening to Resourceful Designer for so long, they've finally started their own design business. I'm happy for them, but I can’t help wonder what was holding these people back from starting sooner? Why did it take them so long of listening to the podcast, in some cases years, before starting their business journey?
Does this describe your situation? Have you started your design business yet?
I understand those people who tell me they’ve lost their job for one reason or another and have decided with my inspiration to start their own graphic or web design business instead of looking for new employment. But what about those who tell me they’ve finally built up the courage to begin working with clients as a side gig while still employed somewhere? These people have a steady income at their current job, so the fear of not being able to support themselves isn’t a factor. What was holding them back? What hesitation was stopping them from trying it sooner?
If you’re in a similar situation, where you haven't started your business yet, why haven’t you?
Don't get me wrong; I’m not encouraging you to quit your current job. I don’t need that responsibility. Yes, some people have told me that I’ve given them the courage to do just that, quit their job and start their own design business. That’s a huge leap, and a lot of things need to be in place before someone does that. However, in most cases, quitting your day job is not required if you want to start a side gig.
Let me ask again. If you are listening to this podcast because of your dream of running your own design business, but you haven’t started one yet, why not? Is it fear? Is it imposter syndrome? What factor is preventing you from moving forward?
Whatever is holding you back, maybe I can help give you one more little nudge.
The 80/20 rule.
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It states that 20% of your effort will produce 80% of your desired results.
- 20% of a sports team’s players will contribute 80% of the goals they score.
- 20% of an investment portfolio will produce 80% of the profit.
- 20% of a retail store's client base will purchase 80% of its products.
- 20% of your design clients will result in 80% of your income.
Let's get your design business started
Let's use the 80/20 rule to make it easier for you to finally start your design business.
Write down ten things you need to do to start your business.
Of those ten things, I want you to select only two of them. Choose the two that will create the most positive impact toward helping you reach that goal.
Following the 80/20 rule, Those two things, the two most important ones from your list of 10, should bring you 80% of the results you need and bring you closer to having your own design business.
Even if those two things are not enough, they will put you further along the path than you are now.
Small steps, taken regularly, will lead to progress. It’s just like finishing a marathon is accomplished by putting one foot in front of the other. It’s called progress. Every step you take towards entrepreneurship will get you closer to that goal. Break down everything you need to do into small manageable tasks, and you’ll find it easier to get things done.
Maybe this might mean finding your first client. That may be all it takes to get you started.
Remember, you can be a freelancer before you become an entrepreneur.
The pieces will follow.
Some people think they need to have everything in place before they can start a design business.
- I Can’t start yet; I don’t have a business name.
- I Can’t start yet; I don’t have a website.
- I Can’t start yet; I don’t have business cards.
- I Can’t start yet; I haven’t registered my business.
- I Can’t start yet; I haven’t figured out invoicing.
- I Can’t start yet; I don’t have a contract.
- Etc., etc., etc.
Sure, these are all things you will eventually need, but they are not things you need to start your business journey.
All that’s required for you to get started are your skills as a designer and the willingness to find your first client. The rest can follow.
I want you to remember; you define your business; your business doesn’t define you. Meaning, you can get started now, and let the business grow and evolve around you over time. If the reason you have not started on the journey of working for yourself is that you are waiting for all the puzzle pieces to fall into place, I want you to know that it will never happen. Ask any business owner, and they'll tell you, There will always be learning and improving, and innovating and growing. In other words, there will always be more puzzle pieces to add to the picture.
When should you start?
So when is the perfect time to start your own web design business or graphic design business? Even if it’s not an officially registered business yet?
Why not today? You already have the knowledge and skills after all. That knowledge and those skills are all a client cares about when it comes to hiring a designer. Clients don't care about your business name, or if you have a fancy invoice. All a client wants is a designer that can produce a design solution for them. There’s no reason you can’t do that right now — the rest of it, all the business stuff, that can come later.
If your goal is to start your own design business, either it full-time or part-time, what’s holding you back?
You can’t accomplish anything without starting.
What makes you hesitate before taking business leaps?
Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.
Questions of the Week
Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.
This week’s question comes from John
Have you ever been in this situation:
There’s a perfect client you really want to work with. Someone you see over and over again at social gatherings and such and you keep pitching them your services in the hopes they’ll eventually bite?
Then one day they contact you with a project and you’re super excited and feel like you’ve landed a million dollar client?
You Start working on their project and everything is going really well. Then, a few days into the project you start to lose that fire you had. The fire that made you crave working with this client.
You start slacking off, you don't reply to their emails as fast as you should, your mind starts drifting to other projects because you’re not excited anymore about the client or their project. You still provide them with great work but the passion isn’t in it anymore.
Do you ever have episodes like this and what do you do in such a case?
To find out what I told John you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
Tip of the week Upgrade your 32-bit applications (Mac Users)
Mac Users: All 32-bit applications on your computer will cease to function when you update to OS Catalina Update.
If you've noticed this warning messages when opening an application “Application Name” is not optimized for your Mac and needs to be updated. It's your computer warning you that it won't support that application in future updates.
To see which applications on your computer need to be updated, select About This Mac > System Report > Software > Applications.
The right-hand column will show if an application is 64 bit or not with a simple Yes or No. If you click on the title at the top, it will sort the list with all the Yes and No together making it easier to view.
Look through all the applications marked NO and determine if it’s something you still need. If not, you can delete it. It won’t work after the next OS update anyway. If it’s something you do want to keep, find out if there’s an update available and update it.
Make sure all the applications you do use are 64 bit before updating to OS Catalina. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use them anymore.
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I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.
I want to help you.
Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org