84 top tips for studio success

Want to make your studio stand out from the rest? Take some top advice from those who have done just that

Part one: Starting out

01 GOOD SKIP HUNTING
Bob Gray
Design Director
Red&Grey Design
www.redandgreydesign.ie

"When you're setting up a studio, designer furniture is not a priority," says Red&Grey's Bob Gray. "Our tables and chairs all came from a skip outside a major telephone company that was rebranding. If we were starting out now, we would look out for liquidation sales and office closures."

02 TAKE THE PLUNGE
Nick Nettleton
Director
Loft Digital
www.loftdigital.com
Essentials like renting out work space and hiring new people - they're big financial commitments, and they're always terrifying in advance. For Nick Nettleton, these are psychological barriers - you just have to take the plunge. "Once you're on the other side, you wonder what all the fuss was about," he says.

03 GET A BIG TABLE
Nat Hunter
Director and co-founder
Airside
www.airside.co.uk
Communal spaces offer many opportunities to pool your talents and bounce ideas around, so it makes sense to capitalise on this rather than just giving fate a free hand. Nat Hunter's office must-have? "A big table for everyone to eat lunch together."

04 THE RIGHT STUFF
Adam Jenns
Founder and MD
Mainframe
www.mainframe.co.uk
"Don't bother starting a studio if you don't have the intention of being the best." Adam Jenns challenges you to succeed with any other attitude. "Few people ever get there," he adds. "But if you don't start out with that intention you'll get lost in a sea of oneman bands with novel company names."

05 THE BEST POLICY
Russell Townsend
Managing Director
Clusta
www.clusta.com
It's very tempting to believe your own hype, and design is certainly a business that demands a little esprit de corps. But that's not a sound footing, says Russell Townsend: "Firstly, don't kid yourself, and secondly never kid the people that make your studio work - your clients, staff, suppliers, bank manager and the tax man. They make your world go round."

06 CREATE A WEBSITE
Chris Brand
Founder
Christopher Brand
www.christopher-brand.com
According to Chris Brand, putting up a website was one of the best things he ever did. "It's the easiest way to show people your work," he says. Making sure you have the right domain name is a good idea too. Keep things as simple as possible to use, and choose a name that's easy to remember.

07 SPACE CONTROL
Josie Harold
Managing Director
Dirty Design
www.dirtydesign.co.uk
Think about how you would like your space to work for you long term, and what works best for the business. You might want to work in an open-plan space all together with music, laughter and fun. "However, you need to think how that will work when you've got phone calls to make or you're trying to write a brief - or have clients in," says Dirty Design's Josie Harold.

08 WORK IS WORK, HOME IS HOME
Sean Freeman
Founder
There Is
www.thereis.co.uk
Working from his bedroom day in day out gave Sean Freeman a nasty bout of cabin fever that only wore off once he found a desk in a shared space. "Now, when I get home, it's home," he says. "Plus, it's totally tax deductible, so in a roundabout way I kind of look at my desk space as paying tax."

09 FIND SOME NATURAL LIGHT
Russell Townsend
Managing Director
Clusta
www.clusta.com
Everyone wants a fancy studio with a hot tub and pool table, but do you really need it? There are larger priorities, says Russell Townsend. "Make sure you have a suitable environment with good natural light and good security, and that it's somewhere you are happy to be spend a lot of time in (because you will)."

10 FUTURE-PROOF YOURSELF
Tom Skipp
Founder
Tom Skipp
www.tomskipp.com
It's true that you get what you pay for, and since a designer's main tool is his or her computer, it pays to get the best you can afford. "As a freelancer, I'm always on my MacBook Pro, which I find sufficient - even for artworking," says Tom Skipp. "And I have recently subscribed to the iPhone generation, which means that I can respond to people immediately. It's essential to appear available at all times for clients."

11 TAKE SOME RISKS
Adam Jenns
Founder and MD
Mainframe
www.mainframe.co.uk
Logic and restraint are not always your best friends. They can lead to piecemeal decisions and compromise. "If you don't take risks you'll stay a one-man band forever," says Adam Jenns. "I rented a big studio very early in Mainframe's life, and it seemed to fill itself."

