10 Ways to Grow Your Design Firm

Advice from Bill and Wilson, Founders of Go Media

There is no perfect recipe for growing a thriving design firm. But through our share of failures, we have learned what works more often than not. Here are some lessons we have learned since Go Media’s inception in 1997.

1.Don’t quit your day job.

    Keep it for a reliable source of revenue in the early days. Use this to set up your home office, portfolio, business structure, books, your company website, and marketing materials. Then, when you need extra hours for sleep, then you can quit that day job and take on your design work full time.

“I worked a lot of what I refer to as “survival jobs” on my road to freelancing. For two summers I was a Basement Waterproofing Technician. By “technician”, I guess they meant “do you know which way to point a shovel”? We’d start our days at 5am and dig houses down to the footer. The days were long and grueling, often into the night. It was common to only work on design over the weekend. I began to seek jobs that would allow me more flexibility. I signed up for temp work through a staffing agency. I soon learned “temp work” was abundant because it was often shit nobody else wanted to do. I’ll never forget power-washing industrial oil tanks from the inside wearing a yellow rubber suit and having to wipe my goggles every minute as oily water would laminate them. Temp work turned out to be a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of so many industries in Northeast Ohio, ala “Dirty Jobs”. It also allowed me to set my own schedule and decline jobs when I was busy designing.” – Wilson

2.Build a passionate team.

    You need to make sure you’re finding and hiring the very best employees. If you’ve got some bad energy, get rid of it.

“What’s the old saying? “Fire fast and hire slow”. I would start with that. I used to hang onto bad employees way too long. These days I can see more clearly when someone isn’t a fit and I’m quick with the trigger to get them out of my company.  As for the hiring slowly part… I actually have another saying that fits with my current hiring methodology: “Try before you buy”.  These days I hire interns almost exclusively. There is nothing quite like having a potential employee working in-house for three months to get a real sense of who they are. Interviews are fine… but let me watch you working. Let me get to know your personality.” – Bill

Go Media team 2009
Go Media team 2009

3. Track your metrics!

    Consider what the key measurable components of your business are and start tracking those metrics on a spreadsheet on a regular basis.

“I’ve learned how important metrics really are. You must have data to understand what’s happening with your business. Once you have data to show you the reality of your business (not just the feeling of what you THINK is happening) you will realize immediately how you need to fix your business. Metrics are at the core of our business. Give me stats and I will better understand what’s working and what’s not. Whenever we have some new activity I immediately ask myself: “how can I track this.” I’ll give you a few examples of metrics we track on a monthly basis: per-employee-profitability, per-project-profitability, employee billable %, # Sales leads, Sales close %, Site visitors, Hours networking. In total we probably have about 50 metrics for our company.” – Bill

“SYSTEMS are so important! You must stay organized. Fortunately, since those days, the advent of SaaS (software as a service) AKA Web Apps came into being. FreshBooks, Quickbooks Online, Basecamp, Podio, Trello, Salesforce, you name it – even Google Apps for Business can be transformational. There are so many web apps you can leverage to keep your business information in order. Use them.” – Wilson

4. Decide on your own unique self promotion strategy and stick to it.

    Get away from your desk! Knock on doors, host events, network, find a marketing vehicle, be creative.

“Rave flyers were something that really worked for us. The rave scene was a very reciprocity minded culture, a lot like the hippie festivals of Jerry Garcia days. It was a great big colorful family, it was all love and everyone knew each other. It was full of counterculture people and they celebrated zany creativity. Bill’s an immensely talented illustrator. I did some wild stuff in 3D and prided myself in typography and type treatments. We were able to tag our designs with a logo and contact info reaching out to anyone who might also need a flyer. A typical show might have anywhere from 5,000 to 100,000 flyers printed. That’s a lot of exposure! Our flyers were zany, but conceptualized well enough (before we really understood advertising), to spread allover the place. We had stark raving fans! We soon were being hired to design flyers for ravers in California, Texas, New York, PA, Florida and Canada. There also happened to be civilized business owners among the glow-sticks and baggy pants who hired us for whatever they had going on.” – Wilson

1

5. Build a strong sales team.

    If you can’t do that yet, set aside an allocation of time and resources for proactive sales. Have a measurable, repeatable sales process that runs regardless of how busy you get because the last thing you want is the feast or famine lifestyle of the designer who only sells when she’s not designing!

“When the phone would ring, that was our reason to celebrate. An opportunity might be on the other end. Sometimes those calls would carry on for an hour and they might happen several times a day. It’s hard to get paid for the time you spend selling, we had to produce. So we’d count our blessings and catch up on the time spent not producing by working late to stay on track. We’d work until 2 am if we had to.” – Wilson

6. Say goodbye to busters.

    Keep an eye out for red flags and understand that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“In my early years when we were more desperate for cash, I would let a jerk of a customer push me around. This would result in many wasted hours, feeling stressed and feeling mad. These days we have a no-jerk policy. If a customer is mean, insulting, demeaning or extremely annoying to work with – we don’t. We ‘fire’ them. Fortunately, we’ve gotten very good at recognizing this in advance so we usually avoid these individuals before a project even begins. But on the rare occasion that we need to sever a relationship – we do it quickly and as nicely as possible. Life is too precious to spend it dealing with jerks. And the life energy a jerk will sap from your soul is better spent finding your next client.” – Bill

7. Be frugal.

    The one thing that can put you out of business is running out of money! Protect it carefully!

“Watch your money. Be frugal!  Don’t rack up a bunch of debt. Keep your business as lean as possible and prove that you can SELL before you go buying fancy equipment and moving into a fancy office.” – Bill

IMG_3965

8. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

    Bounce back from mistakes and don’t be afraid to take risks. Each challenge is an opportunity for growth.

“As for an early mistake of ours, it didn’t take long to learn the hard way that some people will hustle ya or some people just don’t have the means to pay for what they want when you need paid. We adopted a policy of 50% down for projects under $2K and 25% increments above that total. Collect printing costs in advance because there’s no un-printing those sheets of paper.” – Wilson

9. Don’t go it alone.

    Having a partner is a great way to grow your company. Find someone who demonstrates equal responsibility and motivation, as well as a complimentary skill set.

“The year Bill Beachy reached out to merge our freelance studios, he was working at Starbucks and I was working for a civil engineering company. I moved into his apartment to cut expenses and work from one place. Combining efforts was a turning point to where we are today. We still had to strap ourselves onto a roller coaster to make it. Maybe that’s the lesson of the story, find someone else crazy enough to try and launch a business with you. It took a lot of supporting each other to get through the famine, feast, famine of starting this thing.” – Wilson

1

10. Enjoy the ride!

    Celebrate every success and consider every misstep a valuable lesson learned.

