5 tips for founding your own design business

Brand Impact judge Sunita Yeomans has some great advice for setting out on your own.

Sunita Yeomans

Previously Head of Creative for Tesco's in-house creative team – which included over 60 graphic designers, art-directors, stylists, photographers, copywriters and creative managers – Sunita is co-founder & creative director at SSHY Creative.

Here the Brand Impact Awards judge shares the benefits of her experience of setting up her own business for those wishing to follow in her footsteps...

01. Adapt to survive

Everyone's dream of their own branding agency is different. If you are going to make a success of it, be really sure what you want and keep striving for it, but be prepared to modify your plans. Take your time, it won't happen overnight.

02. Don't delegate everything

For me, I wanted to be very hands on and definitely didn't want to delegate all the exciting projects to a big team. I also knew that where I worked was critical – I'd had enough of strip lighting and office desks – so I now work in converted stables, often outside in the sunshine and with a small team of freelancers when I need them.

03. Differentiate yourself

SSHY's approach is based on "artisan graphic design"

Most importantly I knew that I needed to offer a graphic design approach that was different from the competition. We have our unique approach now – artisan graphic design. You can't just make something like that up and hope it works – you need to really live and breathe it. We do, and that's why it works for us and for our clients.

The other thing is write it down – anyway you like – I do mind-maps in felt tip pens and keep referring back to them. I have different ones for various strategies ranging from marketing to staff to financials.

04. Prepare for the lows

Getting your business established is one of the hardest things to do – and means you'll hit what can seem like a never ending stream of low points.

Little things like people not responding to your emails, unsubscribing from your mailings or saying no to your invitations; and big things like investing lots of time and money to win a new client only for them to say "actually, no thanks".

Dealing with all of this stuff is not that difficult in theory, but it can take years of practice before it becomes second nature. The trick is to take responsibility for everything you do, and constantly analyse what you did and what you could have done differently to improve the outcome. The other thing is expect the lows because they will make the highs even better.

05. Enter awards, and study the winners

Awards celebrate the best in creative innovation, and are therefore a very effective method for predicting future trends. They are especially important in the branding sector as branding is so critical to the commercial success of many corporations and products.

Awards can be won by anyone from global design agencies to one-man-bands who work in their bedroom – it really is about the quality of the design thinking and crafting.

By studying the winners, commissioners of design can ensure they are supporting their agencies to create outstanding branding, and doers of design can ensure they are creating work that is either on-trend, or better still – ahead of the trend (depending who their client is).

Enter the 2015 Brand Impact Awards

On 9 July, Yeomans will be judging at Computer Arts' Brand Impact Awards 2015 – which celebrate the best branding across over 20 different market sectors – joining a stellar panel of talented creative directors at top agencies including GBH and The Partners.

The deadline is 18 June so get in your entry today!