12 LIVE THE DREAM
Josie Harold
Managing Director
Dirty Design
www.dirtydesign.co.uk
"Think carefully about what you want from your office space," warns Josie Harold. "The quirky older building that feels really individual and is cheaper than more traditional office space might seem perfect, but trust me, with no double-glazing the heating bills won't be. And if you buy flatpack desks from IKEA, plan in three days to build them!"

13 SPACE IS THEORETICAL
Glenn Garriock
Creative Director at Atelier 1A and co-founder of FormFiftyFive
www.atelier1a.com
Working alone isn't ideal. "Simply the process of explaining an idea to someone else helps me to figure out if it makes sense or not," says Glenn Garriock. However, you don't have to be isolated even if you are physically alone: "With a little help from modern technology you can share ideas and thoughts with colleagues and friends, regardless of where you work."

14 PRACTICAL MATTERS
Aurelia Lange
Founder
Aurelia Lange
www.aurelialange.co.uk www.studio-weekend.co.uk
Aurelia Lange has some brilliantly practical advice: "Setting up in the summer gives you a head start on heating bills!" After that, just research all your expenses thoroughly - public liability, insurance, rates and such. "Business Link is a great resource for advice on all of this: www.businesslink.gov.uk."

15 SENSIBLE SOFTWARE
Russell Townsend
Managing Director
Clusta
www.clusta.com
These days the specs on mid-level machines are fine for all but the most demanding of applications. "So be sensible about software and, in particular, hardware," says Russell Townsend. "Assess what you really need. Video and moving images are far more demanding than design for print."

16 GOTTA HAVE A SYSTEM
Glenn Garriock
Creative Director at Atelier 1A and co-founder of FormFiftyFive
www.atelier1a.com
Without a decent system to help you find older files (real as well as digital) you are just increasing your workload. Glenn Garriock's big on filing systems for exactly this reason. "Having a methodical filing system will spare you a lot of rummaging around," he says. "You never know when one of your older files or documents could come in handy to sort out a misunderstanding, or help you with your final billing."

17 LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Aurelia Lange
Founder
Aurelia Lange
www.aurelialange.co.uk www.studio-weekend.co.uk
Location is king, ask any estate agent. So check out the area you're thinking of setting up in thoroughly. "How accessible are the nearest supply shops? What about banks and nice pubs to meet clients? Is there parking?" asks Aurelia Lange. And finally, how accessible are your premises? Is it 24/7? If not, how will you manage all those late nights?

18 BACK UP!
Glenn Garriock
Creative Director at Atelier 1A and co-founder of FormFiftyFive
www.atelier1a.com
"Back everything up!" says Glenn Garriock. This doesn't have to be expensive. You can pick up a one terrabyte external hard drive for less then £100 these days, on which you can create a bootable carbon copy of your main hard drive. "Couple this with an online back-up service such as Backblaze or CrashPlan and you should be sorted."

19 HOME FROM HOME
Aurelia Lange
Founder
Aurelia Lange
www.aurelialange.co.uk www.studio-weekend.co.uk
You'll be spending quite a bit of time in your studio, so make it your own. "You should create an environment that you want to spend time in," says Aurelia Lange. "Invest in some good speakers, a comfortable chair, a kettle and some chocolate biscuits!"

20 USE SOME SHOE LEATHER
Bob Gray
Design Director
Red&Grey Design
www.redandgreydesign.ie
Searching the web for studio space may have the advantage of speed, but you won't be getting there via the internet superhighway. It's best to get out there and walk around until you find somewhere you like. "This is a much better way to get a feel for an area, and you can also find some hidden gems that don't appear on larger estate agent websites," says Bob Gray.

21 UPDATE YOURSELF
Daniel Baer
Founder
Studio Baer
www.danielbaer.co.uk
Keep your website up to date. "Our site is updated each quarter with new projects," says Daniel Baer. "We adapt the studio portfolio for every client meeting in order to focus on specific areas of interest." If you're small, you're nimble. Make the most of that.