“Having fun is important when times get tough. The best way to have fun is to stop and simply focus on the task you are doing now! For a moment, don’t worry about the future or the past. Let yourself enjoy all the aspects and challenges of running your own firm. Slow down and breathe and fall in love again with the day-to-day work. Don’t treat it like a means to an end, but enjoy the process itself.” – Bill

For more ways to grow your design firm and the tools to do so, pick up Bill’s book, Drawn to Business, the ultimate guide to growing a thriving design firm.

Business Plan Workbook Questions for Design Entrepreneurs

13 Foundational Questions to Ask Yourself When Starting A Design Business

Business Plan Workbook Questions for Design Entrepreneurs

Starting your own design firm? Our fearless leader, William Beachy, has created the e-book, Drawn to Business, and accompanying business plan workbook, to guide you through the highs and lows of this exciting time in your life.

Design FASTER: Seven tips to becoming a faster, more efficient graphic designer

How to Become a Faster Graphic Designer

I wanted to talk about a subject that is very important to being a successful designer – speed. I’m talking about how fast you can produce designs for your client, boss or even just for yourself.

Just why is it important to learn how to become a faster graphic Designer? And why does speed matter? Time is money. It’s a simple fact. Your boss or your client needs a result – a design. It’s your product. And if you can produce that design faster, it saves your boss and/or your client money. If you can be a faster designer, you’re going to be a more valued employee. And trust me, every boss and every client out there KNOWS who their fast designers are and who their slow designers are. I want to say that again because it’s important: YOUR BOSS KNOWS IF YOU’RE A FAST OR SLOW designer. And guess what – they love their fast designers and are frustrated with their slow designers.

If we compare designers creating designs to workers assembling widgets, if one worker can assemble two widgets in and hour, and another can assemble ten widgets in an hour, the one who produces more is more valuable to the company right? Of course. Now, imagine it’s the end of the year and the boss needs to decide who to give a raise to, and who to fire – do you think speed is a component of their decisions? It sure as shit is.

If you have any lingering doubts about how important speed is – just go work for yourself. A focal point of every sales conversation you have with potential clients is budget. And what does a budget mean? Money. And what does money mean? Time. Similarly, if you charge $500 to design a logo and you can design one a day – great, that’s $500. But design 10 logos a day and you’ll earn $5,000. Is the difference speed can make clear?

InternalImage1

I think sometimes this can get a little muddy to a designer who is collecting a fixed salary. After all, the designer gets paid the same each payroll whether they produce a lot or a little. But guess what – it does make a difference to the owner of the company. If the company produces more and earns more – the owner gets to pay themselves and their staff more. Or, as is sometimes the case at our Cleveland Design Firm Go Media, if the designers don’t produce enough, the owners (that’s me) LOSE money. So trust me, while you may not be feeling the effects of working slow or fast, you will – eventually you will.

Is this clear? Work faster, make more money. Be more valuable, get raises and keep your job! Speed matters.

But what about design quality? I know what you’re thinking: “But Bill, what about Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y? Quality takes time, and don’t clients want quality?” Yes. Absolutely. Quality is also important. And yes, if you gave a designer two different time budgets, the design done with the longer time budget would most likely be of higher quality. The optimal designer is BOTH fast AND good. You should be working towards both. But remember that you’re not competing against yourself. In the grand pool of designer employees out there, you’re competing against other designers. And guess what – some are faster AND better than you. SO, if you’re going to be a valuable designer, you need to work on both.

For the sake of this article, I am going focus on the subject of speed.

So… how to become a faster graphic designer?

1. Know the difference between being an ‘artist’ and being a ‘commercial artist.” Look, I know that many of you take great pleasure in being ‘artists.’ I understand that your ‘happy place’ may be doing tons of research, then exploring many directions, and taking your time to create something amazing. That’s fine. That’s you approaching your work in a way that is most fulfilling to you. I do this too. When I’m drawing, I need long hours to create something great and I’m not satisfied when I make something that I think sucks. It’s ok for you to be an ‘artist’ and to work in this way. Just understand that your 9-5 job as a paid graphic designer is not your ‘art.’ You’re a professional worker with a skill that charges a certain amount per hour, and that your client has a budget! Getting the job done in a way that is efficient, and getting the job done in a way that is fulfilling may be two different things.

InternalImage2a

If you can find clients that don’t care how long it takes you and are willing to pay you to spend as much time as you want on your designs, well, congratulations to you. I hope you appreciate what a gift you’ve been given. In my experience, clients are hyper aware of their budgets and generally want everything as cheaply as possible. Design is a job. Sorry, this isn’t your free time. This isn’t your ‘art.’ You’re working. And sometimes (for most people all the time) work sucks. Designers need to remind themselves of this now and then. If you can recognize that your time ‘on the clock’ is work, and that you’re a professional doing a job and that it’s fundamentally different than your ‘art’, it’s an important shift in your perspective that you need to adopt. ‘Cranking out a design’ may not be fun because you’re being rushed, but that’s the job.

2. Design in your head first. As a salesperson for Go Media I am afforded a long ramp up phase prior to starting a design project. As part of the sales process, I typically have several meetings with clients, ask lots of questions about their business history, goals and ideas. It may take several weeks from the time I first meet a client until the time I sit down to design. Frequently, by the time I sit down to design – I already know exactly what I’m going to make. The image is clear in my mind. At that point all I need to do is assemble it. It’s more production than ideation. Having a clear vision of my design before I even start designing certainly makes me a much faster designer. How is it that I know exactly what I’m going to design? Obviously, because I’ve been thinking about it during the entire sales process.

While most designers aren’t out selling, they can also employ this technique – start thinking about your designs BEFORE you sit down to your computer. If you can get an early look at creative briefs on projects that are coming up READ THEM! Wrap your head around all the details of the project days or weeks in advance. Ideally, you will then use your down time to think about them. Start the design in your head. This may require a conscious effort on your part! That’s right – you may have to WORK. But hopefully, you love this shit, and it doesn’t feel like work. You naturally think about the design in advance because it makes you happy.

InternalImage3

But here’s the good thing – even if you can’t find spare time after hours to think about your designs in advance, I believe that it helps anyway. The human brain is a mysterious and powerful thing. Your brain will be solving your design problems whether you realize it or not. Some subliminal consciousness is functioning, thinking, processing… …designing! It happens while you’re eating lunch, while you’re having drinks with friends, even while you’re sleeping. But the brain can’t solve problems while you sleep if it doesn’t even know the problem exists. So, step one is to start learning about your graphic design projects in advance – then make an effort to think about them during off hours.

