If you are a small business owner, creative entrepreneur, maker or craftsman and you are looking to take your business to the next level without having to hire a big agency, then this post is for you.
There are some amazing things you can expect when working with a small studio and that maybe you didn’t know about.
Before we dive into the 10 pros of working with a small design studio I want to talk about the three most common concerns that come up before hiring a designer.
If you find a designer that you connect with, whose style you love and expertise you trust, then that is the most important sign that you will be a great fit for each other. But we all know that one person can only do so much and you might be wondering, if your project is out of scope for that one designer or small team. This is a matter of accountability – to keep it short and simple – here is my advice: Let the designer decide if a project is too big or too small.
I am very considerate about what projects I take on and who I work with and one important deciding factor is the size of a project. I am sure that most designers are very thoughtful when they start new projects, because no one wants to work on a project that is too much to handle or that sounds like working long nights. As soon as you hear a ‘Yes’ from your designer you can stop worrying.
I have had a lot of clients worrying that my small studio won’t have the necessary capabilities to complete their project which is why they considered working with a larger agency instead. But here is the thing: An agency usually has dedicated people for each area of a project and… so do I, and most probably all other single-designers.
Over the years I have met and worked with experts from various fields and have built an amazing network of other designers, illustrators, copywriters, photographers, printers and marketing experts. A great designer will happily collaborate with external experts to add more value and efficiency to the work and to ensure delivering the best possible results for you.
This concern should not hold you back to contact a designer. It’s the opposite – this might be the best time to contact a designer. You will get valuable help elevating your business and bringing your ideas to life. A great designer is not someone who creates a logo for you, simply because you think you are ready for one now. A great designer will ask many questions, will be strategic, consult and create – with your goals in mind. There is no ‘too early’ or ‘too unprofessional’ to hire a designer. Ever.
You and your designer should be able to talk honestly about any concerns that come up and find the right solutions together. If you feel like you can’t talk to your designer openly, I’d recommend you look for someone else. Trust makes working together so much easier and is fundamental for a great experience and amazing results.
This means that building a close connection and trust will feel very natural and easy. There won’t be frustrating phone calls where you need to repeat yourself because someone is on vacation until next Wednesday. The relationships I was able to build with my clients have quickly become friendly and relaxed because we got to work so closely with each other. And I believe that those true connections are essential when creating work that is meant to connect with humans and have an impact.
A designer who is working on every single step of the project will become so much more familiar with your business, your visions and goals. The project will greatly benefit and the result most probably be more on-target if strategy and design come from the same person. You’ll be drawn to a designer whose values align with your own ones so that communication and working together feels right and easy.
You are dealing with your designer throughout the whole process which is a huge benefit. When you can talk to your designer directly and openly about every aspect of the project there will be no room for misunderstandings, wrong interpretations or information getting lost. It saves communication loops and therefore time and money! Amazing, right? And as a result of all the above: Your designer will manage and guide you through the whole process. This ensures transparency and efficiency all the way through to finish line.
And you are drawn to that style, aren’t you? This designer’s secret sauce will rub off onto the work that is done for you and will help you stand out and set you apart from the competition. Most small design studios also do have a niche and are serious experts in their field.
Designers who work or run a small studio have versatile job roles – from accounting to designing – and this sure has a positive effect on the creative process too. Designing is not something the designer starts to work on after ‘someone’ handed over the brief, but it evolves from the moment you reach out to your designer. The creative process goes hand in hand with your first meetings, with working on the strategy, doing research and all those other important parts of the design process.
This is my personal experience and all the designers I talked to about this feel the same way. When I work for my own clients I feel so much more responsible for the project. Why? There are several reasons. I can’t hide behind anyone and it all comes down to me. Automatically, there is more heart in it and I can take more pride and meaning in it! And adding to that: I feel more creative and brave to try new things which increased the value of my work. Another big difference is that I actively choose the projects I am going to work on rather than being assigned to projects and again: Automatically, I feel more connected to the project.
I believe that small teams of dedicated designers or even just one dedicated designer can work as smart – if not smarter – and as efficient as a large team of designers that might be a little bit less committed. Over the years I have noticed that I find more clarity without another 20 voices commenting on my concepts. In German we have a saying: ‘Zu viele Köche verderben den Brei’. That basically means that too many chefs spoil a dish and I believe that this can apply to design. Feedback is valuable and often very helpful but too much of it can cause confusion or get in the way of creating great work also.
I only take on a maximum of 2 projects at a time to ensure that I can put my entire focus towards those projects. This guarantees a smooth process and is fundamental for me to do my best job possible. I am sure most single designers handle it that way because we are very aware of how draining it can feel to work on too many projects and to be creative under pressure. You are not just one of many clients to your designer!
There are many factors that motivate the designer to do the best work possible for every single project and client. The most important motivational factor for me is having happy clients who happily recommend me to other potential clients or who might book follow-up projects. Another motivation for creating amazing work is the desire to update and add to the portfolio – especially to attract more dream clients that way. Your designer will also push towards efficiency to prevent burn-out or creative blocks and that’s something the whole process benefits from.
When investing in design the focus should really be on the value and the results it brings, not on the price. But especially for small business owners, makers and entrepreneurs who are starting out it might be more affordable to work with a small design studio. An agency naturally has bigger overheads that need covering and is therefore likely to charge premium.
If there is still something that stops you from reaching out to a designer I would love to read from you.
Until next time,
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