Episode 30: Q&A Session #3: Ask Us Anything

We’re back to our 3rd Q&A Session! These are so fun. You all ask great questions and this episode is no exception. Today we are diving into these 3 very important questions:

  1. The critical importance of business insurance
  2. How many projects is reasonable to take on at once
  3. Where to go for inspiration when your well is running dry

Let’s dive in!

Episode 30 Show Notes

Key Takeaways:

  • [3:38] When your well is running dry, where do you go for creative inspiration?
    • [5:17] Travel – whether you travel to a nearby town or state or even country, any time that you can get out of your daily routine, like by taking a different route to school or work, can start to build up your creative juices
    • [5:47] Visit art museums
    • [5:55] Go to beautifully designed restaurants
    • [6:00] Pillage through your magazine collection 
    • [6:03] Go to home tours
    • [6:09] Go to trade shows or even your local design center
    • [7:25] Working at a coffee shop with a nice cup of coffee and a muffin and the productive buzz of people around you can do wonders for creativity
    • [7:53] Try sitting in a beautiful hotel lobby, it can be fun! 
    • [8:35] If you have the time, book a night at a cute hotel. You can stay in and decompress but also try exploring the area and seeing some new sights
    • [11:55] Often times being too focused on the numbers or meeting deadlines and requirements can be a creative buzzkill. Make sure to give yourself enough time and space in the design process to look for those moments of creativity
    • [12:14] The thing with getting out of any dry spell is taking action. It can be tough to get over your inaction and actually go put on lipstick or change up your routine, but this is the stuff that matters because you need to give your brain blank space to let things happen
    • [13:38] Another thing to do is creating something with your hands or making art of any kind

  • [14:59] I’m curious about the number of projects that you have on the go at the same time and their scope. As I’m starting out, it’s difficult to know how much work is doable. I realize you have assistants and I’m solo right now, but I could factor that in if you could describe your ideal workload. [15:18] How do you schedule your client projects, meaning how many do you take on at a time?
    • [15:24] It is so easy to say yes, especially when you’re not busy and you’ve got leads
    • [16:09] One way to manage this is by creating a Gantt chart spreadsheet.
    • [16:32] In the spreadsheet, there are different color-coded blocks for each phases of design – onboarding, concept design, design development, implementation, post-occupancy
    • [17:02] The rows indicate the clients and then the columns indicate each week of the year 
    • [17:15] Any time you get a new client, input them into the spreadsheet to see where they fit within your other clients
    • [18:17] When you get a new client, you can visually see all the dates you already have booked for other clients and how it impacts your availability for the new project
    • [18:43] It’s important you tell your clients, especially if you are a small firm, that you do not do design development for more than one client at a time
    • [19:30] This also means that it might take longer but it shows clients that when their time comes, they have your undivided attention – all of your creative energy is going towards one project 
    • [20:09] Make sure that you’re setting key dates with your clients early and stick to them
    • [20:23] Don’t be afraid to show new clients your workload 
    • [21:04] If you can’t avoid having multiple projects at once, spread out the design process
    • [21:48] If spreading it out is still too unrealistic and you get a new project you really want to work on, another option is to charge them a non-refundable retainer to secure their place on your calendar
    • [24:44] If you’re solo, your maximum capacity is going to look different since you are doing everything by yourself without a team
    • [26:16] Don’t forget to take note in your spreadsheet of the significant periods of time where you’ll be away or on vacation
    • [28:47] Knowing when to use it is just as important as using it. You can include this spreadsheet in the front of your client binder when you do consultations so they will be aware of your schedule and workload

  • [29:42] What are your thoughts on insurance for a small firm just starting out where you are the only employee? Do you need insurance?
    • [31:10] Yes! It’s especially important when you’re just starting out because “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You will learn things the hard way and it might cost you money
    • [31:30] It’s a risky industry and there’s a lot of room for error – that’s why insurance is so important!
    • [31:37] That doesn’t mean that insurance will cover everything but it is still better to have one than none at all
    • [33:51] Two types of insurance worth looking into: general liability insurance and errors & omissions insurance (if you make a mistake or forget something, you can still be covered)
    • [34:43] Insurance is also fairly affordable. If you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to not have it
    • [35:46] Find really good attorney early on – somebody that you trust and can go to to ask questions
    • [36:06] Make sure you are hiring people or contractors with proof of insurance as well
    • [37:12] Being a sole proprietor makes you more at risk when something goes wrong
    • [37:24] An LLC (limited liability company) is the least we recommend in order to protect your personal belongings and assets
    • [37:40] When you are an LLC, your business becomes a separate entity from yourself

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