Take care of your design business, and it will take care of you

I have fellow designers email me all the time with questions and concerns about how to run their design business. Whether they are graphic designers or web designers (or both) most problems seem to be pretty similar. They can’t find clients. They can’t keep the clients they manage to find. They don’t know how to get paid on time. And so on, and so on. You know the drill.

Chances are, you have had similar problems (or will experience them soon) as you try to build a successful design business. Today I would like to share with you something that will completely change the way you manage your design business. In turn, your design business will flourish and you will be successful.

Take care of your design business, and it will take care of you

The secret (and it’s not really that big of a secret in the world of entrepreneurship) is to make sure you take time to take care of your business. “But I am taking care of my business,” you might respond, “I work hard to find new clients, I treat my clients well, I even give my clients my mobile phone number so they can call me at 4 a.m. when their web site is down.”

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To that emphatic reply, I say, “You’re not really taking care of your business”.

You see, taking care of your business and taking care of your designs, clients, bills, etc. are not the same. You may care about whether you have the latest Creative Suite or Apple Computer, but your business doesn’t. You might think it’s important to be at your clients’ beck and call twenty-four-seven, but your business doesn’t. Your business wants some serious attention from You.

Give your design business the attention it desperately needs

So how can you give your business the attention it needs? For starters, sit down, think through, and write down the details of your business plan. Go the extra mile and write a business plan fit for a king. That means thinking through every detail regarding marketing, finances, planning, time management, project management, deadlines, client relationships, designer relationships, mentors, investors, 10 years down the road, etc. A one-page solution here is not the answer. Take a few days – weeks maybe – and create a business plan that will really make a difference in the way you do things.

Take care of your design business by creating a solid business plan today!

Have you ever heard the phrase “It takes money to make money”? While the internet is quickly changing this ideology, it still stands pretty true today. While it may not take millions of dollars from angel investors in order for you to get your design business off the ground, it will take time. Show your design business how much you care about it by dedicating some serious time and money to developing marketing plans, paying bills, and doing all the non-design tasks that are so important to your business’s health.

Take care of your business by investing time and money.

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I’ve had lots of one-man-show freelance designers ask me why they would need a marketing strategy. “After all” they say, “I can only handle a few clients at a time. Why would I try to solicit more clients than I can handle?” But how many times have you had to work on a design project for a client you can’t stand to work with just because you need the money? Imagine if you had a steady flow of excellent clients to choose from. You could choose which projects you want to work on and politely refuse the others. That’s what the ‘big boys’ do and, if you take time to work on a marketing strategy, you can do that too!

Take care of your business by working on a marketing strategy.

I could go on for days about other ways to take care of your design business. There are countless things you need to do to make sure you take time to build your business and not just your work load.

What else would you share?

But what else would you share when it comes to taking care of your design business? Have you had any positive or negative experiences regarding the business side of being a designer? Also include any questions you have about managing your design business. And, of course, I want to wish you a successful and happy New Year!

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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.


  1. Very good post and I am sure allot of designers out there do not take the time to give their business the attention it needs. You hit on many of the points that needed to be hit on and heard by people I am sure.

    It’s not enough to have the clients, equipment etc. Your business needs to be worked on at the same time to keep it functioning properly as well. Very informative post thanks for sharing.

    • @Eddie Garrison,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Eddie. Thanks for taking time to comment. I wish you the best of luck as you work to build your design business. What are you planning on doing differently in the new year to take care of your design business? Anything you’d like to share with the rest of us?


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