3. Guard your time. In today’s day and age, there are a thousand distractions to steal your time. You’ve got a constant stream of emails, text messages, Facebook Updates, phone calls, co-workers coming up to chat with you, meetings, lunch breaks, and on and on. Fast designers learn how to protect their time. When was the last time you told a coworker: “Sorry, I don’t have time to chat right now. I have to get this project done.” If you can’t remember, you’re probably doing a bad job protecting your time. Turn off your e-mail. Turn off your phone. Pack your lunch instead of going out for lunch. Don’t check your social media feed. In my experience I can almost see the fast workers – their heads are down, I can see the look of concentration on their faces. I don’t see them in the kitchen chatting with fellow employees – they’re quiet, they’re focused.

There are tons of techniques out there to help you protect your time. Recently I’ve decided that I need to have ‘production days.’ On my ‘production days’ I’ve given myself a license to ignore my emails all day long. 99% of my emails can wait a day. If there is a real emergency someone will call me. The techniques are secondary. The important part is that you need to recognize that your time is wasting – every day. Sometimes other people are wasting your time, but more likely, you’re wasting time yourself. If you want to get more done each day, you’re going to have to make an effort to stop it.

And let me tell you – your boss will appreciate it! If I imagine that I was in a meeting with several staff members and one of them stood up and said to me: “Please excuse me Bill. I just realized that I have nothing to contribute to this meeting. I’m wasting my time. I would like to get back to my desk so I can get my design project done.” Can you imagine how I would react? I’d give that employee a gold star, smiley face and an A+. My perception of that employee would be forever altered. “Wow. Bob is SERIOUS about being productive. He’s a worker! I LOVE BOB!”

4. Consider your time budget before you start. Take a moment before you start any design project and familiarize yourself with your time budget. By stopping to consider how much time you have on a project, it will influence how you approach the project. You may have thoughts like: “Gosh, I would have really loved to design icons from scratch for this poster, but I can buy stock icons and save myself three hours. It’s not ideal, but it will get the job done faster!” And you can actually download stock icons and vectors from Go Media’s Arsenal.

InternalImage4a

5. Set a time budget. Don’t have a specific time budget? Make one. Challenge yourself with a goal. You might have a thought like: “Normally, it takes me three days to design a poster like this, but I’m going to only give myself one day!” I used to actually ‘speed design.’ I would create a race for myself. I’d set up a stopwatch on my desk, give myself an unreasonably short amount of time to get something done – like one hour, and I’d see how far I could get. There is a side benefit to this game – I frequently found that I designed BETTER! By forcing myself to work fast, I turned my brain off. I designed on instinct. I didn’t over think or over complicate things. I just went straight to the solution. And often in design, the simplest most obvious solution is also the best.

6. Know when ‘good enough’ is the right approach. Look, nobody likes to create mediocre designs. We all want to design stuff that’s so amazingly good that we become rich, famous and change the world. But sometimes ‘Great’ is less important than ‘fast’ (on budget). We have a saying at Go Media that I stole from a Labatt Blue commercial: “Crose Enough!” (Close enough.) In essence, everything isn’t going to be perfect. Sometimes ‘close enough’ (a mediocre design) is good enough.

7. Recognize when you’re ‘tinkering.’ This item is closely related to the previous point. I’ve known many designers that kill their time budgets because they ‘tinker.’ They’ll actually work at a nice speed, get the design 95% done, then spend just as much time getting the last 5% done as they did getting the first part done. There is often a perfectionistic streak in them that forces them to fiddle with their designs for hours – trying to make them more perfect. They nudge some copy to the right an eighth of an inch, they increase the contrast of their images by 3%, they adjust the kerning of every single word on the page, etc. Learn to recognize when you’re doing this – making relatively small changes to something that’s basically done. Stop. Let it go. You have other projects to work on!

Now, take a deep breath and get back to work (quickly now!) We know you have it in you.

gmz-ad

Logo Design vs. Branding – what’s the difference?

The Wait is over! This is Dirty: From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial is Here!

From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial

The wait is finally over.

The long awaited, highly anticipated video tutorial by Cleveland brand design services guru & Go Media President William Beachy, is finally here. Based on his wildly popular blog post, From Sketch to Vector Illustration, “This is Dirty: From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial,” is an intimate look into Bill’s design process.

{Whoops! Somehow missed the popular “From Sketch to Vector Illustration post? Check it out here.}

“This is Dirty,” is a compilation of all Bill has learned over twenty years as an illustrator, designer and entrepreneur.

I want it now.

You’ll spend an intimate 1 hour, 11 minutes with Bill, pouring over an illustration he has created specifically for this tutorial. Bill gives you a raw, rare look into his process from start to finish. Giving away all of his secrets, tips, tricks and talents, Bill shares the resources you’ll need to follow along and includes the following recommendations/information:

Supplies
The Staedler Mars mechanical pencil and sharpener
Eraser of choice
The pros and cons of hard vs. soft lead
Preferred paper type

Drawing (Pencil Sketch)
Getting into the right head-space
Getting your arm loose
Why starting with rough sketches is so important
Getting started
Having proper expectations of yourself
Being flexible while drawing
Drawing using basic geometrical shapes
Drawing the human face
Developing a series of cheats to draw
Shading – how much black vs. white
Using reference materials

Scanning
Equipment specifications
Scanning specifications

(Vector) Inking
Equipment and software specifications
Dell(PC) vs. Apple
Mouse vs. Wacom
Nodes and bezier lines
Setting up your layers
Setting up gradients and picking colors
Inking options
Creating shapes in Illustrator
Cross hatching

Coloring
Photoshop vs. Illustrator
Setting up your layers
Process strategy
Highlights and secondary light source
Adding Shadows
Adding a texture

What you receive with the download:

  • Extended Tutorial (MP4 Video)
  • Blue Concrete Square texture (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration (pencil art)
  • This is Dirty Illustration Version 1 (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration Version 2 (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration – Final (AI File)

Yes. Let’s do this!

We can’t wait to see what you create! Share your work with us over at our Flickr Pool Showcase.

From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial

The Tutorial you’ve been waiting for is finally upon us.

//

Introducing…

Long awaited, highly anticipated.

Our newest tutorial on the Go Media Arsenal release is based on Go Media President William Beachy’s wildly popular blog post on our ‘Zine, From Sketch to Vector Illustration.

