July 25, 2014
Posted By: Sheri

DSC_5248-copy2When Marc and I first started MSLK back in 1998, I was armed and ready with lots of training as graphic designer. However, like almost every other design business owner before me, I’d never received any training on how to run a business, much less a graphic design business, which has its own unique challenges.

My formal training had shown me how to translate the spoken and unspoken needs of a business into compelling visuals. I could simplify messaging, choose the right typeface, colors, and imagery, but I barely knew how to guide a client through that process. After all, I wasn’t pulling a prefabricated design off the shelf, but rather creating something unique for each client and starting from scratch each time.

So that’s how I sold creative. We are going to create something unique and custom-tailored just for you. It will never have been done before because it’s just for you. Then I’d show them all the beautiful visuals in my portfolio of lovely artifacts I had created for other clients. If I was lucky there was a solution in there that was similar to a challenge the prospective client was experiencing. Then I could talk about that similarity; but mostly what I was selling was style alone. I was also inadvertently selling risk. Take a chance with us because we are so innovative and creative we don’t have a set process.

It was around this time that some colleagues, Marc, and I started the group Spark. Spark is a group of design business owners who get together each month to talk about the issues relevant to running a design firm. Instantly, I saw a few themes emerge:
1. Every design business owner felt exactly the same as we did, and were experiencing the same challenges.
2. All of them were trained as graphic design practitioners with little to no experience running a business.
3. Each designer was inventing his or her own solutions, akin to silently working on reinventing the wheel without even knowing that a wheel exists.
4. Everyone was lonely and sought more camaraderie and support. Read more

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