Recently my professor hosted a discussion panel for my entrepreneurship class. The panel consisted of 3 local designers who all have very unique experiences working within the industry.
The guest speaker that particularly sparked my interest was Brian Chard.
Brian obtained an Arts Degree in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia and now operates a design business in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This business provides clients with design and consulting services. In the early 1990′s Brian began using is computer knowledge to design for the web and since then has helps countless businesses in various i industries implement goals through design and the use of strategic web development.
What I found interesting about Brian was his journey becoming a designer. Brian spoke about how he has a passion for cycling and told us that told us that a lot of his initial jobs were from businesses within that industry who were seeking designers. I have observed that a lot of successful designers initially find job opportunities by connecting with people who have similar interests and passions. Many people tend keep their work and passion separate from one another but as a designer it seems to be the best way to gain opportunities that both improve your business and your own quality of life.
Brian sat confidently on the panel, his answers were very direct and helpful. He spoke minimally about his own success, he focused more of his energy on talking about the real issues that someone running their own business would face.
Another point that peaked everyones interest, including my own is when he spoke about qualifying the client. I this is something that not many people want to address but it actually very valuable when starting a new business. When you are running your own business you cannot waste time. It is important to connect and establish relationship with people through networking but when people seem interested seeking out design services you need to be able to assess whether or not they are serious about obtaining your services. There are many ways you can asses a client and figure out if their business will be something that is right for you but it is something each individual has to sort out for themselves. A general red flag when qualifying a client is any resistance to pay, or any real financial hesitation. Asking for a deposit upfront it a quick way to tell who is serious about hiring you for work and who is expressing empty interest.
I understand that businesses all have individual target audiences but I wasn’t considering myself a business until I heard Brian speak about himself. Ultimately if you design for everyone, then you design for no one. Not all clients are right for every business but developing good working relationships with the ones who are contribute greatly to the chances of you having a positive and successful business
The information Brian shared regarding his personal experiences as in entrepreneur were very insightful and I hope that he will attend future panels hosted by the St. Lawerence Graphic Design program.