Part two: Build a team

01 TO GROW OR NOT TO GROW?
David Smith
Principal
Atelier David Smith
www.atelier.ie
Do you really want to expand? Not everyone does. "There can be a massive pressure to grow if you meet with even a modest amount of success," says David Smith. "I want to design, and I know that if I went through a huge growth cycle I would be taken away from that on a day-to-day basis."

02 TRY COLLABORATING
Bob Gray
Design Director
Red&Grey Design
www.redandgreydesign.ie
Try to only work with the best copywriters, illustrators, photographers and printers. "However, your most important collaborator is always your client," says Bob Gray. Listen to them, gain as much knowledge as you can about their organisation and endeavour to move them forward.

03 MAINTAIN THAT PERSONALITY
Nick Nettleton
Director
Loft Digital
www.loftdigital.com
"Every company has a personality, and you need people who round off your corners, fill in your gaps and enhance your best assets," says Nick Nettleton. "You need people who can get on board with your vision, who you trust with your livelihood and, of course, whose company you enjoy."

04 BUILD YOURSELF, THEN A TEAM
Dustin Edward Arnold
Art Director
Dustin Arnold
www.dustinarnold.com
"A lone designer can take a position so focused and aggressive as to eliminate competition within their own unique niche," says Arnold. Once that reputation is established you can expand your focus and hire production staff. "The aesthetic will evolve, but the individual reputation you garnished will always serve as a point of differentiation in the mind of prospective clients."

05 TREAT 'EM RIGHT
Adam Jenns
Founder and MD
Mainframe
www.mainframe.co.uk
At Mainframe, people come first. "Treating our staff well has been the secret of our success," says Adam Jenns. "We've got several top designers that have been with us for five-plus years, which is relatively unheard of. Our clients like that stability."

06 WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT
Peter Donohoe
Partner/founder
Peter and Paul
www.peterandpaul.co.uk
Employing people just to service a new client without any long-term view is common. Try to avoid this scenario, as it has the potential to make everyone involved unhappy in the long run. "You'll know when you need staff," says Peter Donohoe. "Try to take a measured view - it's very easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and assume you need someone."

07 EXPANSION SHOULD BE NATURAL
Josie Harold
Managing Director
Dirty Design
www.dirtydesign.co.uk
"If you have too much work on for you or your current team to handle, but you can't afford to add to your team, then you're doing something wrong," observes Dirty Design's Josie Harold. Our advice? Find out what that is before taking your next step.

08 KEEP IT FLEXIBLE
Glenn Garriock
Creative Director at Atelier 1A and co-founder of FormFiftyFive
www.atelier1a.com
In terms of building a team, there's many advantages to developing a network of contacts rather than a static full-time team. "We work with talented people around the globe if and when the project requires it," Glenn Garriock reveals. "This means that we have the flexibility to work on more personal projects without having to let anyone go."

09 RECOGNISE POTENTIAL
Bob Gray
Design Director
Red&Grey Design
www.redandgreydesign.ie
Probably the most important thing when dealing with either an intern or employee is to make sure that they reach their full potential. "Don't be afraid to tell them how well (or badly) they are doing and how valuable they have become to the studio," advises Bob Gray. "This will boost their confidence and in turn make for a better working environment for everybody."

10 BETTER THAN YOU? OR DIFFERENT?
Peter Donohoe
Partner/founder
Peter and Paul
www.peterandpaul.co.uk
Always look to employ people better than yourself, or at least people who have different skill sets to you. "At Peter and Paul we avoid agencies, and always look for people with good ideas - thinkers over people that are technically good," says Peter Donohoe. Ideas are harder to come by than work that's dictated by current trends or styles.

11 INTERN ORGANICS
Nick Nettleton
Director
Loft Digital
www.loftdigital.com
Whether a new employee is going to 'fit' is almost impossible to judge from an interview, so Loft Digital has evolved more organically. "We seem to have more success with people who start in an intern or freelance role," says Nick Nettleton. "If everyone's enjoying it and business is going well then things seem to take their natural course."

