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How did you start your design business? AMA with Chris Do

Chris shares the ups, downs, and everything in between.

Before there was The Futur, Chris started his own design business back in December of 1995 called Blind. He and his team specialized in motion graphics and produced commercials, music videos, video game trailers, and more, before repositioning as a brand strategy consultancy down the road.

In this video, Chris sits down with students from ArtCenter Business Club to answer their questions on how he started his design business. Chris goes in-depth regarding the creation of his creative agency, as well as some of the lessons he picked up along the way.

We’ll cover a few of them below.

The Connections You Make are Golden

When you’re in the early stages of starting your business, you’ll constantly ask yourself things like: where do I get clients? How do I generate revenue? What is a business plan? What do I need to do to make sure my business stays afloat?

Chris shares the value in having a network you can rely on, and making connections you can lean on for help. For example, when Chris was getting ready to start Blind, he had no idea how to prepare a business plan. He turned to his friend’s father, who was a lawyer at the time, and asked him for help.

Know that you don’t have to know everything right away. You don’t need to figure everything out on your own, either. Ask questions. Use the resources that are available to you. And don’t lose touch with the connections you make; they’re invaluable.

Reciprocity Goes a Long Way

Ever heard the expression, “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”? The same can be applied to building a roster of clients.

When you genuinely help people, or provide some sort of value to them, they’ll come back to you down the road. Either they’ll want to work with you, or refer you to someone who needs your services.

The Law of Attraction

What goes around, comes around. And the energy you send out into the world will come right back to you; especially when it comes to clients.

When you think about your ideal clients, consider what you need to do to get in front of them. Focus on the industries you’d like to work with, and the types of projects you’d want to work on. For example, if you want to do restaurant branding, but your portfolio is full motion graphics samples, you’re sending out the wrong message.

Be intentional with who you’d want to work with, and send out that beacon daily.

Don’t Be an Order Taker

Creatives all have one thing in common: their pride in their craft. While it’s great to show off your talents and capabilities, it’s not enough to separate yourself from the crowd. See, if you’re only focused on what you can produce, you’ll slowly start to position yourself as an order taker.

Clients often come to creative professionals thinking they know what they want. Maybe you’ve heard a potential client say to you, “Just build me a website,” or “my business needs a new logo.” If we were to take every client’s words at face value, we’d never deliver what they actually need.

It’s important for creatives to learn how to diagnose their client’s problems to prescribe an effective solution. It’s our job as the service providers to dig into the problem at hand, and use our talents as a way to not only eliminate the problem, but produce quantitative results.

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