We write about the business of design

We research and write about the type of information we know is helpful to manage and grow a sustainable creative business.

DBC is a trusted source of information

We research and write to help designers manage and grow a sustainable creative business

We share what we write in various ways. Each week we write a free weekly article about the business of design. We share information on LinkedIn and we write for publication. We wrote a long-form traditional book titled The Business of Design and we regularly publish short, succinct guides on specific subjects. More information below.

I picked up The Business of Design towards the end of a financial year … not only did it speak our language but it included all of the areas we were struggling with. A year later we were part of the DBC mentoring program and making monumental changes to our business. Not only did this increase our bottom line, it also gave us the confidence to back our decision making in a lot of areas we didn’t give ourselves credit. Perhaps the best lesson learnt was our value as a service provider and recognising that often our service extends far beyond digital artwork. For this we are forever grateful and cannot recommend the program enough!

Vanessa Kelly, Hello Mellow  

I find that designers love to talk about how amazing their latest projects are, but never about how accurately they estimate their billable time. Conversely, accountants are happy to talk about profitability summaries, but don’t seem to understand the “love” that goes into our work – because how do you charge for that? And that’s what’s great about “The Business of Design”, a book that tackles just that. It gives clear, practical advice for running a creative agency with real, Australian figures and benchmarks that are specific to the graphic design industry.
This is the perfect “go to” manual for any design studio bookshelf.

Sarah Cook, Headjam NSW  

Unravelling the numbers

Creatives generally don’t fail because they can’t deliver good design. They fail because they don’t manage their finances to remain viable. That’s fair because accounting is not usually part of a design curriculum.

Added to that, in a many sectors, business owners hire and work alongside financial experts. That doesn’t usually happen in many creative businesses because the majority have less than five employees, many with less than three. It means our financial expert is most likely a subcontractor, someone outside our business. That makes it imperative creative business owners need to know how to brief, and debrief with confidence and clarity. So, it’s no longer an option, creatives need to understand finance.

Finance in a design studio is a practical guide to managing the finances of a creative business. It includes all the factors creatives need to run a profitable, sustainable business.

Information like:

  • how to understand a profit and loss statement
  • how to calculate hourly rates
  • understanding different cost structures
  • understanding different revenue streams
  • discussion about the four most common problems in a studio: cash flow, debtors, profitability and capital finance.
  • how to develop short and long-term financial measures.

At $30 plus GST this 48 page ebook is an essential reference tool for any designer.

I struggled to comprehend the finances in my studio before I found this book. It now sits permanently on my desk. It’s must go-to reference guide, especially useful when I speak to my accountant.

Suzanne, Design studio owner, Sydney, New South Wales

Order your copy here.

A new business strategy

A 52 page ebook specifically tailored to creatives wanting to chase new business.

Research consistently finds a vast majority of clients choose LinkedIn as the most important social media platform but surprisingly, few designers use LinkedIn.

Designers hate cold calling — picking up the phone to call a client fills many with dread. And most clients don’t like it either. Clients want to build a relationships. They want creatives who understand their business and have empathy with business challenges.

It’s tough to build a relationship online but we know LinkedIn works. We know because over the past 10 or so years, we’ve mentored and coached many Australian designers and the one challenge common to all is the struggle to find new clients. We’ve used the approach outlined in this ebook and without fail, it’s always worked to help identify prospective clients and find the right information to tailor a bespoke approach.

It’s written specifically for Australian designers covering topics like:

  • why new business is important and why use LI works
  • what constitutes a good profile
  • how to use LI if you don’t like writing…
  • a sample LI new business strategy
  • case studies of Australian designers using LI

People laugh at me when I say that LinkedIn is my favourite social media tool, but Design Business Council’s LinkedIn for Designers identifies why. Not just about networking, this savvy and valuable guide for designers (or anyone!) shows how to optimise LinkedIn to match your new business strategy. Full of thoughtful tips, easy steps to follow and clear examples to boot, this guide is perfect for anyone looking to strategically secure new work.
Libby de Souza, Senior Producer, Portable.

Order your copy here.

How bad can it get?

If the pandemic taught the creative industry anything, it taught us the better we understand our business, the easier to identify, understand and assess risks.

