Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Designers beware of… finances.

Money is involved in everything (Well, almost). Design is no exception. When it comes to design, you need to be aware of the costs you have when you're "designing" in order to be able to reduce them, to establish prices, to establish goals and to check if you're operation is actually bringing back some cash.

Along with costs, you need to be aware of your sales and how those are related to the costs you have. In order to "be aware" you need to measure, as my former boss used to say: "What you don't measure, you don't know". In order to measure, you need to establish some data collection, a database or some sort of system that will allow you to keep track of your projects, what went in, what came out. In the beginning I used to do this using File Maker, but a basic Excel table will do. You just need to be disciplined and enter the information rigorously.

So, in short:

- Set up a tracking system, not only to keep track of your design traffic, but to keep track of your costs and sales.

- Measure how much you're spending in the operation (Yes, including the coffee you drink).

- Measure how much you're selling.

- Establish some goals, like reducing costs and increasing sales.

- Follow up and review periodically, about once a week or twice a month.

If you're a flying solo designer, this operation is rather simple, though you may want to get some advice from an accountant or some finance professional.

If you're part of an in-house design department, you need to be aware of your operation and its performance related to the whole company. The finance department is usually happy to help.

If you have your own design studio, consider hiring a financial advisor, but don't leave all up to them, get involved.

All the best!

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