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Are you giving your design business the time it deserves?

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If you’re anything like me, you have a lot to do.

Running a design business isn’t easy and there are a million different pieces to your design business. It can be pretty common to let some less-important tasks fall through the cracks.

But you need to give your design business the time it deserves in order to keep growing. Today, I want to let you in on a few ways I manage to give my design business (and this design blog – which is part of my design business) the time they deserve.

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I’m going to list a few here and then I’d love to hear what you do to give your design business the time it deserves. I respond to most comments and I’d love to hear your feedback!

Here we go:

Set your priorities

First, it’s important to set your priorities. There are some tasks you absolutely must get done or your design business will die immediately.

Like paying the bills.

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If you don’t pay your electric bill, how do you plan to use your computer to run photoshop or dreamweaver? You can’t.

Conversely, there are other tasks that should get done but may not have as strict of deadlines.

Like organizing your desktop. Yeah, I know about your desktop. It’s crammed with all sorts of files, screenshots, Photoshop brushes, and free ebooks, right?

I know. You’ll get to it eventually. But first, pay your bills.

Stay on top of communication

One aspect that could make or break your design business is taking time to communicate with clients, potential clients, and business partners.

About 3 months ago, I hired a designer to help me with a project that I didn’t have time to complete myself. After hiring him, he started to take longer and longer in answering my emails.

Since I’m a designer, I understand how annoying clients can be when they call or email every day, so I let it go for a little while, but soon it was 3 days between emails, 5 days, a week before I heard back about the project’s progress.

Clients or business partners can’t live like that. You have to stay on top of your communication.

Set aside time each day (I do it at 8:00 am and 5:00pm) where you can answer emails and send the ones you need to send.

Not only will setting a schedule help you stay in contact with important people, but it will also help you be more productive during the day.

Take time to work on your business, not just your clients’ business

As a designer, you work hard every day to make sure your clients’ business looks great compared to the competition. But how often do you rejuvenate your own web site, branding, or business card?

Take time to work on your own business too.

I’ve heard of designers who dedicate every Wednesday or one hour each day to building, updating, and maintaining their brand.

Are you giving your design business’ brand the time it deserves?

Your turn to talk

I’ve talked long enough. Now it’s your turn. How do you make sure to give your design business the time it deserves? How do you set priorities, make sure you’re building your business, and avoid losing track of projects or communications with clients?

I would love to hear your suggestions, so leave a comment!

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

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  1. I can totally relate to this post! I know that I don’t give my design business the time it deserves. I work full time as a Marketing Coordinator for a newspaper. I have a small graphic design business. I mostly design in the evenings and on weekends when I’m not working my FT job. I always take care of clients first and foremost and my personal design stuff always takes a backseat to it. I’m also mom to four children to add to my chaos and prioritizing everything is a MUST even though I struggle with severe time management issues. I’m always juggling! I really need to sit down and schedule everything and stick to it. I’ve been trying to redesign my site for months and have gotten no further than the thought! Thanks for the great tips, can’t wait to put them in action!

  2. Hi, I totally can relate. I also feel that balancing “our design life” can be more than a 8:00-5:00 gig.

    As a tip. I enjoy my peace and quiet to organize and focus on the next few days earlier than 8:00 am. Yes, it’s not for everyone but having an hour or two to yourself with no emails and calls, you get lots more done and quicker. It’s all flexible and not a need to be done everyday.

    p.s. I hope the designer you hired turned out to provide at least a good project. LOL

    • @Guylaine,
      Some great advice. That’s also one of my favorite times of the day. It seems like half the world isn’t awake or moving yet at that hour so it’s really easy to get a lot done before the world wakes up.

      What kind of tasks do you try to get out of the way in the early hours of the day? What just starts your day off right for you?

  3. I think answering emails in a timely fashion is key, especially in winning new business. Getting in touch quickly sends out a number of positive messages: I am excited about this project; I am efficient at communicating; my work for you is as important to me as it is to you.

  4. @ Preston. Yes the mornings are like a quiet bubble. A small run will totally put a spin on my mornings. Then I hit emails, invoicing, planning, etc. I’m best also to solve design issues from the day before as one get a fresher perspective.

    I think the trick is to find your way whether your a night or a morning person while taking care of the days business.

    Good luck to all!


  5. How do you know about my desktop!? I have 216 screen grabs on there, I am ashamed. Great article thanks as always. I went to a networking event this morning and the topic was “what are you focusing on for your business?”. My thoughts were exactly as above, I spend so much time on other people’s brand and neglect my own, so there is my focus. Its hard to dedicate the time though and I think there is no other way but to schedule it in to your diary. Someone this morning also suggested mentoring, finding someone who you can bounce some ideas off and vice-versa, tell them what you need to get done and the deadline and then you will be more likely do it!

  6. Thanks for these tips. For me, it’s finding the time to update my website, resume, and portfolio.

    Client time is usually not a problem, because that is how I pay the bills. But then again, I’m terrible at billing…

    Go figure!

  7. Excellent ideas and options…I’m still in the stage of not being sure what I want to present to the world, so that’s the forefront of my personal business work.

    My additions:

    Stay organized, and invest time in your organization. Know which dates are deadlines for which projects. Keep your files for each project together and organized (do you really want to spend 3 hours determining which _FINAL version of a project from a year ago is the real final?). Save vector images that you might reuse/adapt for future projects. Make sure you are backing up your files/hard drives. Clean – it’s refreshing afterwards.

    UPDATE YOUR PORTFOLIO! Update your resume. It’s so much easier to remember the details and particularly difficult challenges of a project the weekend after finishing it rather than 6 months later.

  8. So often many of us spend so much time doing our client’s business that we simply let ours slip right under our noses. We may have up to date projects, but does our website reflect the same thing? Balancing the both workloads isn’t easy, especially when deadlines are near…and they always are, but I agree with the article that we all should spend some time, solid set aside time, just to work out our strategies and future opportunities to eventually grow our companies.

  9. Great post – I can relate to every single point! I’m actually taking a some time out this week to work on my business as things like website updates are long overdue. I think I’ll take your advice and do it more regularly from now on, then it won’t seem such a big job!


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