Book Review: The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business

Mike Grill // October 26, 2017

As part of being a web services company, we at Businesstastic have to keep a varied, generalist approach to how we do business. We work with both developers and designers so we have to keep both left and right brain engaged, always looking for ways to keep these two seemingly opposites in balance. Cameron Foote’s The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business is a book that helps not only balance those competing ideas, but it helps to form ways in which to grow both personas.


The Creative Business Guide

The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business is a bit like a textbook. It is dense, it is full of detailed facts, and it is an excellent reference for anyone looking to set up a graphic design business. Beginning with a business plan and walking through seemingly every possible option and detail you might encounter when setting up your design business, Foote covers everything from lots of different angles.


Admittedly, this is not a coffee table book or a light read, but if you are interested in setting up a design business, then you should take a look at The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business.


Running a Graphic Design Business

One of the best bits of wisdom – it resonated throughout our week and is still popping up everywhere – came when Foote talks about positioning and adopting technology early. He brings up the adage that “the early pioneers took most of the arrows, but the early settlers took most of the land.” It can be extremely tempting to pursue the latest and greatest as a technology related firm. We get all sorts of emails from companies asking us to be part of a pre-launch or to distribute their software to our clients for beta testing, or you name it. And some of them seem extremely appealing, but we try to never use any of our clients for a first run, untested bit of technology. Our clients don’t use us expecting to be experimented with, they use us for dependability, reliability, and cutting edge technology, not bleeding edge technology.


With design or creative business, it can be extremely tempting to be in that first wave of early adopters – to be able to say that you have successfully been using a product or piece of tech for a while now, sometimes it’s a point of pride, sometimes it can be a valuable selling point. But, like Foote mentions “the early pioneers took most of the arrows” and we don’t want to use our clients as shields.

The other issue Foote raises is the point about specializing versus generalizing. It is a constant discussion in our line of work and one that should never go away. It is a question that you should constantly be asking yourself in business and one that you can always change your mind on. If specialization is not working out for you, then you can always take a step back and generalize, or vice versa. In fact, if you start to jump from specialization to specialization, you become a generalist by trade.

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