Design Business Council mentor and coach designers on an as-needed basis or in a set monthly Chairman program to build a better business.
As mentors and coaches we act as advisers. We work with you to identify the challenges. We help you recognise the design value you bring to your clients. Our insights help uncover ways to develop new design business. Then we work on helping develop your creative team.
We provide insight and guidance based on our experiences: first running a successful design studio, and then mentoring hundreds of designers through the DBC.
We have three ways the Design Business Council will mentor and coach.
The Chair program: The design Chair is a four-month commitment that involves monthly meetings to discuss your business. It starts with a set of agreed objectives. The meetings are scheduled, have an agenda and minutes. The accountability delivers results. Between meetings, the Chair is available for phone, Zoom or email support as needed.
Business management for designers: This program is unique: it’s about building management skills. It’s a structured mentoring approach that supports business owners and managers to build their business planning and management capability through review, mentoring, coaching and business planning.
Issue based mentoring: We offer a bespoke, ad hoc, issue-based mentoring program for design studio owners. This program is tailored to your needs. Some studios needs help growing, others need help planning, and still others may just have a short-term staffing issue.
The Chair program
Need an alternative view?
Want to streamline your business?
Want more work? or different work?
Maybe you want to test a new business strategy?
Or need help identifying the way forward?
These are all roles for a Chair of the Board.
Problem is, you probably don’t have a board, and you are not alone. Research into the Australian design industry shows 85% of studios have less than three employees. That means most designers are on the tools or fronting clients, with no headspace to work on their business. That’s where the DBC Chair program can help.
What does a design Chair do?
A Chair’s role is to understand, but be independent from the operational running of the business. We give an objective and critical perspective to your studio and it’s position within the Australian design industry.
Our role includes:
Strategy: We use our industry experience to challenge and contribute to your vision and business strategy to build a clear, robust and sustainable future.
Performance: We monitor and question your personal and business performance against key objectives.
Risk: We identify and manage the major risks like cashflow and your new business funnel.
People: Managing creatives is perhaps the biggest challenge of all creative businesses. We help in onboarding, job descriptions, contracts, management and exit strategies of employees.
Carol and Greg have a proven history of founding and managing an Australian design business, and more recently meeting with and mentoring many Australian design businesses. Their value is in this knowledge and experience working in and on Australian design studios.
The Australian design scene is different to others. And what works in Brisbane doesn’t necessarily work in Perth and may not work in Melbourne. Our strength is we have worked in and with Australian design businesses for over 30 years.
The design Chair process
The design Chair is a four-month commitment that involves monthly meetings to discuss your business. It starts with a set of agreed objectives. The meetings are scheduled, have an agenda and minutes. The accountability delivers results. Between meetings, the Chair works on your business and is available for phone, skype or email support as needed.
Some studios participate for four months, have a break to get stuff done and then return for issues based meetings. Others have been part of the design Chair program for over 4 years, using the program as an ongoing presence. It’s like having access to a 30-year design management knowledge bank that can help manage your studio, plan growth and even help negotiate with staff.
Greg was a co-founder and MD of Mackay Branson design for over 25 years. For most of that time, he had a Chairman that held him accountable. Monthly meetings discussed business direction, finance and cashflow. It was not only scheduled time to plan the direction of the business, it meant the difficult tasks couldn’t be shelved. The studio prospered under the additional eye(s). Greg used that knowledge to build the Chair program.
Greg’s value to creatives is his knowledge and experience working in and on Australian design studios. He’s a walking knowledge bank of everything from salary benchmarks through to tried and tested new business strategies.
Carol was the co-founder and Creative Director of Mackay Branson Design. When Greg started DBC she continued the studio to bankroll the new business. That means she clocked up 34 years of managing clients, a studio, and a team of creatives before pivoting from client-focused projects to rejoin Greg.
Her role in the DBC is to research international creative business trends and share her knowledge and experience from a designer’s perspective.
The chair program is bespoke
Sometimes designers work with Greg, sometimes Carol, sometimes both. That’s the benefit of the Chair program – it’s bespoke. It’s specifically about you and your business.
Walking knowledge bank
We offer a bespoke, issue-based mentoring program for design studio owners. This program is tailored to your needs. Some studios needs help growing, others need help planning, and still others may just have a short-term staffing issue.
Typical topics sometimes raised include:
- growth strategies: how does a studio grow? Should you find the clients first and then the staff, or is it better to recruit and then market specific skills?
- staffing problems: managing creatives is not for the faint-hearted. Greg can help from everything from identifying gaps in studio skills to negotiating productivity, job descriptions and salary packages.
- marketing / self promotion issues: spruiking your own business has to be the hardest. Greg can help you identify your design value proposition.
- financial planning: sustainability is the key to business success and that is only possible with goals and strategies in place, which leads us to…
- business strategies: even micro-businesses need to plan, with documented strategies and tactics. It takes the stress out of day-to-day management.
An initial discussion will identify your specific challenges and talk through possible plans to address them.