This is Dirty: From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial is an intimate look into Bill’s design process.

Included in this 1 hour, 11 minute intimate instructional tutorial:

* All the resources you’ll need to follow along including: the extended tutorial (mp4 video), textures, pencil art, jpeg illustrations and AI illustration file

* Bill’s tips and tricks on >

– Supplies (the Staedler Mars mechanical pencil and sharpener, eraser of choice, the pros and cons of hard vs. soft lead, preferred paper type)

– Drawing (Pencil Sketch) (Getting into the right head-space, getting your arm loose, why starting with rough sketches is so important, getting started, having proper expectations of yourself, being flexible while drawing, drawing using basic geometrical shapes, drawing the human face, developing a series of cheats to draw, shading – how much black vs. white, using reference materials)

– Scanning (equipment specifications, scanning specifications)

– (Vector) Inking (Equipment and software specifications, Dell(PC) vs. Apple, Mouse vs. Wacom, nodes and bezier lines, setting up your layers, setting up gradients and picking colors, inking options, creating shapes in Illustrator, cross hatching)

– Coloring (Photoshop vs. Illustrator, setting up your layers, process strategy, highlights and secondary light source, adding shadows, adding a texture)

Stay tuned to this spot, as well as to our Arsenal to find out when and how you can buy this product.

Typography Shortcuts: ‘Custom’ Type Treatments for the Lazy Designer

‘Custom’ Type Treatments for the Lazy Designer

Custom hand-drawn type treatments are quite popular these days. Nothing says hipster-cool like hand lettering your client’s chalkboard coffee shop menu. But let’s face it – hand lettering requires a certain amount of artistic skill. And time. Lots and lots of time (and we all know not every client has a big budget).

So, what do you do? You want a custom type treatment for your client but you lack either the skills or time to do it right. You need a shortcut. You need a cheat. You need the gurus of Cleveland graphic design services Go Media’s (semi-) patented Custom Type Treatment for Lazy Designers technique!

Here’s how it’s done:

Greeves_Tatt_v2-01

Step 1. Select a font.

This is where all our time savings comes in. Your final product is going to be 85% font, 15% customization. While selecting the font will feel like the easiest step, it’s also the most important. Don’t rush through this step of the process! I will often times spend over two hours just trying to find the perfect font. Remember the font you select is 85% of the final product and picking a font will be SAVING you tons of time hand lettering – so go slow!

In this case, the project was for a close friend of mine who asked for a tattoo of the word “Unvanquished.” While I’m a great illustrator, I’m not great at hand drawing type, so I knew my best result would be to start with a font. I probably spent about three hours finding this one font (Anha Queen VMF Pro).

Greeves_Tatt_v2-02

Step 2. In Computer Modifications: Kerning

At this point I start by converting my type into ‘paths’ in Illustrator. I will be modifying my letters as vector shapes from here on out.

In my experience, no font’s kerning is perfect for every single word. So, once I’ve typed out the logotype I’m going to make, I fine-tune the letter spacing. When creating a word-mark I’ve found that you generally want the kerning tighter than what is comfortable for reading – this changes the word into a mark. You can see the adjustments I made with the kerning above.

Greeves_Tatt_v2-03

Step 3. In Computer Modifications: Eliminate Redundancies

Frequently fonts will include lots of repeating shapes. Sometimes these can be ugly and a dead giveaway that your type treatment is a font and not original. It’s ok if you keep one of these shapes, but remove any redundancy that stands out. I’ll also usually use this step in the process to clean out anything that I don’t like. This font has a lot of messy flourishes, so I’ll clean those up too.

Greeves_Tatt_v2-04

Step 4. In Computer Modifications: Play with Ascenders, Descenders and Letter Size

Fonts tend to have a certain-size perfection. All lowercase letters are pixel-perfect height, line thicknesses are exactly the same, etc. I like to play with all of this stuff to give the type treatment a bit more originality.

Greeves_Tatt_v2-05

Step 5. Hand Drawn Modifications

While hand-drawing this font from scratch was beyond my skill level, adding some hand-drawn modifications is a fun and easy way to further refine your type treatment. For this step, I simply print out my type onto an 11×17” sheet of paper, pull out a pencil and start playing! If you mess up, just throw it away (sorry, I mean recycle it) and start over. Once I’ve got something I’m happy with I will scan that back into the computer and ‘vectorize’ the elements that I drew.

SubstandardFullSizeRender

In this particular case, all my flourishes made the art a little too tall for my friend’s arm, so his tattoo artist modified my design a bit.

Step 6: Sit Back and Enjoy the View

After you’ve finished vectorizing the elements you’ve lazily hand-drawn, sit back and enjoy the view. Sarcasm aside, appreciate how, relatively quickly, you’ve been able to construct a pretty hip custom type treatment. Your client will be equally impressed and their pocket book will thank you, too.

Go Media’s Podcast for Designers – Collecting Metrics and What We’ve Learned

Go Media Podcast Episode 029:

Podcast for Graphic Designers by Go Media

In this episode, Bryan sits down with Bill, captain of the Go Team aka Go Media (the best website design company in Cleveland and beyond) to talk what we’ve learned after a year of collecting metrics. Plus, we announce with Heather Sakai that WMC Fest tickets are now on sale. And, we profile Go Media designer Carly Utegg.

Cleveland Browns New Logo 2015 Branding: William Beachy of Go Media Weighs In

Cleveland Browns New Logo 2015 Branding

Our recent post, “New” Browns Logo Leaves Cleveland Graphic Designers Deflated” collects expert advice from local authorities on the matter including our own William Beachy, president of Cleveland Design Firm Go Media, designer, brand expert and sports enthusiast.

William’s full interview is included below. Enjoy and be sure to catch the full story, featuring fellow experts Wilson Revehl, Chris Comella, Todd Radom, Aaron Sechrist and Julia Briggs here.

Interview with William Beachy 

The new Cleveland Browns logo design has been harshly derided in some circles for being underwhelming or, as some have put it, “just oranger.” Do you think that kind of criticism is fair or unfair? If so, why?

I think the criticism is appropriate. The Browns need to learn a little showmanship. The way they presented the changes was quite underwhelming. The icon of the helmet is BORING. They aren’t even using a modern helmet design with slick angular ear and vent holes or a fancy face mask. If I was going to roll out the new Browns brand, I’d show athletes in full uniform in dramatic lighting. At Go Media we present our brand ideas in context. Show me that logo on a flag, in the stadium, under the Monday night lights with cheering crowds in the background!