12 WHEN TO OFFER A PLACEMENT
Aurelia Lange
Founder
Aurelia Lange
www.aurelialange.co.uk www.studio-weekend.co.uk
"Placements are great when there is a project that you can see benefiting from an extra pair of hands," says Aurelia Lange. But it has to be an engaging project to work on at the same time.

13 THINK ABOUT DYNAMICS
Daniel Baer
Founder
Studio Baer
www.danielbaer.co.uk
"I like to work with people who I would happily go for dinner and have an interesting conversation with," says Daniel Baer. "Working relationships should not just revolve around design and studio work. A good team dynamic will help to take the work further."

14 NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
Tom Skipp
Founder
Tom Skipp
www.tomskipp.com
Even if you are the only person in your studio, you still rely on the team of professionals you're connected to. "As an individual, relationships with potential clients and facilities houses become very important," says Tom Skipp. "Finding a trustworthy printer that can create the finish and standard you require is imperative."

15 THE TWO MAIN ROLES
James Glover
Creative director
Fluid
www.fluidesign.co.uk
When starting out, there are two main roles that need to be filled: client-facing and studio-based. These need to be clearly established to avoid any serious fumbling of live projects. "Often the creative director generates new business, pitches and oversees the creative process," says James Glover. The project and office management side of things requires an ordered mind.

16 FILL THE RIGHT POSITION
Peter Donohoe
Partner/founder
Peter and Paul
www.peterandpaul.co.uk
If you're a small, busy studio, interns can be incredibly difficult to manage and incredibly frustrating to work with if you're not organised and expectation isn't managed. Don't do it if you don't have the time. Similarly, says Peter Donohoe, "Consider that you may not be the best person to manage your business or do business development." Make sure you delegate the right jobs.

17 THINK LONG TERM
Josie Harold
Managing Director
Dirty Design
www.dirtydesign.co.uk
When you're expanding your team, make sure you're looking at the long term and not just filling a short-term gap. "Anyone new needs to be able to pick up overflow and have the capacity to do more for the business," says Josie Harold. It's no good taking on a full-time 3D expert if you've only ever had one 3D job.

18 GOOD PEOPLE ARE RARE
Matt Beardsell
Founder/partner
Music
www.designbymusic.com
You need to treat your search for talent as you do the rest of your business. "Make the most of opportunities as they come along," says Matt Beardsell. "Really good people are rare - they come along every 18 months or so." If you've got your feelers out all the time, you can grab people when you encounter them. "I think the person comes before the work," Beardsell admits. "We've never advertised."

19 IT'S THE LAW
Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook
Co-founders
Unit Editions
www.uniteditions.com
"No matter how good your intentions, how spotless your record or the quality of fun you have with your team, a proper contract of employment is not something you can afford to gloss over. They protect both employer and employee and reduce the likelihood of disputes and disagreements."

20 SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE
Frdric Vanhorenbeke
Creative Director
Coast
www.coastdesign.be
Look for the social intelligence first, advises Frdric Vanhorenbeke. Creativity, proactivity, energy, typographic genius. These are all elements anyone you want to employ should have. But it's essential that new employees get on with the rest of the team. "Imagine someone not in the mood for talking, not in the mood for socialising in your studio. It's negative energy: something you absolutely need to avoid."

21 STRENGTH THROUGH DIVERSITY
James Glover
Creative Director
Fluid
www.fluidesign.co.uk
The designers at Fluid come from different backgrounds, have different skills, inspirations and styles. None of this is an accident. "We never wanted to have a 'house style' as such, so the different approaches to projects make for individual and exciting results every time," says James Glover.


Part three: Winning work

01 IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET
Bob Gray
Design Director
Red&Grey Design
www.redandgreydesign.ie
"When we started our studio we made a list of all the clients that interested us," recalls Bob Gray. Not having a huge folio, a new tactic was required: "We created three topical postcards illustrating our sense of fun and our understanding of contemporary design." Once you get in front of somebody you can go for the hard sell, until then all you want is a moment of their time.

