Why do only some small businesses survive?

What I have learnt from a decade of working with small businesses

In over ten years as a graphic designer, I’ve worked with hundreds of small businesses. Some have stood the test of time, and others flopped within the first couple of years. I started noticing a trend with the ones who kept coming back to me, year after year, with stories of their success.

The secret is hidden in the stories. The businesses that stayed afloat, kept their loyal customers coming back, and sky-rocketing their turnover all had a pretty incredible story to tell.

They had built their empire from nothing.
They had undergone a tragedy which made them determined to be more.
They had risen as a female in a male dominated industry.
They had been let down by previous business partners and decided to go out on their own. They were a single parent.
They had started fresh after a marriage failure.

They all had a the same great down to earth kiwi humility despite their achievements, and they shared it with their customers. They let their customers get to know them, and that was the secret.

When your customer knows you, they start to trust you, and when you trust someone, paying their invoice stops being a bill, and rather becomes an exchange of good energy.

You don’t have to survive a tragedy to be successful in business. Your life story is equally dramatic and adventurous and made you who you are today. The difference is whether you choose to share it with your clients and how you choose to do so.

We can get caught up in thinking that being a professional means we can’t be personal. I like to think we can be both.

The most rewarding part of my work is helping clients translate their stories it into a strong brand and visual marketing materials. Never discredit the value of who you are, because there is no one quite like you.

small business

Before you hire a graphic designer, do this:

3 steps that will save you time and frustration

Hiring a graphic designer is exciting, because it means you’re at a stage in your business where you are ready to translate your ideas into marketable products.

Before you do, however, here are 3 practices that will save you time and frustration.

hiring a designer key one

Stop.  That’s right, to move forward, stop for a moment and sit with your idea. All successful clients that I’ve worked with have had their “ah ha” moment, during a moment of solitude, peace or vacation. It’s hard to be inspired when you are juggling 2 teenagers, employees, a renovation and what you are making for dinner.
Whether you mediate, walk in nature or visit the beach, take at least an hour out for yourself, with a pad and pen to note down anything that comes to mind about your project. Think about what you want your designer to achieve for you. Write down your values and ethics, your ideal customer, what defines a good design for you.

hiring a graphic designer key two

Know what you like. Take the time to research existing brands, but don’t labor over it. 2 or 3 examples to show your designer is plenty. Look up your competitors, and other brands, what you think works and what doesn’t. It will save you time and money if your designer can know from the beginning that you don’t like floral lace patterns, but love abstract watercolor and geometric shapes.

hiring a graphic designer key three

Be open minded, and ask for two concepts. If your budget and deadline allows, ask your designer to present you with two variations on your concept. You will be able to compare side by side, and will generally favor one over the other or, you will be able to point out the elements you like from each, for your designer to move forward and refine it.