The team has stated the goals were to “honor tradition and provide a modern edge,” partially by incorporating a move from the traditional block lettering to a “cleaner, simpler, elegant” font and making the helmet “brighter and richer to match the passions of our fans.” Do you think those goals were accomplished?

Well, they’re certainly honoring the past. And yes, I think the new font is a natural progression from a more collegiate serif font to a strong clean modern look.

The Browns are currently the only NFL team whose primary logo is a helmet. Do you think there is value in that, or do you think there could have been a benefit to pushing beyond that “traditional” image?

I like tradition. And I think, Cleveland being a no-nonsense, blue-collar working man’s town can strangely identify with a logoless team brand. We may not look fancy, but we’re going to humbly show up to work every day and do our job. (Translation: We’re going to kick your ass and skip the post touchdown celebration dances.) Unfortunately, when your team isn’t winning, a boring brand is just adding insult to injury – it’s not a badge of honor to be worn, it’s a mark of shame.

In what ways do you think the team would have benefited from a more daring design change?

How you dress can affect the way you feel about yourself. Back when I had hair, I always felt much better about myself after a fresh haircut. And when you’re feeling better, you’ll probably perform a little better. I’m not suggesting a fancy uniform can turn a loser into a winner, but sometimes it can help – even if just a little.

Had the team gone for a more adventurous approach, what kind of elements could/should the designers have incorporated?

I’m not sure that we’ve even seen the complete redesign yet. All we’ve seen is a logo, color and typeface. So much of a team’s brand is in the complete uniform – what does the striping look like? Brown pants or white? What types of materials are being used? Do they have subtle patterns on them? What about the helmet? If it made with a matte finish paint like some colleges are using? Even within the constraints of Cleveland’s traditional brand aesthetics, there is a lot of room to create a bad-ass design. Personally, I would have loved to see the stripe on the helmet get much thicker. In 2012, The Ohio State Buckeyes had a special uniform with an extra wide metallic helmet stripe, and it looked awesome. This is a good example of how you can take the boring traditional and spice it up with color, material, texture, and design etc.

Is there anything about the new logo that “works”? If so, explain.

Nothing in particular is amazing or different or better… It’s just kind of the same thing.

Do you think this logo design change was ultimately the best decision for the team in this case?

Football is entertainment. And if you’re going to be an effective entertainer over the long haul, you’ve got to embrace reinvention. The NFL changes their marketing, logos, rules, etc. constantly. As an NFL team the Browns also need to constantly reinvent themselves. Ya gotta make it fresh! In my opinion, this was an okay step in the right direction, but certainly I would have gone further with it and presented it with a little more glitz and glam!

Is there anything you would have done differently if you had tackled this project?
I would have hired Go Media. ;)

| Talk Design with Bill |

Go Media Cleveland Creative Studio: Our 2014 in 3 Minutes

Go Media Cleveland Creative Studio: Our 2014 in 3 Minutes

Go Media is so much more than a creative studio.

Small in number, we are mighty in what we set out to achieve each and every year – from our passionate web design, logo, branding and print design projects, to our product Arsenal, our blog, our subscription based mockup sites (Mockup Everything and Shirt Mockup), video series (On the Map) and annual design conference (Weapons of Mass Creation Fest).

Not to mention the other hijinks that ensue throughout the year due to our collective love for design, community, life. Enjoy our look-back on 2014.

We hope to see you in 2015!

Go Media on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

______________________________________________

About Go Media:

What does great design mean to you?
For some, it’s all about sales and results. For others, it’s about winning that next big award. At Go Media, a Cleveland web design, branding and print design studio, great design is the product of passion, purpose, and possibility. It’s a place where the art of communication is expressed in ways that surprise and satisfy our clients.

Our Ohio City headquarters is buzzing with artists, strategists and enthusiasts who approach each new project with an eye for detail and an ear for objectives. The result? Visually stunning concepts that captivate, compel purchase and even earn a few awards.

How can we help you express your next big idea? Get Started Here!

Best Spotify Playlists for Getting Sh*t Done – Go Media Staff, Volume 1: William Beachy

If you’ve ever entered Go Media headquarters,  you’ll most likely be blown away by one thing – quite immediately.

The sound of complete and utter silence.

It’s something I first noticed when I first stepped my foot onto the third floor of this, 4507 Lorain Avenue, and something almost everyone comments on upon entering.

Quickly though, you’ll come to understand the reason. More often that not, each and every one of us has our headphones on, being inspired and motivated by our favorite music.

Getting it done.

We thought it would be fun if we each constructed a Spotify playlist for you, dear readers. Each is chock-full of songs that put that creative fire in our bellies.

You can find these playlists each and every Monday here on the ‘Zine. We’re kicking off our favorite Spotify playlists with one from William Beachy, President of Cleveland website designers, Go Media.

William Beachy’s “Go Media’s EDM Work Playlist”

The name says it all. I slowly pieced together this playlist over an entire year. This is just over two hours of high energy, bad-ass, bass thumping, soaring vocal, punch-you-in-the-face dropping electronic music. If you like Electronic Dance Music, you’ll be head bobbing and chair dancing yourself into a blissful state of productivity. If not, welp, you gotta go if you don’t like techno.

See you next time!

How to Land & Maintain Big Clients: 11 Absolutely Essential Tips

Cover image includes work from Go Media for Dawn, Pepsi and Lincoln Electric. For more of our work click here. 

Landing Big Clients

One question we’re always presented with here at our Cleveland based website and graphic design firm Go Media is: “How do you land big clients?” After all, don’t we all want to work with big name clients and live the dream? As you can imagine, it’s not so easy. Landing those big name clients takes time, hard work and hustle. Here are some pro tips we’ve learned, with some additional thoughts from a few of our friends.

1. Put Yourself Out There.

Easy enough, ey? Rule number one is simple, effective, essential. But listen: you simply must dedicate time to networking.  It’s easy to value, yet put on the backburner when you’re going a mile a minute. Once you’ve carved out the time, assure you’re getting out in the community and building genuine relationships with folks in your industry.

Genuine being the key word. Get out, hang out in real-world places where like-minded individuals spend their time and not only gain a new hobby, but solid, meaningful relationships.

“In sales, it’s incredibly important to build relationships. Most people have a negative view of the typical salesman or woman – no one likes the feeling of ‘being sold,’ reminds Go Media Account Manager Lauren Hudac. “If you build trust, you’re more likely to establish a relationship that lasts.”

