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Administering the Business

As creative and imaginative and right-brained as design is, your success will depend on some very left-brained behaviors. You might as well face it, even embrace it.

Discipline—being on time, doing what you promise, being in control.

Process—taking planned steps that give you and your client dependability and structure.

Detail—being as attentive to the details of your business as you would to the details of design. Your client wants to be assured that you are "on top of the project."

The most profitable design practice (not necessarily the largest, by the way) is the one with the best process. Process is nothing more—and nothing less—than how you create value for your clients. Therefore, administering a business should create value for your clients, and as a result create rewards for you.

Processes such as those listed below will enable you to deliver excellent design services and value to your clients:

  • document management and flow (details, details, details)
  • accounts payable/accounts receivable (money in: money out)
  • purchasing and inventory (more details)
  • technology support (computers, peripherals and software)
  • accounting, taxes & cash management (best left to the experts)

While you will want to make selections for managing these support processes based on your specific circumstances, your basic choices will pivot around how much you do yourself, how much you invest in software to support your efforts (QuickBooks, Design Manager, Studio IT, etc.), and how much you prefer to outsource to others (office managers or assistants, accountants or book keepers, etc.).

One thing is clear: These supporting processes make an important impact on your clients. They may be less direct than the project processes for delivering your design services, but they indirectly affect your success, your profitability, your other priorities in life, and the image of your brand.

Choose wisely. But you are not alone. Business consultants, coaches and peer networks are rich sources of knowledge and experience to help you find what's best for you and your business.

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