The Leap.

I understand the leap of faith needed to make changes.

It takes time to analyse a situation
It takes planning to decide on an action.
And it takes energy to push forward into the unknown, the unchartered.

It’s not to be underestimated how much easier it would be in the short term to continue business as usual. But long term value of change is often immeasurable.

Arguably the biggest change possible in a small business is changing who you work with, and how. For some of us that’s realising there’s not enough hours in the day and we need others to share the load. For others it means shifting from working alone to working with others.

Collaboration and co-creation make large projects possible for studios of any size, but working with others – be it colleagues or clients — has to be the hardest part of any project. It pays to understand your characteristics and understand the character traits in others.

Here’s some people traits I consider valuable:

Curiosity: Curious people are always learning because they are continually questioning and challenging conventions. They introduce a fresh perspective to an old problem.

Empathy: Great team members imagine their feet in the shoes of others – other designers, other clients, and/or the end market. They are tuned to connect. That’s a good thing. Empathy can improve collaboration, morale, and stress levels. 

Generosity: Having great knowledge/talents/skills as an individual isn’t half as valuable as sharing one’s knowledge/talent/skills. Generous employees are great team players.

Egoless: Designers have to believe everything they present is perfect but that ego needs to be tempered with a good dose of humility and the ability to accept differing opinions. Egoless employees don’t care who came up with what idea. They are more interested in finding the right solution than in holding on to the belief that they have already found the one right answer. Egoless clients are gold.

Communicator: Great ideas mean zilch if they are stored in someone’s head. Being able to articulate why a design is perfect/the market is too broad/the strategy isn’t sound, is invaluable.

Flexibility: Design studios are commercial businesses built to deliver a product or service to market. Preciousness is not a trait you want. Flexibility to change is paramount. It’s entirely possible designs will undergo a plethora of changes and might even be scrapped altogether. There is no room for even a hint of preciousness. Flexibility suits the agile approach: produce ideas quickly, provide timely feedback and push for rapid iterations of a concept. It’s much harder to get attached to ideas that are produced quickly than to something that took weeks.


This is exactly the type of information in our Design Studio Manager Program – delivered online and available as a reference tool or with mentoring.
It’s written for design folk that need to learn practical management skills.
They’re skills we know are valuable because we’ve been in the trenches and we’ve a pretty good idea of what works. And what doesn’t.

If you’d like a log in to sample the course, email Carol.


Carol Mackay

Want more information like this delivered to your inbox every Wednesday?
The Design Business Review is Australia’s only online design management magazine. It’s professional development information written specifically for Australian designers by Australian designers. Best of all, it’s free.


Carol Mackay has embraced change. After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, she pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry. Now with the Design Business Council she uses her experience, and research, to help designers build robust, sustainable businesses, and help businesses integrate, and profit from, design.

Carol works to help designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business. The core of the DBC is the building a design community – over 85% of designers work in businesses with less than 5 employees, many less than 3. That means designers don’t have the same support network of other professionals. The DBC’s solution is supplement  paid gigs with mentoring breakfast meet-ups, informative UNseminars and practical workshops in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

In 2018 Carol co-founded the Clear Communication Awards, and the Business of Design Week. Both will be run in 2019

An archive of her design work at
Her current work can be viewed at and

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.