Photo courtesy of Mytton Williams

Photo courtesy of Mytton Williams

Bob Mytton, Partner and Creative Director of Brand and Consultancy Firm Mytton Williams reminisces about his first client, and the importance of personal relationships. “One of our first major clients was Clarks shoes. We were asked to review their identity and complete implementation across everything from business cards to their lorries and packaging. It all started through various personal connections. Before setting up Mytton Williams I worked at Newell & Sorrell, a brand and design firm. I had built up some good relationships with various clients. One of them left and joined Clarks and passed on our details. I went down for a presentation to meet the Design Director. It turned out he had close associations with Pentagram, where I had got my first job as a junior designer. I think we spent most of the meeting talking about working at Pentagram. He liked our work, we sent a proposal and got the job. Looking back it was relatively simple. Being only a short drive away helped and meant we worked closely with the design team there for many years, designing work that not only helped increase sales but ended up winning several major design awards. A wonderful project.”

2. Think Big.

But, you think, I’m only one person, or I’m a freelancer! How can I take on a giant, big name client? You must simply think, and act just as mighty. Thinking, acting and speaking confidently will take you a long way.

Jen Lombardi from Cleveland design firm Kiwi Creative states, “In the past, we were hesitant to approach big-name clients because we automatically assumed they’d want to work with a large agency. Not the case! Small studios can be just as creatively effective as large firms, so don’t sell yourself short. You have to be in the game to win the game, so put yourself out there! You might be surprised at the results.”

Courtesy of Kiwi Creative
Courtesy of Kiwi Creative

3. Strategically Contact.

Go Media President William Beachy’s advice? Get a game plan together regarding who to contact. Here’s a hint: the best contact is probably not the owner. Instead, “Find someone else internally who you’ll be able to connect with – an art director or marketing director of a smaller department – versus attempting to take on the head of the corporation. Start a conversation through email, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever works.”

Another route? Attempt going through an Artist Rep or Advertising Agency instead. Bill notes, “Big clients tend to have existing relationships with ad agencies and design studios already. Since these big clients aren’t always looking to change, you can go directly to their agency and look for sub-contracted work.”

4. Communicate through a Genuine Email.

Once you’ve researched who to contact, brainstorm how you’ll connect. Recognize that a short, informal email might be much more effective (and genuine) than any flashy marketing material you may create.

how to land big clients

5. Throw an Event for Your Dream Client.

How can a client turn down an invitation to an event you’re throwing in their honor? Here at Go Media, we’ve created a video series, On the Map, which highlights area businesses. After all, we love showing off our great city and building relationships while we’re at it.  The highlighted business owners receive free publicity, no strings attached, and we all have a great time.

OTM – Ginko from Go Media on Vimeo.

6. Work on Spec (if needed)

For the most part, we caution against working on spec, as we find most clients that make that request are untrustworthy.

Notes Beachy in his book Drawn to Business, “An exception would be very large, well-funded companies that have outlined a formal contract to be won. For instance, when Nike wants to hire a new advertising firm, they will outline their needs, put a dollar amount on the advertising budget and invite select marketing firms to present their ideas. In a case like that, the competing advertising firms will absolutely do tons of work mocking up ads, even producing TV commercials to help sell their ideas. Technically, this is work on spec. If they don’t land the contract, they don’t get paid a dime.”

“Similarly, Go Media was recently asked to do a presentation in hopes of landing a contract to develop ten property websites for a large real estate company. As part of our pitch, we mocked up several different homepage designs to help sell our ideas. In a case like this, I knew this would be a massive project with a potential massive payout. In my estimation, it was well worth the time. We ending up winning the contract and learned afterward that we were the only firm that did mock-ups. But this was the exception to the rule. Generally, I would advise young designers and small firms to avoid doing work on spec.”

Kate Spade Photo | Courtesy of Dan Morgan, Straight Shooter Photography
Kate Spade Photo | Courtesy of Dan Morgan, Straight Shooter Photography

7. Be patient and build your portfolio.

Dan Morgan, Cleveland photographer and owner of Straight Shooter Photography reminds us to “Be friendly, firm and VERY patient.” While you wait to amass your dream client roster, “Keep many examples of work you have done, even remotely similar to what you are looking for. If you don’t have any samples make them up, create assignments for yourself, for your portfolio, that illustrate a variety the type of work you are looking for. Always pay attention to your phone and e-mail messages, and respond immediately.”

8. Make a Great First Impression.

Notes Beachy in Drawn to Business, “How you perform on the very first project is absolutely critical. More specifically, your first set of proofs will establish in the mind of your customer whether they can relax and trust you to do great work, or if they’re going to have to look at everything you do with a critical eye. If you’re working with a new client, the first project is the most critical time in that relationship.”

9. Focus on Quality and Consistency, Always.

Once you’ve landed that big client, your focus for maintaining your relationship is simple: quality and consistency, notes Pete Maric of Triplet 3D, Inc.

“Clients hire you because they know you can deliver what they are looking for and to a certain quality. Once the relationship is established, and the client loved your work on the first project, you can bet on receiving more work in the future (most of the time). When the new projects come in, you have to maintain consistency in all aspects of your business; from estimating, billing, doing the creative work, and how you communicate with your client. If you’ve ever read the book The E-Myth, the last thing a client wants is their experience with your company to be completed different every time they hire you. Obviously, the creative services you offer should be custom-crafted and unique to the client’s project, but all other right-brain aspects of your business should be systemized and consistent. This includes how you answer your phone, the tone you use in your correspondence, how you deliver your projects, after-project follow up- and all of this should be reinforced on your website and marketing materials. Consistency rules!”

University Hospitals Illustration by Triplet 3D
University Hospitals Illustration by Triplet 3D

10. Treat Your Client with Fairness.

Maric also reminds us that fairness is vital in healthy and long client relationships.

He notes, “Years ago, maybe 2-3 years into working as a freelance designer/illustrator, I was hired by an architecture studio to create two illustrations of a new restaurant they had designed. Being as green as I was at the time, after meeting with the architects and reviewing all of the plans, I verbally gave them a cost estimate for the work. Without even hesitating, one of the architects says to me ‘be fair to us, be fair to yourself’- that simple! ‘Be fair to us, be fair to yourself’ is one phrase that has stuck with me to this day. I am so glad to have done that project just for those few simple, yet powerful words. I truly feel that ‘landing big clients’ and maintaining long-term quality relationships is as simple as treating people fairly all the time. In the end, it’s really not about business-to-business or business-to-consumer, it’s people-to-people! If your client knows that you care about them and their projects, and you treat them fairly every time they come through your door, you are golden! Expect work for years to come.”