02 USE WORD OF MOUTH
Nick Nettleton
Director
Loft Digital
www.loftdigital.com
The first step towards winning work is for people to know you exist. "Make sure you're talking to lots of people about what you do," says Nick Nettleton. Then, make sure you always do a sterling job. "With any luck, you will start getting people calling you off the back of recommendations, and that's a much better position to start a pitch from."

03 THE ICE BREAKER
Dustin Edward Arnold
Art Director
Dustin Arnold
www.dustinarnold.com
Everyone likes to think they've got an expert on their side, and to be seen as an expert you must narrow your scope. "A jack of all trades is seen as a master of none," shrugs Arnold. Build your reputation within that focused area: "Once the ice has been broken, expand your capacity and take on more diverse projects."

04 THREE FOR FREE
Nat Hunter
Director and co-founder
Airside
www.airside.co.uk
"Always ask for a pitch fee," Airside's Nat Hunter advises - even if none is offered and pitching for free is, unfortunately, a design industry standard. Try and weigh up your chances of winning before agreeing to a free pitch. "Our rule is not to do free pitches if we are competing with more than three other companies."

05 MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN
Rob Gonzalez
Co-founder
Sawdust
www.madebysawdust.co.uk
Never feel intimidated by pitches. After all, the client is in need of your help. Even if you don't win, try to give the client something to think about. "In the end, it's another person who knows you exist, helping to raise your industry presence and reputation," says Rob Gonzalez. "You may even be asked to pitch again."

06 PRIDE COMES BEFORE A...
Adam Jenns
Founder and MD
Mainframe
www.mainframe.co.uk
A little humility can go a really long way. It's essential that you love your work and are confident selling yourself to clients, but be careful this doesn't go too far. "If you win a big job and become arrogant, you'll see yourself taking a fall pretty soon," warns Adam Jenns.

07 SELL AN APPROACH
Peter Donohoe
Partner/founder
Peter and Paul
www.peterandpaul.co.uk
You have a choice about defining your portfolio. According to Peter Donohoe, the first option is to offer a specific design style, so that clients know exactly what they're getting up front. "Alternatively, you sell an approach, process or philosophy, which in our case means every project looks completely different."

08 AVOID COLD CALLING
Josie Harold
Managing Director
Dirty Design
www.dirtydesign.co.uk
Don't feel yourself forced down traditional "new business" routes. Find something that works for you. "The important thing is to continually try to develop your business, not make 20 cold calls a day," says Josie Harold. With time you'll discover your most natural approach, because it'll be the one that works best.

09 EDIT YOURSELF
Bob Gray
Design Director
Red&Grey Design
www.redandgreydesign.ie
Learn to edit your work and presentations. "What you take out is as important as what you leave in," says Bob Gray. His advice? "Customise each presentation towards your prospective client. And if you're tendering for work, having an award or two under your belt works wonders."

10 DON'T COMPETE, COOPERATE
Aurelia Lange
Founder
Aurelia Lange
www.aurelialange.co.uk www.studio-weekend.co.uk
Sometimes, working alongside other design companies is better than trying to compete against them. "We have screen-printed for other design companies a few times," says Aurelia Lange. "It's great to work with people who have a complete understanding of what you do - unlike a surprising amount of clients!"

11 BE AGGRESSIVE
Chris Brand
Founder
Christopher Brand
www.christopher-brand.com
In Chris Brand's experience, young designers who are trying to win new work really need to be aggressive go-getters. "Nobody is going to come knocking down your door," he observes. Chances are that most people won't know who you are, so you will have to try and get their attention, and make them aware of you. "Start by getting in touch with the people that you admire."

12 BE PREPARED
Nick Nettleton
Director
Loft Digital
www.loftdigital.com
Inevitably designers spend a lot of time preparing for pitches. "Our aim is always to have a sleeve full of fun and varied ideas for a prospective client," says Nick Nettleton. The idea isn't to deliver a load of free design, because that would undermine the whole process, but you do need to break the ice. "There's nothing worse than getting bored in a pitch."

