Dedication of Entrepreneurs VS Work Availability

Dedication of Entrepreneurs VS Work Availability

So as business owners and entrepreneurs, we do what we do for two main reasons. The first reason is to allow us to do what we love. Second to make a living doing that thing. It’s pretty straight forward, right? However, of the two the second becomes the greater issue with regards to mentality. Money can easily become an overwhelming concern. It can even become crippling at times. For many of us, we fall victim to this causing us to take everything that comes our way. A”Project-Pit” as I’ve heard it called. I am currently going through this myself where the dedication of  Mr. D Studios to too many clients with varying project depths at one time. After discussing the issue with several fellow entrepreneurs and freelancers, we determined a solution to rectify the situation. So yes, the “Project-Pit” can easily be avoided. How, though? Evaluate the Dedication that project will take to complete and weigh it against your Availability for the scope of that project. Let me clarify:

How is dedication measured?

According to dictionary.com, dedication is: “The state of being dedicated: Her dedication to medicine was so great that she had time for little else.”
With any project, the dedication to do any task depends on what resources it entails to complete it. These are the big three things you have to measure I order to assign weight to the dedication:
  • Time – This is by far the most overlooked resource. Why? Several reasons for this. We often overlook time beyond the direct work hours. We forget about research and analysis, concept development, testing, and even paperwork. The known variables of a project. But there are also the unknown things that we don’t account fornicate projects. Client interference, accidents, and issues with resources are part of it. Muphy’s Law – Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And lastly, gathering resources.
  • Resources – Part of weighing dedication is resources. Do you have the extra materials, required consumables, and even manpower to dedicate to another project? The finances too.  Sadly everything in business costs money. The costs vary, but you have to spend money to make money.
  • Space – Do you have the space to create a finished product for your customer? The could be storefront space; work shed space or even cyberspace with modern technology.
 
How heavy is the sum of those three factors? While your heart may say, “Yeah let’s do it,” you have to weigh out all these things before you let it impact your availability.

How is availability measured?

 By definition availability is: “having sufficient power or efficacy; valid.”
Resources, Time, and Space are limited. If we had unlimited resources, time, and space, then we would all be wildly successful. Nothing to hold us back. However, that is never the case. That’s why we have to evaluate and figure out what our limits and capabilities are. It’s difficult to calculate, and it will most likely fluctuate several times before you can lock on to a decent value. Availability has the same three factors, just different ways to quantify them.
  • Time – the total/maximum amount of time you can devote to a project.
  • Resources –  the total/maximum amount of resources you have to devote to a project.
  • Space – how much room you have complete the project.

How do we use our dedication weight and measured availability to determine if we should take on more work?

Said easily: Take your current availability and subtract your dedication from the total. Ex:
  • Total time/hours available  – New project’s estimated hours  = X
    • if “X” is negative you shouldn’t take the project. This first calculation hardest because you can’t add more time. You have to reduce the time from something else, causing that event/project to suffer.
  • (Total resources in hand + Resources provided client) – resources used for project = X
    • if “X” is negative you shouldn’t take the project unless the client will continually supply Resources. Monetary value is the easiest measurable unit because as I stated before, everything cost money. So like anything you do it the same way. How much do I have – what it’s all going to cost = X. this helps keep you from losing money on a project.
  • Total space available – Space need for project = X
    • if “X” is negative you shouldn’t take the project unless the client supplies Space. Client supplied space is a place to work or even hosting space.
In my experience, I pass on projects if unless all factors are positive/yes. It helps prevent overburdening yourself/business and your other projects from suffering.

Outweighted by Dedication to your projects?

For many business the task of branding, marketing, website creation, and maintenance eats time and resources many entrepreneurs don’t have to spare.
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Reflection Causing a Change in Direction

Reflection Causing a Change in Direction

So I have been Broadcasting radio silence over the last several weeks with the blog, and I apologize. The biggest reason for doing so is I have started to change the way i look at business. Although I am a “Creative Consultant” as the market refers to people in my field, I feel that what Mr D studios stands for needs to evolve beyond myself. I recently join Fizzle.co – A very fun and engaging community for modern entrepreneurs – I have started to interact with my core group of potential clients. Fizzle consists of Business owners, entrepreneurs, and start-up companies that are aiming to move forward with a business idea. Many of whom have concerns with starting the collaborative process with a Graphic Design and/or Creative Consultant. For over 5 years now Mr D Studios has been a great outlet for me to demonstrate my skills to potential new businesses. However, with a vast amount (over 20 pages) of feedback from the business owners in Fizzle, I have come to realize I missed the boat.  

Every single person who gave me feedback in someway or another made one key point:

What can you do for me and/or my business directly?

  So over the last several weeks and the next few coming up, I will be working in my spare time to answer this question for new visitors. This will take a back seat of course to my existing customers’ needs. While I have a rough Idea of what this will entail, I am not actually sure how much really needs changed. Please bare with me and Mr D Studios as we start to grow a way to better serve you, the client.
It’s Not Your Service, It’s Your Expertise.

