Address issues of money early. Those who don’t talk about money, don’t make it.
In every culture in the world it’s considered impolite to talk about money in a personal context.
In every culture in the world it’s considered a sign of poor business acumen if you cannot have a money conversation.
Build expertise rapidly. Continuously learning is mandatory.
The generalists life is an easy life because when you’re a generalist designer you’re willing to do all kinds of different work for all kinds of different clients and you’re essentially taking clients based on your own personal interest- your need to solve a problem that you haven’t previously solved.
Designers have broad interests. Your strength is solving the problem that other people haven’t solved. Therefore designers are drawn to new problems.
The idea of solving the same problems over and over again and benefiting from repeated observation and repeated application and building expertise terrifies you.
Build expertise rapidly.
You should be twice as smart today as you were a year or two ago, and I don’t care how long you’ve been in the business. And if you’re not, it’s not because you’re stupid, it’s more likely that you’re just too broadly focused.
Free pitching is never going to go away. It’s always going to be the tool of last resort for the outsider, the student, those trying to build experience, or somebody who just wants to take a flyer on a long shot.
If you are not viewed as more expert than your competition, then you will be viewed as one in a sea of many, and you will have little power in your relationships with your clients and prospects.
Design is a profession at crossed roads. On the one hand design is seen as one of the ultimate differentiator between a company’s product and it’s competition. On the other hand, the outputs of graphic design have never been more commoditized than as they are right now.
The world does not need another full service marketing communications agency. Expertise is the only meaningful differentiator of a design firm.