13 GET SOME FEEDBACK
Peter Donohoe
Partner/founder
Peter and Paul
www.peterandpaul.co.uk
Always get feedback from clients where possible. This gives you leads on how to improve your service, and tells you what people appreciate most. It also builds a relationship. "Always ask questions that go beyond the commission," says Peter Donohoe. "This may lead to more work, or a more effective use of budgets."

14 PROMOTIONS vs COMMUNICATIONS
Dustin Edward Arnold
Art Director
Dustin Arnold
www.dustinarnold.com
"People love receiving direct mail so much that they call it junk," says Dustin Edward Arnold. He has a point. "Mass anything falls flat for the same reason that makes it popular: it's easy." Easy means cheap, and your clients know it. You are a focused boutique agency, so make the effort to create client-focused boutique communications.

15 MAKE FRIENDS
Sean Freeman
Founder
There Is
www.thereis.co.uk
Whether it's by emailing people whose work you admire, or attending shows and "bumping into them", it's really important to network. "I'm good friends with Craig Ward, for instance, and it was through my ridiculous plaguing of his inbox and constantly sending him stuff that we became good friends," says Sean Freeman. "His advice and general 'door-opening' has been invaluable."

16 INJECT SOME PERSONALITY
Rob Gonzalez
Co-founder
Sawdust
www.madebysawdust.co.uk
Add your personality and methods to the work you do. "We feel this is very important," says Sawdust's Rob Gonzalez. If a client has contacted you to pitch or work with them, it's usually because they have seen some of your work that they like. "Ask them, 'Is there anything in particular about our work that encouraged you to approach us?'" Learn from every situation.

17 PICK UP THE PHONE
Matt Beardsell
Founder/partner
Music
www.designbymusic.com
Pick up the phone, speak to people and make them feel loved. As Matt Beardsell so rightly observes, "Clients have hard jobs, just like you. If you take an interest in them and their business, the work will show up." You have to manage relationships with clients who aren't spending money.

18 KEEP A HIGH PROFILE
James Glover
Creative Director
Fluid
www.fluidesign.co.uk
Make sure you have a strong presence, online and offline. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn or Behance will get your work out there and are a great place to make connections with people who would otherwise be hard to meet. "Don't underestimate the benefits of attending events such as design festivals, lectures and trade fairs relevant to your sector," James Glover advises.

19 THINK OUTSIDE THE BRIEF
Aurelia Lange
Founder
Aurelia Lange
www.aurelialange.co.uk www.studio-weekend.co.uk
Be on the look-out for ways to offer something more to your client. "Have the confidence to suggest something outside of the brief," says Aurelia Lange. "Meet the brief and then push it further with how the project can be applied to other medias or seen differently." This approach will work best if you have a thorough understanding of your client and their individual needs.

20 SOME YOU WIN...
Sean Freeman
Founder
There Is
www.thereis.co.uk
Sean Freeman recently pitched for a job against another illustrator. "I went all out for three days solid and didn't get it," he admits. What made this OK was the fact that Sean had allocated that amount of time, and no more. "Had I won the job it would have been amazing, but sadly you win some, you lose some. That's important to remember."

21 (DON'T) PROMISE THE WORLD
Josie Harold
Managing Director
Dirty Design
www.dirtydesign.co.uk
When you're pitching for new work, just be yourself and try not to promise the world. Your best and most rewarding client relationships will come from mutual respect and understanding. Josie Harold has it spot on when she points out that, "Promising you can deliver something that you can't isn't going to form the start of a beautiful relationship."


Part four: Be more efficient

01 HAGGLE!
Bob Gray
Design Director
Red&Grey Design
www.redandgreydesign.ie
Red&Grey set up shop just after the dot.com bubble had burst. "There were positive and negative aspects to this," Bob Gray recalls. Studio space was abundant and cheap, but clients were less willing to part with their money. "Make sure you bargain over your lease terms - your landlord needs to rent the space more than you need to move into it."

