There’s a lot I wish I’d known when I was approaching the end of my graphic design degree.
What makes you employable? How do you find your dream job? What skills are you missing? And how do you learn how to deal with clients?
These questions aren’t just about entering the world of work or starting a business. They’re relevant to anyone wondering what the future might hold. Because the mindset you need to start a creative business is the same for any challenge in the design industry.
Of course, there’s more to cover than could fit into one article, but let’s make a start here. For me, the key steps are these: prepare yourself, start small and embrace change.
Step 1: Prepare yourself
(You don’t know everything yet)
If you’re keen to start your own studio, my first piece of advice is don’t do it — yet. First, benefit from people who’ve done it before you. Find out about their successes. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Read blogs, track down books like Adrian Shaughnessy’s excellent How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul and speak to as many people as you can within the industry.
Although it can feel intimidating, you’ll find people open up if you ask the right questions and you’re polite. In fact, ‘ask the right questions’, is pretty much universal advice for anything you need to achieve that involves other people.
Get a job
I firmly believe there’s no such thing as a bad first job. The experience you gain from being around other professionals and from taking pride in performing a role will always be valuable. Not to mention having that first employment record on the CV.
When you’ve got that job, make yourself indispensable and find ways to add value. This is what entrepreneurial thinking is about — understanding every business needs to grow, and seeing how you can help. It’s not just about running your own thing, but thinking about how to improve processes, add services and find new areas of revenue, wherever you’re working. People who do that get noticed.