Design business

Why does your design business exist?

Is it to make money? To work with good clients who appreciate design? To deliver your desired lifestyle? To be seen as a leader in the industry?

In working with many design business owners I hear all sorts of answers.

The business owners who can answer this question quickly and succinctly have thought about the vision they have for their personal life and then shaped their business vision to suit.

They have recognised that to be a business leader they need a clear vision.

This also makes them standout when it comes to developing business relationships and they are better equipped than many of their clients.

The fact is very few design clients (or business owners) have a vision.

According to James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of the bestselling book The Leadership Challenge.

…  few leaders seem to have made a habit of looking ahead; researchers who study executives’ work activities estimate that only 3% of the typical business leader’s time is spent envisioning and enlisting. The challenge, as we know, only escalates with managerial level: Leaders on the front line must anticipate merely what comes after current projects wrap up. People at the next level of leadership should be looking several years into the future. And those in the C-suite must focus on a horizon some 10 years distant.

The conclusion here is, the designer who has a clear vision for their business and can articulate it will be able to work with clients at the C-suite level. They will be able to help clients articulate their vision and translate it into designed communications, products, workplaces etc.

These designers have also developed an approach that can communicate a vision to their team. This gives them the experience to show clients how to bring about change by communicating their vision.

As Kouzes and Posner note, staff want;

visions of the future that reflect their own aspirations. They want to hear how their dreams will come true and their hopes will be fulfilled. We draw this conclusion from our most recent analysis of nearly one million responses to our leadership assessment, The Leadership Practices Inventory. The data tell us that what leaders struggle with most is communicating an image of the future that draws others in—that speaks to what others see and feel.

Without a clear mission to evaluate ideas against, design businesses end up with vague positioning and a lack of cohesion within the business and with clients.

Take home point

The added point is that the vision development process should lead to strategies that improve business performance and develop new business with design-appreciative clients.

If you would like to learn how to develop your vision I demonstrate it in the Vision to new business workshop.

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Greg Branson

Contact Greg Branson if you would like to learn more about the many programs the DBC offers.

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.