02 MANAGE THE PAPERWORK
Nick Nettleton
Director
Loft Digital
www.loftdigital.com
Nick Nettleton knows where his strengths lie, and it's not in admin. "I would recommend getting a book-keeper to sort out all your receipts, invoices, accounts, filing and chasing payments from day one," he says. Profit and cashflow, on the other hand, you do need to keep your eye on .

03 GET GHETTO
Dustin Edward Arnold
Art Director
Dustin Arnold
www.dustinarnold.com
Low overheads allow you to pursue iconic projects that will build your studio's identity in the long term. "Come to an agreement with your partners on what you want to achieve before upscaling your studio. Reach it and reward yourselves," says Arnold.

04 THE MEASURE OF VALUE
Nat Hunter
Director and co-founder
Airside
www.airside.co.uk
As a professional, you need to learn the value of your own time. Sure, it's your talent that will elevate a piece of work from ordinary to great, but as Nat Hunter says: "Talent is hard to measure." The design industry's standard measure is time. "Talent is expressed in cost per hour, so remember your hours are worth money."

05 CONTROL THE CASHFLOW
Russell Townsend
Managing Director
Clusta
www.clusta.com
"Cashflow is king," says Clusta's Russell Townsend. "It allows you to do all the things you want to do." Make sure you pay bills, PAYE, VAT and tax on time, because if things ever get hard and you have a good history people are more likely to try and help. But by the same token, don't be a martyr - make sure you get paid, too, or you will resent your choices and may lose the motivation.

06 NOTHING IS FREE
Peter Donohoe
Partner/founder
Peter and Paul
www.peterandpaul.co.uk
"Don't ever work for free unless it's for friends, charity or you have a contract/agreement in place to get paid at a later date," says Peter Donohoe. You'll need a bit of backbone, particularly during tough times, but it keeps you out of a grey area that can rapidly deteriorate. "Contra deals rarely work and can become messy, so charge for each other's time respectively."

07 AVOID FALSE ECONOMIES
Josie Harold
Managing Director
Dirty Design
www.dirtydesign.co.uk
Josie Harold cautions against scrimping on the important things when you're setting up the structure of the business. For example, finding a really cheap accountant that costs you next to nothing when you're not making any money feels great. "However, being landed with a whopping tax bill when you have started to make some money isn't so great," she says. Budget properly for the services you need.

08 BUSINESS PLANS ARE GOOD
Bob Gray
Design Director
Red&Grey Design
www.redandgreydesign.ie
Despite having gained valuable experience at studios in Dublin, Amsterdam and New York, the founders of Red&Grey design had not learned how to set up a business plan. "Get help here," advises Bob Gray. "Our business plan was straight out of a Disney movie. Try to find a family member or friend to help and offer them design work as payment."

09 CHASE MONEY POLITELY
Sean Freeman
Founder
There Is
www.thereis.co.uk
Some clients pay on time and are lovely, some need a little persuasion to part with their cash. Sean Freeman has found that extreme politeness is often the best tool in the box for this situation. "Constantly charming emails usually get the money flowing," he says. "Though it's hard to be charming five months after they sign the work off, which is my record by the way!"

10 STREAMLINE YOUR WORKFLOW
Russell Townsend
Managing Director
Clusta
www.clusta.com
You probably sell time, so make sure it's monitored accurately and analyse it later to try and find efficiencies wherever you can. "Invest in or code a system for recording time, because it's much easier than using manual time sheets," says Russell Townsend. "It's surprising how much time is wasted if simple processes aren't streamlined."

11 UNDER PROMISE, OVER DELIVER
Glenn Garriock
Creative director at Atelier 1A and co-founder of FormFiftyFive
www.atelier1a.com
Having worked up a brief for the client to approve, Glenn Garriock recommends developing a time-plan that takes everything the job might require into account. From this plan the client and the designer both know which dates and targets they're working towards. "I find it best to plan in a little extra time if the deadline allows this," Garriock adds. "It's always better to finish early or on time, than past the deadline."

