Could you build a business with your design skills? Photograph: Brand New Images/Getty Images
The majority of design studios are started by graphic designers, often with a degree in graphic design, who have worked for other studios. However, some very good studios are run by non-designers. And studios are often set up by a partnership of designers and non-designers, each bringing their own particular expertise to the venture.
If you are going to set up a design studio, then you need someone to design for. It is important to find the right clients and build a relationship. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. A design studio offers a service and your approach might suit some clients but not others.
Aim to build an understanding of what a client hopes to achieve from the projects you work on together. This helps to ensure all parties are clear on the ultimate aims for any design work. In my experience, clients can become ambassadors for your studio, even acting as unofficial new business developers.
There are thousands of graphic design studios, so why would a client work with yours? It is vital to be clear on your brand of your business – why you run it, what it offers, and how people might experience it.
Clearly communicate the value your studio will bring to clients and they will appreciate the benefit of working with you. Don’t worry about comparing yourself with other like businesses – spend time really considering how you can best communicate your brand to potential customers.
Find your niche, be great at what you do and work with collaborators who are great at what they do
Eventually your studio will grow and will need employees. When looking, the best place to start is always with personal recommendations. Use any networks of trusted people you have built up and ask them for suggestions.
Do not look for clones of yourself – having everyone in the studio doing the same thing is not a good strategy. If you’re a little weak in a certain area then try to bring in people whose strengths are in these areas. One of the most important things I learned from the founder of a well-known design studio was to never be afraid to employ people who are better than you.