What a fantastic meeting in a room full of creatives! Now I don’t normally do mornings, I’m kind of a night owl, so I try to avoid scheduling anything that involves driving into the cities anywhere near rush hour traffic. But this meeting…I knew I had to be there and it was worth the 6am alarm and the drive into Minneapolis.
The topics were geared for solopreneurs in the design industry and all were worth their weight in gold (or bandwidth and ink in our case). The first one was all about getting clear and focused. Dan Woychick made some great points about being clear on how others see you. Is it the same as you see yourself? What is your position? your niche? My biggest take-away from his presentation was this: doing is a commodity – if you want to get work, you need to have an expertise. You want people to pay you for your thinking, not your doing. Every where you look you can find people who do what you do. What is it that sets you apart? It is important to be clear about who you are and what you know to be successful whether you want to be a freelancer or find employment.
Dan’s other big tip was the importance of forming a network. “We are only as strong as the collaborators we surround ourselves with”, he said. Who are you surrounding yourself with?
Kenneth Kunkle is an attorney who works with creatives. He shared great information about how to structure your business, the importance of having written agreements when you work with someone else, what the difference is between an employee and an independent contractor and copyright information. He is definitely an expert when it comes to the left side of the brain portion of your business and one to connect with when you are ready to get started in business.
Lastly, Doug Powell shared how important it is to have income that doesn’t center around client services. He suggests it will be very important for new designers to come up with creative ways to make money by turning some of those ideas that flood into your mind into an actual business that can general revenue for you. Once you have an idea, he covered some of the basic necessary steps to making it real. You must look at who your customer is, what business model you are going to follow, who can help you get the answers you need and whether you need a business plan or not. Now if you answer the questions he suggested, you have the good start of a business plan so it isn’t as difficult as one might think.
Suggested resources by the presenters included:
- Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
- The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
If you are not a member of AIGA, you can still attend their events by just paying a slightly higher fee. Another great event well worth the money!
Joke from the event:
How many designers does it take to change a lightbulb?
Answer: Does it have to be a lightbulb?