So many times I work with small business clients who’re launching their business and if it doesn’t immediately take off or elicit instant ‘likes and responses’ they start to question everything, they flail and freak out over social media or grasp at discounts and random competitions without ever really stepping into that illusive income stream. They are so concerned with saving money that they overlook how important it is to hire the right people to help them. And they therefore don’t give themselves a fighting chance because they don’t understand that a designer can help to build and work at the basics in their business to ensure that income ‘stream’ becomes a river.

To be honest I can feel myself doing that sometimes too … In the ‘down times’ when my production schedule is beginning to look a little sparse that all too familiar mild background panic (that most freelancers live with at a certain level, always) begins to rise into my stomach … then into my throat. Am I good enough? What am I doing wrong? Why am I not booking work?

There is so much out there we need to master in order to get and keep ourselves ‘out there’ that it can get totally overwhelming. Never mind still having to find a way to keep any current projects and deadlines on track too. I am not sure about you, but more and more I am noticing the world bombarding us with shouldas, wouldas, couldas and haddas. You shoulda done it that way then you woulda had that and you coulda bought this if you hadda listened to …

It’s easy to totally lose yourself in the negativity. It’s easy to question why ‘potential clients’ can be so blind to how professional design can make such a big difference to their entire business. ESPECIALLY as you understand and have experienced that when money is tight IT IS THEN that they should be fighting HARDER than their competition to keep clients, find new ones and maintain income streams.

Then I move on to questioning my sanity entirely in this fickle, google-it, clip art society and compare myself to the ‘free-logo-when-you-buy-200-business-cards’ promise of the local print shop world; I find myself questioning the entire point of what I am doing for a living. Maybe I SHOULD work cheaper, maybe the client really IS always right … I start to believe that this is true when it 100% is NOT!

Hang on!

This is where I remember that I am NOT a print shop and I am NOT selling bits of paper with pretty, meaningless, isolated made-in-two-minute things on them. I am not NOT creating a ‘throw away’, ‘made in Taiwan’ design to be reproduced 12 million times. My clients are NOT shopping for the same loaf of bread and bottle of milk that they can walk in, pull off the shelf, chuck in their baskets and take home all in one fell swoop, like everyone else.

I AM creating a bespoke design solution. I AM designing small parts of a unique and bigger picture. I AM creating foundations for businesses to build on. I AM working towards a much larger one-of-a-kind goal to positively move businesses forward. I AM creating brands that work FOR business and ensure that they MAKE MONEY! And I AM working hand in hand WITH amazing and visionary clients and colleagues!

The point is that the more we work, the better we will get; the more we design and create the more we will learn and grow. Each job and client comes with a lesson or new line of thinking which we have to take to help the client achieve their specific solution or goal. Each lesson is a step forward on the road of our experience and expertise. We NEED to learn something new from each experience and take that with us into the next experience. Keep doing what you love, keep working for yourself, even in the down times. We need to continue to grow. It WILL show.

And yes. A critical key to a our successful creative businesses is in choosing the right clients who appreciate my experience, trust my vision and understand I am working in partnership WITH them to create solutions for their specific needs. We need to be patient, keep on educating our clients as to our processes and keep putting ourselves out there and trusting ourselves. There are perfect clients out there for each of us.

Steve Jobs said it perfectly when he said: ”Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

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