12 WORKING WITH SMALLER BUDGETS
Daniel Baer
Founder
Studio Baer
www.danielbaer.co.uk
Before taking on a job with little or no budget, ask yourself where the project will take you. "These projects can often be very creatively rewarding," says Daniel Baer. That can be enough in some cases, but you need to make sure you're getting the credit you deserve, in the form of greater visibility and the possibility of some well-paid work.

13 TERMS AND REMINDERS
Jonathan Quainton
Co-founder
Sawdust
www.madebysawdust.co.uk
Invoicing can be time consuming - especially chasing payments. You should always make your invoices clear and direct, stating your payment terms. "Always phone to make sure the invoice has been received," says Quainton. "And chase up after 25 days. In my experience, most clients will leave it until reminded."

14 GET THINGS IN PROPORTION
Aurelia Lange
Founder
Aurelia Lange
www.aurelialange.co.uk www.studio-weekend.co.uk
"For smaller projects with smaller budgets, try and work towards shorter deadlines appropriate to how much you are getting paid for them," says Aurelia Lange. This advice is simple common sense, but far too often overlooked - particularly given that those jobs probably involve a degree more freedom and significantly less pressure. You have been warned.

15 CROSS-SUBSIDISING
Peter Donohoe
Partner/founder
Peter and Paul
www.peterandpaul.co.uk
It's important to understand that making money allows you to be creative with other less profitable projects and personal work, so don't be afraid of charging for your services. "It's obvious really," Peter Donohoe admits, "but I've had designers make the mistake of feeling that they are somehow cheating the client if we add a mark-up on print and production."

16 BIG PICTURE TIME
Matt Beardsell
Founder/partner
Music
www.designbymusic.com
"The two most important hours of the week are the two hours I spend with the other partners at an early meeting," says Matt Beardsell. Matt, Dave and Ant tend to meet once a week for breakfast. "We go through the work and talk about how things are going. It ensures we're all on the same page. It's important to get some distance and look back at what you're trying to achieve."

17 ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
Glenn Garriock
Creative Director at Atelier 1A and co-founder of FormFiftyFive
www.atelier1a.com
It may be a terrific resource, but the internet can also be a huge source of distraction. Email, Twitter, RSS feeds, blogs... "It's wise to minimise these distractions by making it as difficult as possible for yourself to access them," recommends Glenn Garriock. "My good friend Chris Gray at TOY has taken all his online applications out of his dock to stop them tempting him."

18 EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION
David Smith
Principal
Atelier David Smith
www.atelier.ie
Deciding that you're unwilling to compromise your creative principles requires that you have a fallback option. "We've always combined our practice with education," says Smith. "Teaching was our fuck-off money. It meant that we could afford to be somewhat idealistic about what we wanted to do."

19 STAGED PAYMENTS
Adrian Shaughnessy
Co-founder
Unit Editions
www.uniteditions.com
Although the usual way of going about things is to invoice a client once the job has been completed, this can put undue strains on the finances of a small design studio. "It's good practice to ask for staged payments," says Adrian Shaughnessy. "Most clients will agree to a polite request. If they refuse, you can be justifiably wary of their ability and willingness to honour their debts."

20 BREAK TIME!
Josie Harold
Managing Director
Dirty Design
www.dirtydesign.co.uk
The early days of any business can be extremely hectic, with long hours and little sleep. But it's important to keep some perspective. "Don't feel guilty about taking a break," says Josie Harold. "You need to learn to switch off sometimes. Plus, you'll work more effectively after a break, so don't feel guilty when you do." Driving yourself into the ground helps no-one.

21 SETTING RATES THAT WORK
Jonathan Quainton
Co-founder
Sawdust
www.madebysawdust.co.uk
"It's very tricky to establish how much you should be charging on jobs when you're a new outfit," admits Jonathan Quainton. "There will be lots of experimentation with rates until you can find a good balance of making money and staying competitive." However, it quickly becomes apparent how important it is to create your own set of rules that you can enforce internally and externally.