I cannot believe I am already writing my one year anniversary blog! This year has flown by, and what a year it has been! When I set up my own design business, I never dreamed that in the first year I would run several residential projects, design and install a marketing suite for Savills and grow the team at Muchmore Design. But here we are! Just the other day I was photographing our first marketing suite project and I had to pinch myself a little to make sure it was all real! It has been a hard journey to get where I am but it has all been worth it.
It was always my career goal to work for myself, and I knew that one day I would get there. I also wanted to achieve this goal before I turned 30, which I managed to do (just!). In making the decision to work for myself, I was excited to be in a position where I could design and lead how I truly wanted. I have been so passionate about design throughout my life that I relished the chance to create a business and a team of people who cared as much about the work and our clients as I do. My Dad also inspired me to branch out for myself by teaching me the value of hard work. He was able to achieve great success in his career through his work ethic. When I was younger I wanted to be just as successful as he was, and hopefully one day I will be.
Achieving my dream of setting up my own design business has certainly been challenging, but they say that nothing in life worth having comes easy! To anyone out there who is thinking about setting out on their own, here are some things I have learned during my first year and my 5 top tips for going it alone:
1. Make sure the timing is right. I always wanted to setup my own business but I waited until I gained the necessary experience and contacts I needed to make my business successful before I started. There were definitely times in my career that I wanted to sack it all and just go for it (Monday mornings especially!), but I knew it wasn’t quite the right time. Be patient. The wait is well worth it!
2. Get your business head on. No one likes doing the books. But when you start off you are more than likely going to have to be managing the accounts on your own. Even if you use an accountant to help file your business taxes, you will still need to keep up with the day to day. That means keeping receipts, logging costs, tracking invoices, etc. This can be difficult if you are creative like me, but it is hugely important if you want to run a successful business.
3. Know you margins. You can’t be financially successful if you don’t know how much your time is worth and what you need to bring in each month to stay in the money. So when you are working out what your pricing model is going to be make sure you account for all of your costs. Depending on what industry you are in initially you might have to price lower than your established competitors to break into the market but make sure you don’t go so low that after a while you’re shelling out more than you’re taking in!
4. Grow your network. It’s all about connections; as soon as I went self-employed I told anyone and everyone what I was doing, family, friends, friends of friends, the postman! As soon as you start talking to people you will be surprised by how far your connections go. I gained one of my first big projects this year by reaching out to an old friend and it paid off! Networking is never easy, and can be scary at first if you’ve had little experience in your career but it has massive potential to get you that next job or next key connection.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Going solo can be daunting, it certainly was for me! But just because it is your own business don’t feel like you are all by yourself. When I first started out I was really hesitant to ask for help because I felt like as it was my own business that I should do everything myself. After having some very stressful days early on I finally asked for help and was glad I did! Unless you are incredibly skilled and experienced, no one person is going to be a master of sales, finance, marketing, design, operations etc. So when you need help in an area you are not experienced in make sure to ask for it! Ask family, friends, online sources, wherever. Draw on other people’s experience to not only learn and grow more yourself but help your business make the right decisions.
Looking forward for Muchmore Design my goals are to simply keep growing the business and the team. We recently took on someone working on our commercial development and I am looking to add additional designers. I already have some very exciting/scary meetings lined up for next month which I hope will propel Muchmore Design to the next level, allowing us to really start to compete with the bigger design companies. I see big things ahead and I can’t wait to keep sharing these with you!
Here is where I bring the cheese, “Remember dream, believe, achieve”