by Cameron S. Foote
If you’re thinking about starting a graphic design business, do yourself a favor. Put down whatever you’re doing and go get a copy of The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business by Cameron S. Foote. Then read it. If you can get through the entire thing and you still want to start your own design business, then congratulations, you’ll probably succeed!
Foote’s book is packed full of great information for anyone looking to start a design firm. He jumps right in with the different types of legal structures a firm can take, and the importance of writing a thorough business plan, and discusses a laundry list of issues that many don’t consider before starting up their business: working with accountants and lawyers, when to consider hiring more staff and how, and how to motivate your staff. Foote also touches on some of the less-than-pleasant situations that can arise: when and how to downsize and the effect it has on your existing employees, as well as what to do (and how to prevent) issues like an employee leaving with your clients or intellectual property theft.
Foote has an excellent section on whether it is better to be a specialty shop or not, how to price your work, how to qualify and work with clients. He goes into detail about dealing with client issues such as client incompetence, conflict of interest, spotting red flags, and how to get feedback about your studio from clients. He also includes a number of forms which are available for free at his website, Creative Business.
All in all, the book is well written and divided into logical sections that make it easy to find what you are looking for. The information covered is a bit daunting, and Foote doesn’t waste time with any feel-good fluff, but you’re a better designer for it, once you’ve finished the book. The issues he addresses are very real and can have a huge impact on your business. This is the stuff you don’t get taught in school, but that every designer should know.
Reprinting allowed with permission of author.