But what are the risks we face?

The 2020 Risk Management Survey by the Governance Institute of Australia found 60% of respondents thought potential damage to brand and reputation is their most immediate and serious risk. While that’s a great stat to weave into a client conversation it’s important not to overlook other potential risks.

We’ve researched and identified five potential areas of risk to a creative business: risk to your reputation; risk of unplanned growth; risk to you or your employee’s health; risk of financial insolvency; risk to your intellectual property and risk due to failure to innovate.

This publication dives deep into each of these areas and discusses how to assess and address each one.

Understanding our businesses intimately is the key for every creative professional. Understanding the risks, both known and those on the horizon are what will help us unlock the greatests opportunities in our businesses. I read through DBC’s “How bad can it get?” ebook and was nodding after each page. Yes it can get bad, and sometimes the ‘bad’ is hiding in plain sight and we subconsciously choose not to see it. This DBC book gives some really great insights into the areas where risk exists, and does a great job in lifting the rug under which we sweep all those things we choose to leave for another day. Read it, weep and then get on with building a great creative business.”
Jim AntonopoulosManaging Director, Tank

68 pages of risk management available for download at $30 + GST

Order your copy here.

How much is a ‘good’ wage?

Rewarding good staff is not just about the money but everyone likes to be well rewarded.

That’s why we’ve written a guidebook to rewarding creatives.

It’s as valuable for freelancers and employees as it is for studio/agency owners.
It includes:

  • benchmark wages – we combined our knowledge with research from Artisan; Become; The Brownbill Effect; Creative Natives;Creative Recruiters and The Creative Store to give definitive wage ranges for 28 positions in the creative industry. Not only that, we describe what skills will get you from the bottom to the top of that range.
  • benchmark freelance rates for 28 positions range of positions in the creative industry.
  • and because it’s not all about money, we describe five alternative ways to reward employees and why they’re successful.

Pay rates in the creative industry have always been arbitrary. Our industry has never been unionised or under a relevant State award so salary packages are often based on hear-say and market-demand.

That makes it hard for creative business owners to come up with the right figure. We also talk about job descriptions because that’s what holds these figures together.

It’s 40 pages of relevant, current information available at $30 + GST

Order your copy here.

A book about founding, managing and building a creative business

The Business of Design is the essential reference for all Australian design businesses. It contains all the information needed to start, manage and grow a design studio.

It’s a practical tool written from a completely local perspective. It’s about the Australian design industry, written for Australian creatives, by two Australian design practitioners. The content is relevant to micro-, mid- or a large studios. They all face similar challenges.

Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll find:

  • the Australian design scene – a snapshot of our industry
  • how to plan a design business – what to do now, and the next steps to take
  • costing, budgeting and (best of all) how to explain design value to clients
  • how to grow a studio, where to get new business
  • financial management, from managing debts to financing your business
  • the design business model canvas and what makes it invaluable.

At $50 plus GST this 192 page book is an essential reference for your business.


The book is written in simple language, taking a billion complex business concepts and ordering them into a concise, logical and easy to follow read. The Business of Design sells for $90. (I’d strongly suggest that would be the best $90 you could invest in your design business)

Dave Ansett, Truly Deeply, Victoria

Order your copy here.

Not got the cashflow to access our services at the moment? We get that. Hopefully soon, in the meantime there’s lots of ways to access our research and insights:

  • Subscribe to the Design Business Review – a weekly article about the business of design
  • Access a library of review articles here
  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Follow Greg on LinkedIn
  • Follow Carol on LinkedIn

People laugh at me when I say that LinkedIn is my favourite social media tool, but Design Business Council’s LinkedIn for Designers identifies why. Not just about networking, this savvy and valuable guide for designers (or anyone!) shows how to optimise LinkedIn to match your new business strategy. Full of thoughtful tips, easy steps to follow and clear examples to boot, this guide is perfect for anyone looking to strategically secure new work.

Libby Tiding Senior Producer, Portable

If you are a design professional looking to bolster your new business strategy, the LinkedIn for designers ebook is for you. It’s full of convincing examples and actionable tips to harness the benefits of LinkedIn for new business development.

Audrey Mailhot, Design Manager, Swearwords

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