Survive and thrive: 16 tips on building your business with design in mind #Microbizmattersday

Hi, I am Berenice and I run Hello Lovely, an award-winning, creative design company. I work with business owners, providing effective and efficient graphic design from branding, marketing, print and web. I have a postgraduate degree in graphic design and typography with over twenty years practical experience working with small businesses and FTSE 100 companies. 

I am a supporter of independent micro businesses as I run one myself and I challenged myself to give up large chains for an New Year challenge a few years back. I’m proud to be an #Indie25ER.

I am a coach too. I run the Walking Forward Inspirational Network for men and women who are childless not by choice and seeking a new direction. We focus on manageable goals and informal coaching to enable our community to cope with a different life than the one they may have planned.

Here are my tips to survive and thrive as a #Microbiz (with a lot of useful information about design!) 

  1. We can’t do everything. Allow some flexibility in the budgets to outsource what we can’t do, allows us time concentrate on what we are great at. Design is a good service to outsource. Clients can hand over all creative requirements or get more involved to reduce the costs.
  2. Learn from others. Networking and online courses can teach us so much but it can be tempting to learn everything! I suggest setting up a training plan against critical annual goals identifies what we need to know than what we'd like to know!
  3. Avoid pitching sites. Nobody can ethically walk into a counselling practice, spent time with several counsellors and only pays the one whose advice they liked the most. This scenario can be applied to any professional practice yet there are design sites that do this. It's very unlikely you'll find a professional designer there with original, untemplated work or develop a longstanding creative relationship as they are quick to dash to the next project to earn more as they make up costs from the pitches they spent valuable time on but didn't win.
  4. Money spent on a great design is worth a thousand hours on poor concepts for a low rate. Chat to the suppliers required and be open about budgets. I’m happy to chat money and work with my clients on a solution so they have a great, well researched piece of design at a price they can afford and a good relationship. 
  5. Do something each day that’s not the day job. I walk my dog or go to art classes. It gives me a proper ‘brain break’ and means I’m away from my emails.
  6. Designers, copywriters, photographer, editors and proofreaders are also clients and we will judge the quality of a business based on what we know. Short cuts taken in these areas may turn professionals away from businesses.
  7. Beware of visual litter. A book I designed for university students for the UK market included a photo of a washing machine with the caption 'washing machine'. It wasn't necessary and was dumbing down the audience.
  8. Designers are happy to sense check an idea for a smaller fee. If the money is really short but the appearance is all, then putting a file together as a brief and asking a designer to polish or review is a solution.
  9. The correct word for the size of a font is 'point', the lowest number of 4 being the smallest size. 
  10. Incidentally whilst we’re on typography, squeezing the kerning and leading, doesn’t always make a good design. Just like humans, type needs to breath.
  11. Apps do not make designers, just as Word doesn't make editors, but paying attention to legibility is a good start. There is no point publishing something which cannot be read.
  12. Branding is critical in the first years of business. Delivered well, a good brand structure can give support to staff on many areas including tone of voice, logo and how a business appears in social media.
  13. A logo should be created to work in colour, mono, portrait and landscape and in print, digital and web. Anything that isn’t, query with the creator.
  14. Use both sides of a business card. It’s an incredibly low cost and effective way to share more details and get creative with that little bit of card. Exploit digital printing technology and print multiple designs on one side, maybe include some top tips.
  15. Print isn’t dead. Not paying attention to the environment however is very dead. Thinking creatively about print not only gets more impact for the budget, it's great for the planet. The best place to start is with an independent printer and a great designer. 
  16. Designers make a difference to print and web design. We know the difference between the file types and we can check for errors that will stop products being delivered on time. 

To find out more about Microbiz Matters Day check out the website here