Dan Morgan, reminiscences of a time when fairness paid off for him in a long-standing client relationship. He says: “Soon after I returned to Cleveland from New York City, in 2005, I made it my business to go to every possible networking event I could manage. By chance, I ran into an old client at an art Gallery / Coffee Shop. He was no longer working at the Ad Agency that he used to hire me for; he recently started working for a company called Ideastream Consumer Products. I always provided him great service for a fair price.  Because of that, I have continued to do consistent work for the company since.”

11. Last but not least, always say ‘Thank you!’

“Always thank clients for their business,” notes Hudac. “A hand-written note still goes a long way.  Here at Go Media, we write a thank you note for every project, big and small. For bigger projects we land, we send a really fun Go Media moleskine package. All the time I hear how much clients appreciate this gesture.”

____________________________________________________________________________

Want more advice on Landing Big Clients and how to start your own million dollar design firm? Buy Go Media President William Beachy’s book, Drawn to Business.

Many thanks to contributors Mytton Williams | Kiwi Creative |
Straight Shooter Photography | Triplet 3D

Massive Drawn to Business Price Drop: Build A Million Dollar Business for Less with this Must-Have Resource

Massive Drawn to Business Price Drop

As many of you know, we are incredibly proud of the content inside our newest eBook, Drawn to Business.

Drawn to Business is a transparent look inside our business, a complete guide on the way to build a design studio the Go Media way. It’s chock-full of tips, tricks, techniques and best practices straight from the founder of Go Media himself, William Beachy, plus more than a dozen contributors from other companies.

Then…

We came to realize that our initial pricing proved to be a barrier for some folks.

Because of that, we decided we needed to do something drastic.

Permanent Price Drop

We want any and everyone to benefit from the extraordinary insight inside this resource, so we’ve drastically reduced prices on all Drawn to Business products up to 60% off. (Yes, for good).

Discounted items include our Plus Package, eBook, Paperback, Supplemental PDF content, Bonus Video Content and Business Plan Workbook.

View all the features of Drawn to Business

Plus Package – now $59.99 ($150)

graphic-design-ebook-drawn-to-business-plus-package-hero2

eBook – now $19.99 ($37)

drawn-to-business-pdf-sale

Paperback – now $34.99 ($47)

paperback-sale

Supplemental PDF Content  – now $15 ($76)

drawn-to-business-supplemental

Bonus Video Content  – now $15 ($76)

drawn to business videos-sale

Business Plan Workbook – now $15 ($76)

drawn to business bpw-sale

View all the features of Drawn to Business

Enjoy and please share your thoughts on Drawn to Business below!

6 Questions to Consider When Rebranding Your Company

Things to consider before rebranding your company.

Here at Cleveland creative agency Go Media, we take branding very seriously. We have helped many companies, who’ve undergone natural growth and change, take necessary steps to transform the face of their company for the better. Consider these six simple questions when rebranding your own company and you’ll be on the road to success.

1. What is the goal?

Don’t rebrand simply just because. You should have a specific set of goals driving your rebrand. Perhaps, for example, you are a tech company who needs to modernize a logo designed in the 70’s. Ask yourself why you are rebranding and give yourself an excellent answer. Don’t have one? It may not be time.

rebranding your company 1

2. Is brand boredom the reason for the rebrand?

Many times business owners will rebrand because they’re suffering from brand boredom. They’re looking at their brand all day long, every day. Brand boredom, on the part of the business owner, is normal and only natural. This, however, not a good reason to rebrand! Remember that clients are not coming into contact with your brand as frequently as you. They need to become familiar with your color schemes, fonts, mark. This can only be accomplished through consistency.

rebranding your company 2

3. What is your brand equity?

Is your brand equity good or bad? When customers come in contact with your logo, do they remember the amazing work you’ve done for them? Or, do they instead only recall a negative experience with you? If you believe your brand to have a positive brand equity, this is extremely valuable! Hold onto that value! If you feel a change is in order, a brand refresh, is what we recommend. With a brand refresh, you’ll use enough new elements to move the brand forward while keeping enough old elements to maintain brand recognition.

Consider your brand to have a negative equity? You may want to try something new, so far as considering a new name and a new brand. You’ll want to completely break any negative association with your brand if needed. For example, imagine you owned an airline that had a 50% incidence rate of plane crashes over a one year period. Your brand equity would call for a complete change to say the least.

rebranding your company 3

4. What costs are involved?

When thinking about doing a rebrand of your company, you must consider all of the costs involved. Your brand is more pervasive than you may at first think and if you’re considering a rebrand you’ll have to replace everything relatively quickly. This includes your letterhead, your website, building signs, ads, etc.  Hesitate to do so and your customers will be seeing two brands for an extended period of time. Focus on primary touch points first, then go from there. Also, possibly hold off on a rebrand until you have exhausted your stock of items with old branding. This way, when you’ve rebranding, you can restock and be all ready to go!

5. Have you considered your whole brand?

Keep in mind that your brand is not only a logo, but that your brand also embodies your company in its entirety. Your brand is your personality, its messaging, copy. Your brand is what you say and how you say it. Your brand is your company’s vibe, the music you play, your uniform, the furniture in your office. Consider a rebrand and how these elements may be impacted.

6. How will you transition the rebrand?

The rebranding process can be very disruptive if not handled with finesse. Making major aesthetic shifts or changing your names can confuse customers. Consider how you’ll educate your customers about the transition to your new brand. Some examples? Place your old brand next to your new brand, or explain very clearly to customers that “ABC Company is now XYZ Company.”  Take some time to let things sink in.

Considering a rebrand? Don’t forget to consult your friends here at Go Media!

8 Secrets to Battling Burnout & Tools to Help You Kickstart your Day

Battle Burnout: Tips for Designers, Managers, Entrepreneurs

This is an excerpt from Go Media President William Beachy’s book, Drawn to Business. Drawn to Business is the best reference for those looking to start their own million dollar business.

Building a business requires massive amounts of focus and energy. It’s perfectly natural to have moments where you feel absolutely fried. You won’t feel motivated to lift a single finger. Finding ways to motivate yourself are key in business and in life. Here is a list of motivators I’ve used to keep myself productive:

8 Secrets to Battling Burnout

1. Start with the low fruit. It’s always easiest to start with simple tasks and build up to larger ones. So as you look over your list of everything you need to do, pick something simple to get the ball rolling.