It’s Not Your Service, It’s Your Expertise.

Have you ever heard one of those lines that skews your thought behind something? Regardless of what that something actually is, you suddenly have an epiphany about it. The line that got me recently was:
“No one hires a mechanic because he turns bolts, People hire the mechanic because he knows which bolts to turn.”
I was reading an article on charging clients a fair amount, and it had a comic with a conversation between a client and a designer. Something along the lines of:

Client: “Can you make me a logo?” Designer: “Yes. I will be right back.”

——— ten minutes later————

Designer: “Here you go.” Client: ”I love it, How much?” Designer: “$500.” Client: “500? really? it only took you ten minutes. I am not paying you that much for ten minutes of work.” Designer: “ You aren’t paying $500 me for ten minutes of work. You are paying me $500 for being able to create it in ten minutes.”

For me what that translated to was not the fact that the “client” isn’t paying for the service, they are paying for your expertise in preforming that service. That’s right, your expertise. I know a lot of people who under cut themselves drastically because the client because their new clients can’t afford it. Within reason that makes sense. However, you have to find that middle ground, where you aren’t losing money. Conversely, a clients has to be willing to spend a little money, as an investment in order to make a little money.

Final Thoughts

While I wrote this in regards to design, it applies to any area. Mechanics, Doctors, Chefs, and others. It’s a unique way to perceive the issue, but remember you have built your knowledge about your sector, and probably have business or student loan debt because of it. Why would you undercut yourself to share or use that knowledge? Exactly, you wouldn’t. Please feel free to leave a comment and share this article with a friend in need.

Owner, Author, Designer, Consultant

Dylan “Mr. D” Roush is a graphic design professional with over 6 year experience. Based out of Pittsburgh,  Mr. D specializes in WordPress design, print design, typography and illustration.
Mediocrity in Design

Mediocrity in Design

Mediocrity. Hard to not fall into that level, and even harder to break away from it. but Mediocrity can be used to a designers (really anybody’s) advantage. It really all relates to the individual perspective of the person. Mediocre is defined as “of moderate quality; not very good.” Then that means that mediocrity is “the state of being or having the quality of being mediocre.” It’s hard to not be mediocre. Mediocre work happens in every field. Design is what I most reference here because I stick to what i know. Logical, right?  As designers and consultants, we have all seen things that we think are mediocre. Usually we can instantly tell if it is mediocre, but the hard part is as to why it is mediocre. Sometimes we can see it right away.  Other times we can’t pinpoint it, but we know something is off. That’s just what we do. I’ve heard it called “The Designer’s Eye”, “Knowing What you Do”, and even “Being a Dick.” But how does mediocrity happen? There are many reasons mediocrity can happen. For example:
  • The client doesn’t have any vision of what they want as an end result.
  • The designer doesn’t have enough knowledge to expand on ideas.
  • The designer my not have the experience to have the execution of what they wanted to do.
  • The constant changes in trends and styles.
  • Laziness. Plain and Simple.
  • Trying to make a quick couple dollars
That is only a couple of the reasons. All those points could be avoided easily. Solving those issues is how you break away from mediocrity.
  • Stay upon trends.
  • Don’t be lazy.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Work with clients closely.
  • Be a Mentor.
That will solve a lot of issues. Become a student of your work. Try to push yourself and learn with every new project you have. Just don’t half ass it along the way. There are Millions of great resources out there. From blogs to books to tutorials. Youtube. Other professionals in your field. Endless sources for improvement to go outside your comfort zone. When you leave your comfort zone you start growing. but it’s not an overnight thing, it takes years to achieve anything worth noting. Including creating your own style of work. Many designers I know out running with no humility and never improve because they think they are the best designer ever. You need to have your ego bruised. HAVE TO. It keeps you in check, and makes you take a realistic perspective on things. It happens to all of us at some point. Just like the Needy Client I mentioned before. Now that my rant about mediocrity is over, I want to let you know that mediocrity is necessarily a bad thing.  If everything is mediocre, you can use that to your advantage. It’s like using the rainy days to make a sunny day stand out as something special. Complexity does not set work apart. it is the quality of the work. The details make all the difference. Those detail are what can take a good design and make it great.  As long as we continue to push ourselves to get better and increase our knowledge of what we do and how we do it, we will continue to overcome the burden of being mediocre.  

Here are some great reads about mediocrity in design:

Mediocrity vs. Excellence: What Separates Good From Great?
The Role of Mediocrity in Graphic Design
Avoiding the pitfalls of mediocrity
  Are you hungry? No. Not burgers and fries hungry. Drive. What are you willing to do to achieve that coveted spot you want in whatever you do? How far are you willing to go and push against the restrains? That kind of hunger. That is the defining factor in how much you can overcome mediocrity.  You only get out what you put in.

