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Confident vs arrogant designers

I can’t imagine the loss of control a marketing executive, author, entrepreneur, inventor, manufacturer, or communication specialist must feel when they handover a brief (and budget) to a designer. Chances are they have lived and breathed their gem from just a kernel of an idea into what they now have. They’re faced with losing control of an idea they’ve nurtured. Or worse still, they may have been given responsibility to progress someone else’s idea to the next phase of its life. Gawd. The pressure.

If you were in the client’s shoes, what kind of designer would you like to work with?

A confident designer

Without doubt, clients want to deal with a confident designer:

Confident you can help them understand the real challenge.

Confident your research/discovery will result in the best design solution for that client at that time.

Confident in design management to deliver the best value, within the budget and to schedule.

Confident you can lead a team of the right people for the project.

Confident you can help your client give the feedback you need at the right time.

But don’t confuse confidence with arrogance.

Confident is sharing ownership of a project with your team and your client. Arrogance is when the experience of working with you, and putting up with your attitude is not worth the final product, however good.

Yes, it is a balancing act but a base of confidence comes from knowledge.
Knowledge comes from really understanding the crux of the problem.
Understanding leads to clarity.

The Design Business Council is built around Greg and I sharing knowledge we wish we had earlier.
Knowledge we know would have helped us make better business decisions quicker.
Knowledge that would have given us more confidence to back ourselves and deliver better design solutions.

Our knowledge is gained from life experience, from travel – visiting business owners overseas, from specific research into better ways of doing, and from over a decade of working with Australian design agency owners.

I’m confident we can help designers build strong, sustainable businesses because I have proof.
Here’s a happy client from last week’s workshop:

I recently attended Design Business Council’s pricing masterclass online with around 10 other participants. It ran for just on three hours with a couple of well-time 10 min breaks. As a Finance Manager I was hoping for formulas, benchmarks, and spreadsheets. What I got was so much more valuable. After a brief introduction we were taken through a basic formula to ensure you are covering you’re costs.

This took 20 mins at best but then they launched into just on 2.5 hours of solid gold.

The focus moved away from a simple hourly charge to focusing on how you provide value to clients, how you talk to clients, and why you should educate clients to focus on outcomes and not cost. I came away wishing I’d included our entire Account Service Team and other senior managers in on the class. Highly recommend this masterclass to anyone who only charges for their design time and isn’t valuing their expertise enough.

Matt Bald, Finance Manager. Ivy Street.

    Got a comment/question? As always, happy to discuss further, just email.

    Carol Mackay
    Co-founder Design Business Council.

    We help designers build a more profitable design business

    We do that by
    • supporting creatives to learn management skills
    • helping identify and target better clients
    • increasing your studio’s productivity, and
    • focusing on a sustainable work/life balance.
    We share our knowledge in a library of free resources, workshops, group and one-on-one mentoring.

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    About Carol Mackay

    After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, Carol pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry.

    Carol’s special power has always been an ability to use design to translate difficult to understand or complex messages. She believes design brings clarity to complex issues. From clarity comes understanding, and understanding leads to knowledge.

    As a designer she used those skills with clients like The Magistrates, County and Supreme Courts; Ombudsman schemes and Emergency Service agencies. At DBC she uses the same skills … she helps designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business.

    Outside of DBC Carol mentors graduates and is a Board member at Never Not Creative, a community of creatives pushing for change in the creative industry.


    An archive of Carol’s previous career is at
    Current work can be viewed at and

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