Designers: Expand Your Knowledge Beyond Design – Here’s Why

The Business of Design: How to Build a Successful Career as a Designer

May 24, 2023

I’m Nelett.
The Designer of the Graphic Designers' Playbook. I help heart-led clients and designers show up with style and grace: a total Magazine, pizza and water addict. I am always striving for wholesome, mindful and soul-led living. 
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As a designer, our primary focus is creating beautiful and practical designs. However, to be successful as freelancers or in-house designers, it’s essential to understand business basics. By learning business fundamentals, you can make better decisions, communicate more effectively with clients and colleagues, and position yourself as a valuable partner in achieving business goals.

Here are some of the key reasons why every designer should take the time to learn the basics of business:

  1. Make Better Decisions: By understanding business concepts like revenue, expenses, and profit, you can make more informed decisions about your pricing, project budgets, and financial goals. This knowledge can help you avoid common business pitfalls and make smart investments in your career.
  2. Communicate Effectively: As a designer, you often work with clients or colleagues who do not have the design knowledge you have; however, by learning the language of business, you can communicate your ideas more effectively and make sure everyone is on the same page. Additionally, understanding business terminology can help you build stronger relationships with clients and colleagues by showing that you understand their priorities and concerns.
  3. Position Yourself as a Valuable Partner: When you understand business, you can be a valuable partner in achieving business goals. By understanding marketing and branding principles, for example, you can help clients achieve their business objectives through effective design. This can lead to more meaningful client relationships and tremendous respect within the business community.
  4. Build a Sustainable Career: Finally, you can build a sustainable career as a designer by understanding business. By managing your finances effectively, you can weather slow periods or unexpected expenses. By understanding project management principles, you can deliver high-quality work on time and within budget, leading to repeat business and referrals.

Every designer should take the time to learn the basics of business. Doing so allows you to make better decisions, communicate more effectively, position yourself as a valuable partner, and build a sustainable career. While learning these concepts may take time, the investment is worth it. By combining your design skills with business knowledge, you can achieve more tremendous success in your career and make a real impact on your clients’ businesses.

Adding the skill of understanding business to your design career, whether as a freelancer or an in-house designer, gives you the power and confidence to share and trust your ideas.

It is a beautiful skill that makes you a timeless designer.

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