Owner, Author, Designer, Consultant

Dylan “Mr. D” Roush is a graphic design professional with over 6 year experience. Based out of Pittsburgh,  Mr. D specializes in WordPress design, print design, typography and illustration.
Different Pricing Methods

Different Pricing Methods

One of the biggest issues with freelancing and consulting is pricing. There are all kinds of people with different opinions on what is best. After years of design there seems to be three main types of pricing: Flat, Return On Investment (ROI), and Need Based. It is hard to determine which is really best.  Below I will give you some of the pros and cons of each, and you can ultimately decide which is best for your business.

flat rate:

It’s like the post office. You charge one price each client’s package of service(s). Pricing tables are good examples of this, Typically it’s used for bundle packages through websites. Flat Rate pricing is tricky because it has to incorporate many aspects of design including: Design ,Several rounds of changes (the number of rounds should be in your contract),Client meetings, Travel, Project research, Email and phone communication, Dealing with outside vendors, Dealing with subcontractors, and other needs that may arise.  

Pros

  • Quick Pricing
  • Easy Tracking
Pricing
  • Tables can be used
 

Cons

  • Inaccurate Price for Amount of Work
  • Strict Budgeting
  • Little concern for client needs

Return On Investment:

Return On Investment (ROI) is the tricky one to present. this is where you have to let your marketing professional side shine. It is based around lead generation for a business.
 
Say a client gets 30 leads from the site you are going to make. Each lead is worth $3,000, if the lead is completely processed. Of those 30 leads, only 10 come through. Client makes $30,000. So the client made $30,000 from the site you charge $5,000 to create. That’s a $25,000 profit. That is a worth while investment, right? That is five time the return on the client’s investment.

Pros

  • High return
  • 
Investor Understanding of Return
  • Financial Monitoring
  • Create Complete Picture

Cons

  • A lot of Time Consumed
  • 
Lengthy Analysis
  • No Guarantee of Return
  • Extensive Knowledge of Clients

Need Based:

Need based is my preferred method of the three. Very simple but highly effective. What does the Client have? What does the Client need? What does the Client want? What other goods and services might the client benefit from that you can offer? It is a moderate challenge to make an assessment, but very effective.

Pros

  • Room for Expansion
  • 
Very Client Specific
  • Nothing Unnecessary
  • Client has Options

Cons

  • Long Meetings
  • More Time in Material Gathering
  • May Require New Skills
  • Longer Refinement
That’s are the basic system fundamentals most designers I know use to determine pricing. However, I have noticed that all three start to bleed over into one another as time goes on. I my self use a checklist of services and options to determine and record everything a client has, needs, and wants. Then each item on the list has a price, add those prices, apply any discounts (bundles service, referrals, etc.) and you have your client’s price. Take time and experiment. Figure out what works best for you. Remember as fast as things change, no one’s single method is 100% correct. It might work for their business, but not not yours. Let me know what you think and what method you use.

Owner, Author, Designer, Consultant

Dylan “Mr. D” Roush is a graphic design professional with over 6 year experience. Based out of Pittsburgh,  Mr. D specializes in WordPress design, print design, typography and illustration.
Communication: Have Patience

Communication: Have Patience

I wanted to share this with everyone since many businesses I work with (both clients and partnerships) do all use the same communication methods.  I know that seems really obvious to most readers but after thinking about it, there maybe things you don’t always consider in regard to that communication. I have had clients reach out tons of different ways. Skype, text, email, Go-to-meeting, and even call me on the phone. Yes a phone call (who does that anymore?) Anyway with regard to capability, there are infinite means of communicating in business. However, there are many reasons that patience is KEY in communication. We live in a society were we get angry if someone doesn’t text us back right after we text them. The impatient – I need it now – “what the hell is taking so long” society has made us all this way. It’s not our fault. But at the same time… It’s COMPLETELY our fault. We know, as people, this is an issue. Many of us have commented on it with a tweet or a Facebook post. Personally, I find that truly ironic. Yet there is one question we don’t consider as often as we should:
What is going on the other end of the line? What’s the reason they haven’t gotten back to me?
It could be as bad as the business deal is done and that person is telling you with radio silence. Although it could be as simple as that person is driving somewhere can doesn’t text and drive. That being said, as people we instantly go to the worst case scenario. What happened? What did I do wrong? Did I drop the ball on this? So you do everything you can to make sure you are covered. Double check to make sure the email was sent to the right emails. Resend it from another email. Check the paperwork for errors and things. More often than not, the other person received everything and it just got lost in the shuffle of daily life. So it’s not anyone’s fault. Life gets in the way. It happens. If they are still on board for a project they will get back to you. After all you impact their business and income in some way shape or form. Especially, if it helps to move that business forward. But if the project goes for a month or so without a response, it may not be worth sitting on. It really is hard to figure out what is the best length of time. Trust your gut, I guess. There is nothing definitive. You really have to use you best judgement.