Studio+Entrepreneurship GDE730 19/20

Module 3 Week 9: Workshop Challange

The Challenge

Being an entrepreneur today

Create an information graphic, or diagram, or animation that, for you, highlights the effective definition and process of a being a design entrepreneur today.

  • Upload your diagram to the Ideas Wall and discuss the pros and cons of how risk, failure and innovation is built into a model for business success;
  • What is the impact of different cultural insights with regard to opportunity and potential?
  1. Research, analyse and distil the core characteristics, ethics and theory of entrepreneurship.
  2. Design and visually communicate an information graphic, or diagram, or animation that, for you, highlights the effective definition and process of a being a design entrepreneur today.

Lecture notes: Video 

Neef Rehman ustwo Adventure Adventure Lead

Sinx (John Sinclair) ustwo Co-Founder

Robin Howie Fieldwork Facility Founder & Creative Director

Sophie Hawkins SHawkinsCo. Founder

Sections I found interesting of this discussion

‘you have to win confidence to get yourself clients. Initially I took on freelance work with other design studios to pay the bills whilst this studio was taking off.’ RH

‘a lot of people talk about their own practice as being a freelancer, but for me it was operating under the guise of a studio compared to when I was running out of money a bit, I’d go and work as a freelancer.’ RH 

‘I think commonly people think a competitive advantage means having some kind of niche which you can really leverage to be successful within that niche. For me, the idea of just doing one thing really well both bores me and scares me at the same time. As I mentioned earlier, Fieldwork is more about uncharted territories, we love really unusual design challenges’ RH

‘I think maybe the first five years of studio it was purely craft focused. When I talk about craft, that’s the craft of an idea, craft of an execution, the craft of trying to find new opportunities and new business.’ RH

‘My idealism has certainly caught up with the reality. I would say when I hit the year five mark, that’s when I started waking up. ‘ 

He wanted to take on bigger challenges and needed to make a studio that could facilitate those challenges.

‘Somehow, despite not being from a family with lots of money or a large network of potential clients, I have managed to create my own opportunities that slowly turned into a studio with clients who are self-selecting. I don’t do cold calling, but people find the work that we do interesting and they seek us out. I’m really proud of that.’ RH

‘It’s not rocket science; it’s just being good to people and doing good work and it all falls into place. I think rather than having an MBA, it is just having good emotional intelligence, how to work with people, how to treat people and making sure everything’s fair from the outset.’

My reflections 

This part of the lecture struck me the most significant because it hit home that if you are consistent and you really believe in the work you are doing and keep going, you can build a business – without the advantages of prior wealth and contacts.

Also, it has showed me how diverse one must be as an entrepreneur, constantly adapting to new situations and changing your mindset; as well as the need for sensitivity in terms of relating to your clients and nurturing the relationships you have with them.

Core characteristics of Entrepreneurship 

In the E Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber states that, in order to run a successful business, you need to collaborate with three different parts of yourself. The first is the Technician -ie the person who drives the workload of the business, sitting down for 12 hours a day at the computer and churning out whatever work that needs to be done to make the business function. The technician is the person who said to themselves, ‘I do not need to do this work for my boss because I can do it for myself instead. What would be the difference?’. The problem is that it is not just the technician that makes up a business. The manager is the person who will go to the store and buy 20 different plastic boxes in order to try and organise and compartmentalise a business; who is good at communicating with people and keeping a team going. The entrepreneur is the one who dreams up the idea, who thinks less about the actual product, and more about the business structure: how you will you deliver that product to the customer; which business model is the most effective for this; how the business will turn a healthy profit. 

The problem is that these three very separate characters are inside all of us in different proportions and they, more often than not, disagree. 

I think for myself, the question I should be asking is not what are the characteristics of entrepreneurship, but more, what are the characteristics of a successful small business owner? Being an entrepreneur is not enough to make a business function. Having said that, if one was much more entrepreneurial than technical or managerial, I would suggest the most important aspects of entrepreneurship would be self-examination and resourcefulness: knowing where your weaknesses lie and outsourcing to compensate / substitute for these. 

Ethics of entrepreneurship                                                                     

I think that it is important that this generation of designers, entrepreneurs or business owners are conscientious about the world around them. They need to be adaptable and sensitive to the environment and different types of people and be ready to change their practices and broaden their target markets. They need to think responsibly about the type of materials they use, production processes and ethical standpoints. The world is becoming less and less tolerant of products or services that are damaging to our world or society. Plastic toys and fast fashion will soon be a thing of the past and we need to be the ones to think about design solutions for a more sustainable and inclusive future. 

Theory of Entrepreneurship. 

Looking at some of the resources from this week, I was particularly drawn to a few magazine and articles in particular: 

Wired Magazine

This article exclaims how our world is becoming completely design obsessed thanks to large influential companies such as Apple. Now everything we buy has to be beautifully designed or we will not be drawn to it. We are all becoming design snobs and will not look at it if it doesn’t look stylish and aesthetically pleasing. The same can be said for the soap we buy (Method) and even the thermostats in our homes (Nest). Everything must look perfect and we have become accustomed to this. 

Having said this, the article also asks the question: even though there are many design driven ideas, why are there so few design entrepreneurs? 

In a nutshell, the reason for this is simple: the role of a designer is to design; it is not to strategize about the business, doing 20 things at once, delegating, hiring, firing, thinking about the profits and functionalities of the business. It is to design and do it well. 

When I started my business, the main reason why it didn’t work was because, as a designer, I invested too much time and money into developing the product and not enough into structuring the business. Design can be all-consuming; It is difficult to sit down and let your mind create and innovate while worrying about how you are going to pay the studio plus other overheads with funds generated. Having said that designers are ‘uniquely suited to solving problems’ and this is something that goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship. 

For me, loving design and loving the struggle of growing a business are two very different facets of personality, and their coexistence is bound to be a challenge. 

Intern Magazine

An article I read in Intern mag about pricing graphic design work is extremely helpful. Above all else, I struggled with pricing in my business. After spending 8 months pouring heart and soul into design, manufacture, finishes and packaging, I created a shiny finished product. A subsequent difficulty in putting this out into the world had much to do with uncertainty about pricing: if I went too high, I was worried no one would buy it, but valuing my work too low seemed a poor reflection of all the work I had done. The outcome was a period of panic and price-changing which would inevitably have sent very mixed messages to my buyers. Being able to confidently price your work and present it for sale is a large ‘must’ for successful entrepreneurial outcomes.

Final Piece Workshop Challenge