The struggle to make time to work ON your firm–as opposed to IN it–is REAL.
I meet designers every week who are too busy, overwhelmed, and overworked by their own workload.
It’s the ebb and flow.
Feast and famine.
The common juggling act that consists of building relationships and delivering the work promised.
Yet, the answer to this common overwhelm is counterintuitive.
Stop working IN your firm. And start working ON your firm.
I recommend at least an hour each week.
If you’re eyes are bulging out of your head right now because an hour feels impossible, start with 5 minutes each week.
Review your timesheet. Review your billable versus non-billable time. Review your project hours. This task alone will start to connect to the operations of your business.
Then the following week, spend 10 minutes recording your hours from the previous week.
Start small, and incrementally increase your time month-to-month.
Setting aside time to work on your firm is imperative to achieving the impact you want to have.
Because when you’re too caught up in the minutiae, you cannot see the bigger picture.
Think of it this way:
Your business is a puzzle with key pieces that fit together to create a complete picture.
You need to study each piece to determine how it fits. But you don’t just study one piece the WHOLE time.
Your projects are one piece. Your clients are another. Operations, communications, finance, etc. are other pieces.
You need to move from piece to piece, testing and fitting them together.
Unlike a puzzle, your business will never be complete, pretty picture. But the more time you spend on ALL the pieces, the less fuzzy the picture of your business will be.
Because your business is a design project in of itself.
deserves demands attention to thrive.
Now, you don’t have to just read my diatribe. (Because, well, the business design is what I love working on.)
I’ve enlisted the support from five designers to share why they know it’s imperative to take a step outside your business and work on it.
In September, these five firm leaders, along with seven others, dedicated an hour each week to crafting the details of their unique value.
This was just one puzzle piece that they worked on to impact the bigger picture.
They dug into their talents, passions, and motivations.
They analyzed and selected their ideal clients.
And they crafted a statement about their firm, ready to put in front of their short list of actual ideal clients.
But this tangible outcome was just the tip of the iceberg.
Each inspiring leader below has shared why working ON your firm is imperative and transformational to the difference you want to make in the world.
5 reasons why working on your firm is worth the time
1. You will move from “why I’m important to clients” to “how I can help a client.”
Using the personality test gave me great keywords that could help me differentiate myself from my competition. I’m now branding myself and my work on an emotional level–which was really eye opening to me.
Abeiene Nejar is a design research consultant that supports allergy-friendly food brands seeking higher market share by helping them connect with their customers’ buying behaviours so they can increase reach and revenue.
Find Abeiene at StoriesAndDesign.ca
2. You will determine–and remind yourself–of what’s priority.
I tend to get myself down a rabbit hole when working on my business which leads to never-ending, always-in-development tasks and constant overwhelm. I realized I need to hold the same accountability for myself that I offer my clients to move my business forward.
Valerie Farber is the founder of Spatial Medium, a multidisciplinary design studio that helps social enterprises and leaders gain clarity around their company’s culture and future vision. By combining unconventional storytelling and targeted programming, we create experiences that allow our clients to get out of the day-to-day grind and back on the leading edge of social change and innovation.
Find Valerie at SpatialMedium.com
3. You will glean important insights from your past work.
It’s easy when you’re in thick of it, with your face glued to the screen, to lose perspective. Dedicating an hour+ each week to our firm helped me to step back from everything, reflect on the big picture, and then refocus on the next step. Engaging previous clients was enlightening process that taught me so much.
Ed Dale-Harris is the Founder of SAWA Architecture, a humanitarian design collective that collaborates with health and education government agencies and charities seeking to understand the needs of their communities so they can improve the delivery and impact of their services.
Find Ed at SAWArchitecture.com
4. You will improve your communication with clients.
Through the course, I gained much more insight into how to communicate what I do for my clients and how to better take care of them. In simple words: customer service skills!
Enock Ruziga is an architect and works with Ed Dale-Harris at SAWArchitecture. His specialty is helping clients achieve the best quality project within their budget through end-to-end project design and management so they are proud, confident and eager to have a greater impact on their communities.
Find Enock at SAWArchitecture.com
5. You will reinforce your identity.
The biggest transformation I saw was reinforcement of me driving the business rather than the day to day demands of the business driving me. The course has given me an opportunity to strip back what we’ve been doing, question and redefine with conviction. I feel there is a greater instilled belief in what we do and that needs to be practiced going forwards.
Justin Brown is the founder of Native North, a London-based architecture firm that helps passionate, ambitious homeowners create beautiful, livable spaces that reflect their individuality. Through intimate collaboration with their clients, they take care of the details to design innovative, contemporary spaces that evolve with their clients’ lives.
Find Justin at NativeNorth.co
If you’re seeking more accountability and structure to work on your firm, I will be running my 5-week signature program in early 2018. It helps you home in on your ideal client and turn your unique talents into offers, and then start sharing it with the people you want to work with.
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