In 1998 I started a design company when I realized that freelancing was the same thing as running a business. Boy was I wrong.
In fact, I was on a 15 year track in which I evolved from a designer creating a job for himself to a entrepreneur with a mission and a team.
As you might imagine, I read EVERY book available on the subject of running a design business. Read isn’t the right word. Consumed is more like it. I was ravenous/desperate for insight into what I was doing right, what I was doing wrong, what other people did and what other people didn’t do.
I read Tad Crawford’s books and bought his CDs. I read the ReCourses stuff. I downloaded forms, tested briefs, was humbled by methodologies and always felt several steps behind a rapidly changing practice. I didn’t have the fundamentals from business school, didn’t apprentice at a great shop and steal their methodology, and only realized I was an ‘entreprenuer’ a few years in.
Last week I started reading a book that trumps everything I’ve read put together.
DESIGN IS A JOB by Mike Monteiro validates all of my beliefs and vindicates tough choices I’ve made as recently as two weeks ago. It’s staring at my disapprovingly through my ipad regarding a few things I know better about but have been putting off. It has reminded me of things I knew were important but forgot. And it’s even taught me a few new tricks.
The best part is I still have 100 pages left.
But I’m not suggesting you read this if you’re a designer. Go ahead, but unless you’re already inclined to work in sync with your values, a lot of what you implement from the book will still feel like you’re faking it. You know who you are.
No, this one is for clients. This book will give you more insight into the motivations, care and value of a service provider than anything I’ve ever seen. And I think you’ll be safe applying what you learn to just about any professional creative services provider.
I feel like I’m cheating a bit by sharing this with you. It’s a peak behind the curtain at the heart, nervous system and engine of a designer. On the other hand, the spirit of the book is about a partnership approach, so the more you can empathize with our needs–what it takes to hit it out of the park for you, the more dynamic our opportunities are.
Want just one of the 50 pearls of wisdom I’ve underlined?
Beware of clients who have waited to call you until they have a perfect diagram of what they need and want you to color it in. If they’re not coming to you for strategy and problem-solving, they’re not coming to you for design, they’re coming to you for production. And if you take on production work, you don’t get to call yourself a designer.
You can roll your eyes at how much they don’t understand about design or you can roll up your sleeves and begin practicing your craft by helping them clarify what they need.
Don’t wait, but don’t be surprised if I buy you a copy for the next holiday.