Here at our studio we're working at a fast pace. We've lined ourselves up with work that will last through the entire summer - or so I think. The reason why I say "I think" is because...
As with any design business, clients can change their minds, they'll wait to sign their contracts, projects can be put on hold or scrapped altogether at a moment's notice. These are instances you can anticipate happening at some time or another because of all kinds of various reasons.
Then there are those projects you know won't be very large. But -- these are the projects designers LOVE -- they'll grow to be much bigger than you thought they'd be!
The problem comes with scheduling for all these unknowns. (Well, that seems to be my problem. ;-)
All throughout this spring I’ve been trying to get a handle on my workload, to figure out how much I really can take on now that I have two full-time employees. Because you know... When people call, they want to see some action, asap. They want to be seen and met with as quickly as possible, because they want to figure out sooner rather than later whether or not this collaboration is going to work.
And I understand that - I really do. I want to know that as well.
QUESTION: Designers - How do you filter projects you take on? Do you have any specific questions you ask to determine if a project is good for you? Click here to share your advice now.
Now that I have a bigger overhead every month, I’m also trying to figure out how much work our studio needs to take on.
Okay, so yes... I already know exactly how much money I need every month to knock that overhead off my plate of worries. And yes, no matter how much business may be booming during a particular period of time, money is always a worry.
The problem that comes along with managing these expectations is that you're never fully confident that you know what types of projects are going to present themselves, nor an exact figure as to how much income they'll bring in.
Why? Because, as I mentioned above, the scopes of projects can change. It's just the nature of this business.
I love doing all kinds of projects.
One type of project I've especially grown fond of is remodeling. However, I’ve realized that remodeling projects aren't much of a money-maker for designers. Regardless of scope, regardless of location, regardless of budget, remodeling design is something most designers don’t really make much profit on. But I want to keep doing these projects - I enjoy them so!
I’m also beginning to get more and more furnishings jobs, and I really need those to keep afloat. (Oh, and these are really fun too ;-)
And new construction jobs are also great, because they don't involve just a bathroom, or just a kitchen, it’s an entire house needing our expertise. So, when these gigs come in, they come as a beautiful blessings, because they keep us busy for quite a while and allow us to take a break from having to constantly pursue new business. What business owner doesn't LOVE those periods of time!
With so many exciting projects available, a good balance seems to be the thing I need most.
QUESTION: Designers - Do you limit your workload by specializing in only one type of project? If so, how has that worked out for you? Click here to share your advice now.
Balancing project types brings up another point needing to be considered: project sizes.
We also need a balance of small and large projects, because juggling a bunch of small ones can be really difficult and tedious. Without a balance, you'll spend so much time bouncing between jobs that you wind up never getting things accomplished. Small projects that should be quick and fast will end up getting drawn out because they're shuffled in there with all the others you're responsible for.
Sometimes however, small projects, especially E-Design or our DESIGNED In a Click service, can be easily plugged into the middle of a larger one, because there are always instances throughout a larger project where you’re waiting on decisions, information, etc. With these in your back pocket, you're always prepared to keep your momentum going.
QUESTION: Designers - What questions do you ask up front to determine how much time you’ll need to devote to a project? Click here to share your advice now.
Finally, there’s one more factor that can help determine the projects I’ll take on: Marketability.
For me, project marketability trumps everything. No matter their type or size, I want my projects to be something in the end, I can market to acquire future projects. I want my input to be seen and evident when I leave a job. I want to make a significant and substantial impact on every space I touch.
If I want one of my projects to one day land on the cover of House Beautiful, and indeed I do, I need to make sure everything my studio does builds to that moment :-)
Designers: How do YOU balance everything that finds its way onto your calendar of booked projects?
I, along with all the other designers here, would love to hear, and benefit from, your advice ;-)