Block out the noise with these apps:
Anti-Social: blocks social media sites which take you away from what you need to be doing
StayFocused: an extension by Google Chrome which increases your productivity by limiting the time that you can spend on time-wasting websites

2. Make checklists. I’m not sure why exactly, but checklists have always been a motivator for me. Perhaps it’s because I can see a well-defined list of the things I need to get done. Or perhaps it’s the visceral satisfaction of crossing items off my list after I’m done. Whatever it is, I believe in lists.

Try Teux Deux: a straight-forward and simple to-do app
Lift App: employs coaching, community and data to help get things done
Any.do: a task list app available on Google Play and the Apple App store
Wunderlist: an easy way to manage and share your to-do lists
2Do: allows for color coding of tasks, scheduling, notifications and tags
Todosit: enables you to access your tasks anywhere as well as collaborate on shared tasks

3. Break down your large to-do items into smaller tasks. Sometimes when I’m having a difficult time getting started on a particular project, it’s because the project is large with lots of work required to finish it. The size of the project alone is what’s intimidating. “Well, I know I’ll never be able to finish that project today—so why start? That won’t be very rewarding.” But any large project can be broken down into smaller steps – baby steps. Focus on one of the baby steps and give yourself a reward when you’ve finished it.

4. Make a game out of it. This works particularly well when faced with boring repetitive work. How many widgets can you design in an hour?

Try Carrot App: a task list with attitude
My Minutes: rewards you when you meet small goals, nudges you when you’re taking too much time

5. Make a story out of it. If the context of your project is boring, then you need to use your imagination! Imagine for a moment that your logo design project is not for the local private school, but for a covert military organization. This shift in perspective can really boost your enthusiasm. Also, it can push your design to a higher standard.

quote

6. Find Inspiration. Read a book, talk to other entrepreneurs, or browse the web. Do whatever it takes to reignite the fire in your belly. When illustrating was the focus of my business, I would drive to the local comic book shop to get inspired. These days it’s a good business biography that inspires me the most.

7. Do Nothing. When nothing else is working, I will turn to this technique. Now, I know this might seem contrary to what you’re hoping to accomplish, but let me explain. Sometimes if I’m having a really hard time focusing and working hard, I just don’t. I just stop. I’ll take a nap, watch TV, go for a walk or browse the web. In my experience, if I just let myself take a little break, my motivation will come back on its own. It’s only when I try to force myself to work hard when I’m not in the mood  that I feel really bad.

8. Set a time limit. Before you try the “Do Nothing” technique, try giving yourself a short-term goal. Like: work hard for one hour. Sometimes you just need to get the ball rolling and before you know it, three hours will have passed. So, pick something manageable—maybe even break it down to 15 minutes. I’m going to sit and write my book for 15 minutes (yes, I’m using this technique right now)!

Rescue Time: tracks time spent on applications and websites, gives you detailed reports about your day
Toggl: tracks time, showing you what you spent your day on and for how long you worked on each task
ATracker: for iPhone and iPad – tracks your time and reports via pie chart, bar chart and data export
Eternity Time Log: for iPhone and iPad – tracks and times your daily tasks with a simple start and stop feature

What tricks and tools do you use to keep yourself on track?

Purchase Drawn to Business now – $35

The Number One Myth of Hiring (& How You Can Overcome It)

Hey Go Media Faithful! Here’s another excerpt from my book, Drawn to Business, about the number one myth I’ve found in the hiring process. For more of my insights and actual tools to help you start your own million dollar company, pick up the book as well as its supplemental materials, now available on the Arsenal.

Start my own million dollar design firm.

When to Hire Employees

Simply put, your staff IS your company. And your relative success or failure is frequently a result of the quality of your people. If you think you can hire mediocre people and train them to be great, well, think again. Particularly when you’re small and getting started, the impact of your staff is amplified. A very small business is really more about its people and less about its systems. You need to make sure you’re finding and hiring the very best employees.

Here’s What I Had To Overcome

The Myth: more employees equals more profits.

I had this idea stuck in my head for most of my life; the more employees I have, the more money I make. Even before I was seeing any real return on the hours I was working in my business, I was anxiously trying to hire on employees. The thought was that an employee was like a little engine, churning out profits. The more little engines you have running, the more profit is pouring out onto your company floor. Well, this is a fun idea, but what if your engines produce $1 per hour in profits and what if your engines require $2 worth of gas each hour to run? Now your little money engines aren’t churning out profits, they’re burning money at a rate of $1/hour.

It’s important to blow up the myth in your head that staff will somehow magically make you money. Having an employee is not inherently good or bad for your company’s profits. They may make you lots of money, or they may cost you lots of money. The only real guarantee is that you have to pay them either way. So, before you run out and start expanding your staff…

Get out your calculators

Do the Math: hire what you can afford. Don’t be tempted by that high-priced gun. When Go Media first got started, we wanted to hire the very best employees, so we did. We paid them what they asked for. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the quality of employees that we hired. We never did the math. We assumed that because they were good designers, somehow their value added to what our firm would produce: the extra income necessary to pay their salary. We had a problem. We weren’t charging our customers enough hourly to cover the employee’s hourly wage. After six months, we were broke and forced to lay off our newfangled employee.

fosterscreativity

So when DO you hire?

When do you hire? A good rule of thumb for hiring is when you have enough money coming in that you can afford to pay that new employee EVEN IF THAT NEW EMPLOYEE DOES NOT CONTRIBUTE ONE PENNY TO YOUR INCOME. If you have any doubt whatsoever about your ability to afford a new employee, you probably shouldn’t be hiring them.

Before you start to scale up your business you need to ask:

  1. “Is this system humming? Am I dialed in? Are we churning out rock-solid profits every month?” Or, are you hoping to fix your system by bringing in more people? Are you bringing on people hoping THEY will be the ones who start bringing in the money? If this is your perspective, then you shouldn’t be hiring.
  2. Another question you can ask yourself when considering whether or not to hire someone is: “Is there historical precedence for their job?” In other words, are you getting regular requests for the job they’re going to do? If there isn’t a proven track record of demand, then I would look to an alternate option to hiring a new employee. Build the demand first, line up the work, and THEN hire a new employee.

bonuscontent

All in all what I’ve found is that more employees do not necessarily mean more profits. Employees are a liability. Whether you’re busy or not, you need to pay them. Wait to hire more employees until the evidence and need is overwhelming.

How about you? What have you found to be the biggest myth in your hiring process? What hurdles have you faced? Join the conversation in the comments below!

For more hiring tips, including Supplemental Materials like “How to Hire the Rockstar Staff of Your Dreams,” head over to the Arsenal, where you can pick up all of our bonus content!

Drawn to Business   How to Build a Thriving Design Firm