How to Get Your Design Studio Up and Running

Setting up your own design studio is one of the most exciting and exhilarating things you can do as a designer. It can also be a little overwhelming and confusing too however, so we are here today to create a tick sheet on how to set up your design studio so that you are up and running in no time at all.

Business Capital

Firstly, you’re going to need to look into a good, reputable business lending company that can help get your business off the ground financially and set you up with the funds that you need to get your business started and financed into the initial few months. With some business loan companies offering small business loans with business funding as low as 9.9% make sure you put in the research to find the best packages that fulfill the needs of your company.

Your Creative Team

Assuming that you are setting up your design studio with a background in design you are already bringing with you heaps of design experience and contacts within the world of design. You then will obviously want to create a team of fantastic designers. Creative individuals who add a diverse range of creative talents, style, and conceptual vision.

However as your background is most likely in design you will also want to ensure that you are creating a team that offers solid diversity for your business. So combining designers with more commercial staff who will be able to build your business and marketers who will be able to promote your business will ensure that you have a well rounded team that ticks all the right boxes for your business. Having a team of individuals with different backgrounds will also mean that you can bounce ideas around a team with multiple areas of expertise.

Those All-important Clients

The decision for you to bite the bullet and go it alone probably means that you are confident that you already have a few clients that you can take with you into your new company. A handful of clients is obviously a great start, but they are not going to pay the bills long term. Therefore the primary focus for your design studio is canvassing for new clients.

Begin by understanding what it is about your company that makes it special and makes it standout from the competition. Carve out a niche for yourself and then compile a list of potential clients that you feel your approach, values, and style will suit and serve well.

Build strong relationships by being transparent with your creative process so that there are no hiccups or no unmet expectations and disappointments along the way. Being clear about what you offer and what you can deliver is important in creating clear goals and aims for any projects you take on for new clients. Happy clients mean great word of mouth publicity, so being clear from the start will ensure your clients are satisfied with you and your new team and your company will subsequently grow.


So you now have your full time team in place, however you are still going to want to build up a network of outsourcers, collaborators, and specialists around you. Making sure you have people you can outsource work to means that no matter how much work you have coming through your studio you can always deliver and never have to risk clients going else where if your schedule is full.

Forming relationships with specialists in areas such as video animation or TV production advertising means that if you have a specific project that comes in that needs specialist knowledge in certain areas, you already have a trusted and reliable extended team that you can call upon.

Keep Updated

Now that you are setting up shop on your own there may be a few differences, to working for an employer, that you don’t immediately notice straight away. One of the biggest differences that can sneak up on you, can be the training and industry knowledge and research that is gathered and presented and offered to you on a regular basis when you work for a larger agency.

So as a business owner you now need to make research and training a priority for yourself and for your staff. Staying on top of market trends and business development in your industry means you stay on top of the game and are able to offer your clients a service that is fresh modern and forward thinking.

Similarly, investing in training for yourself and your staff will mean that your team are constantly evolving and are able to offer the most up-to-date and sought after software and design programmes and tools.

Buy The Latest Quick-read eBook for Budding Entrepreneurs

I just released my new eBook entitled A Bunch of Random Insight, Advice, and Inspiration: For Budding Entrepreneurs” on With 37 pages of content, my eBook costs around the price of your average mobile app. That’s value for money at only 2.99 USD. It doesn’t hurt too that it makes for a quick read. 

Here’s what you can expect to find:

After more than 12 years in the graphic design industry freelancing my way across some interesting projects, I have learned a lot of good and bad lessons. Within that time I have spent over the last three years blogging on freelancing, starting a business, running a business, getting paid, and avoiding “bad” clients.

Entrepreneurship can be a tough journey and some days are worse or better than others. For the bad days, I try to find inspiration and motivation to keep the dream alive.

Cover 04 copy

This edition will be focused on tips, advice, and lessons, in addition to uplifting words for budding entrepreneurs. The topics and content will be varied, but it is my hope that the take-away will help you to improve your own entrepreneurial pursuits. These include the following:

  • Scratch “Fake It” and Instead Chase It Until You Make It As Entrepreneurs
  • How to Quickly and Successfully Name Your New Startup
  • How to Get Your Winning Idea to the Finish Line
  • Why It’s Important to Be At Your Strongest
  • 12 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Richard Branson’s Autobiography, “Losing My Virginity”
  • 10 Ways for You to Approach a New Year of Business
  • There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Too Ambitious

I’d love to hear what you thought about it. I’ll be using your feedback to improve the next release. Buy it and enjoy it!

