Chair's Message - August 2018

The Business of Design

Reflecting back on my first job in design following four years at The University of Maryland, I was driven by passion. Passion to find a job and passion to do a great job, and of course, to learn all that I could. The love of finding creative solutions to positively impact people’s lives was present and real every time I picked up a pencil. Yes, back in those days we still used pencil and paper! Today, I still have that feeling with the start of every new project – despite the role shifts throughout my career.

Starting out as a young designer, I could not have imagined that one day I would own my own design firm. I was focused solely on design, not business. But soon, through various jobs and opportunities, I discovered I was developing a passion equal to my passion for design – that of running a business. Eventually I started my first design business with a friend and design colleague. We were young, we were talented, and yes, we had no idea how to run a business! However, I was lucky to have great mentors and colleagues who helped along the way, and through ASID and my connections, I learned the business side of design. Cash flow, state and federal taxes, hiring staff, business development, marketing, and so much more are part of building a successful design firm. Talk about wearing many hats in one day! It never stops.

Of course, the one organization that has been there for me and has helped build my business acumen is ASID. There are many reasons I’ve remained a proud ASID member since I was a student, but one of the most important reasons are the business tools ASID makes available to its members. Recently, ASID introduced a new version of the its Residential Contracts Package that helps firm owners craft comprehensive, customizable contracts that will keep us protected. And just this week, the ASID Commercial Contracts Package was introduced! Conveniently available as one streamlined package, the contracts are comprehensive, easy to understand and use, flexible, customizable, and cover key decision points and more. I urge you to protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build through these invaluable contract tools.

Here are just a few of the ASID business solutions that are imperative for any business owner.

Thirty plus years into my career I still love to pick up a pencil. But, the added responsibility of being a business leader has expanded my passions. And today, after owning three different design firms, I get as much joy from sharing my experiences and mentoring a new employee as I do from drawing. I am as proud to be a designer as I am proud to be a business owner.

While many things in business have changed, many things have remained the same. Work is work, design is design, and business is business! Yes, the butterflies can still creep in before a client presentation, yes you still have to be profitable as a designer to earn a living, and YES, the feeling of pride that comes from seeing a finished project is always worth the effort – that I hope will never leave.

Thank you all,

Tim Schelfe, FASID, CAPS