With 2010 quickly coming to an end, I’ve been thinking a lot about the upcoming year. Concluding my second (and a half year) year of running my own independent design business (full-time, anyways), I’m starting to think about my business, the things I feel I’ve done well, and what could be handled differently going into 2011. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been thinking and would enjoy hearing some of your reflections below as well.
Also, this will be the first edition of my reflections, starting with the ‘good and improved upon’ from 2009–2010. Will be following up with the ‘Need to Improve’ list in coming weeks.
The improved (at least I think so):
- Hire and worked with an accountant. Hiring an accountant has relieved a lot of pressure, especially when it comes down to tax season in a month or so. I report to him every quarter with my estimates and come the end of the year he handles the rest. I’m a believer and doing what you do best – money, taxes, and dealing with Uncle Sam is not one of them for me.
- Worked with more passionate clients. I try not to think of any client as a “bad” client, but when you get a passionate client you will know it. These are typically people that already have interest in our field (even though they are not designers), well-researched, open-minded, and–being that I work mostly on the web–love seeing the web and technology move forward. While it could be a complete coincidence of why I’ve worked with these types of clients, I like to think I owe a lot of it to my involvement in the design community with speaking, conference attending, writing and staying extremely current and understanding where the web is heading. Not only will it help you grow, learn, make great connections, but will help your work reach new heights and eyeballs. Simply, passionate clients want to work with passionate designers.
- Paid attention to the details. I’ve applied this mantra to many instances of my work and my business. For example, I’ve spend more time educating clients this year and also paid closer attention to the tiny details in my work that can take a good design to great – which also brings up my next point…
- Growth. I honestly am not sure if I will ever be fully happy with my work… and I’m alright with that in many ways. It helps me to grow. If you can look back on your work from the previous year and see improvement then you are doing something right. Since graduating college I’ve always made it a point to learn and keep learning as much as possible. I owe this to many great books, reading blogs / staying current, self-reflection, peer-reflection, and endless hours of design-thinking. Surrounding yourself and your thoughts into design as much as possible is a sure-shot outcome to grow.
- Kept organized. Keeping extremely organized will help save many (and I mean many) hours of which you can focus on more important things in your business. Here are a few tips on how I stay organized and efficient this year.
- Kept my head (and work) in the clouds. I’ve been using Dropbox for a few years now and in the past year I’ve finally upgraded to the 100GB plan, moved all my work files to the cloud, and work between my at home iMac and Macbook Pro when I work from various remote locations. No more remembering to sync before leaving the house; no more “which version is the latest;” Basically no more fuss and couldn’t imagine running my business without it.
- Added a Notebook. As much as I love reading and learning, it appears that many of you do as well. The Notebook section added in May’s redesign seems to be a huge hit and really excited that many of you have embraced it with open arms. I try my best to only post the highest, quality resources, thoughts and information and hope you enjoy it for years to come. It also helped me stay current with the industry and provoke more discussion and thoughts in my own head. Traffic to this site has also increased and I thank all of you for that.
- Shortened my emails. I can’t tell you how much time I spend in the past 2+ years of business answering emails. I’ve learned this year to write as little as possible and get directly to the point. Saved many hours this year.
- Focus. At the end of 2009, my goal was to drastically improve one area that I felt needed it the most, which for me was typography. I focused a lot of attention on learning more about the history of type design and typefaces and also the craft of good typography. Starting to think about a new focus for 2011.
- Attentive beyond the computer screen. Inspiration often does not come when you need it so I’ve found myself documenting the world around me more this year. My iPhone has been extremely handy in taking quick notes or snapping a quick photo of a color palette I enjoyed as I passed by. Collecting inspiration before and needing it later often ends in better results.
What are some things you’ve improved on from last year?