Available for Kindle and other devices (iPads, etc.):


How Do You Price Design Jobs for Non-profit Companies?

ImageI regularly share my design experience and advice with fellow freelancers and readers. Sometimes a specific question ends up being the inspiration for a future blog. This time around, the question was centered on pricing work for non-profits.

As a graphic designer, I’ve done my share of work for several non-profits and each time it’s a different experience.

There have been moments when I’ve worked for free, because I like the cause they were supporting. However, in the instance that I’ve charged for my work (and this might be relevant to you), it’s always important that you state the terms that you think are fair.

Now by that I mean it can involve just a monetary return or both a monetary return and bartering of something else such as media or press coverage. You also have to examine each non-profit as these days some have adopted the model of being a non-profit for profit in order to sustain itself instead of constantly asking for donations. In this instant they are often in a position to compensate you via a budget for let’s say marketing and promotion.

You have to decide what each project opportunity will do for your portfolio and for your reputation; and ask yourself “just how many additional projects could I get from this one opportunity?”. Avoid giving “discounts”, but state that there are charges you’re willing to do away with. You still need to keep the true value of the work you do and ideas are priceless.

At the end of the day, sometimes you have to give to get.

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Here’s a Quick Way to Name a Graphic Design Business or Any Other

The other day I responded to a question via LinkedIn on “What is a better strategy, using your name as a solitary (graphic) designer, or using a company name like (such and such designs) how does this impact on getting new clients?”

Here was my response written below:

Personally I think using either your name or using a graphic design company name works well. I suppose what you have to look at is where you want to take your company in the short, medium and long-term and make your choice based on your goals and aspirations. I think too that you can bring in your personality into your (graphic design) business name by using your name as the inspiration.

Read: 7 Valuable Tips to Perfectly Name Your New Startup

In my case, by using my initials ‘P.H.R.’ as the inspiration, I was able to create a name that said what my company did and what it was about, so in the end I came up with ‘phresh Ideas & Designs’. The first three letters in ‘phresh’ are my initials.


Though the response was to a graphic designer, the approach is still applicable in naming any startup or company. Good luck!

13 Small Business Lessons You Can Learn From


1980s to 1990s – Playing around 

For as long as I can remember, drawing, colouring and or painting was what always made me the happiest. I played with LEGO® a lot and I think everything contributed to my attraction to the world of art and design and eye for detail. I like the “big picture” of any great or good idea and I also like breaking things down to really understand it.

2000s – I discover graphic design software

In 2002 I accidentally stumbled across Corel Draw® and messed around with the software designing basic things and that became my first introduction to using actual graphic design software. One year later I saw a friend of mine using Adobe Photoshop® and I thought it was the coolest thing ever! Designing using layers to ultimately create a visual composite! Genius!

2010 – I start my own company

Ten years later I started my small design company with the goal of changing the world through design and living out my dreams. The biggest challenge was keeping the momentum while working in a full-time job and trying to ensure you manage to find a way to balance it all. Believe in yourself and people will believe in you. With that I got friends who became clients and clients who became friends. I’ve met a lot of people and it feels great when they validate your work with their excitement, satisfaction and gratitude.

2012 – Celebrating my company’s 2nd anniversary

I stuck with my four page business plan and it’s kept me on track when I was losing focus. I started logo designs and I think I’ve gotten much better at it. Always wanted to make my own t-shirt collection and I did that this year as well. All in all, I think I’ve achieved a lot.

I’ve learned a lot about starting and growing a small business and some of the most important lessons have been:

  1. Dream BIG!
  2. Believe in your ideas
  3. Be fearless and take the dive!
  4. Fail fast and fail cheap. Learn quickly!
  5. Network as much as you can
  6. Find mentors who will guide you
  7. Surround yourself with positive and productive people
  8. Ask for help if you need it
  9. Read! A LOT!
  10. Allow God to inspire you
  11. Work for free sometimes if it’s a noteworthy cause in your eyes
  12. Give advice for free all the time, unless you’re otherwise hired
  13. Constantly reinvest into your business


Well… I’ll keep you posted.