I believe designers have good prerequisites to become great entrepreneurs, but many of them don’t take advantage of it.
There are so many talented people on this planet but not everyone is successful and sometimes even struggling to make a living.
Being a designer myself, I know that designers tend to focus on getting better at their craft and have almost zero interest in business.
Designing functional & beautiful products that people would love and trying to change the world was always on top of the list.
This is actually something that probably could be applied to 90% of all designers out there. We just have strange values.
But lately I came to the conclusion that Design and Entrepreneurship should go hand in hand. If we want to create great products that going to sell we should learn to understand the psychology of business.
To become an entrepreneur, your background doesn’t matter
Frankly, It doesn’t really matter which creative industry you are from; whether it is architecture, industrial design, fashion or digital etc.
What really matters is how determined you are.
One of the biggest advantages designers have, is the sense for aesthetics and ability to take on challenges and solve problems.
The education most of us received is quite diverse and let us became great allrounders before we enter our professional career. At university we learned to handle different challenges and constraints due to always changing projects. We learned to use different tools for different situations that lets us tackle various kind of problems.
This diversification is a great workout for the brain which functions like a muscle. The more we practice, the stronger it gets.
Designers need to expand their horizon
However, to become successful entrepreneurs we need to learn to let certain things go, change our mindset and acquire a totally new set of skills.
Unfortunately when we enter our professional career and start to work for companies we tend to narrow our field of view and become specialists.
Therefore it is important that we either work on side projects where we can learn those skills or look beyond our department inside a company, reaching out to different people to learn from. Taking on new tasks that are not necessarily related to design.
Designers are no super-humans
Designers are definitely not better than the rest and make better entrepreneurs. I don’t believe this is true, especially when you start out and here are two reasons why I think we are even worse:
1. Designers are too obsessed about details
We just care too much about our craft that makes us vulnerable. We often tend to lose focus and spend to much time on improving nitty gritty details. Changing things forth and back without adding real value.
Striving for the best is a good character trait. But in some situations it is not always the most efficient one.
2. We always want to change existing designs
Another thing I’ve observed, being a designer, is that we are talking a lot about sharing and collaboration. Yet, at the end of the day many of us still want to create unique things and try to be better than others because we just have a competitive mindset by nature. I’m pretty sure that every designer had to go through this situation of joining an existing project and noticing things that could have been done “better”, instead of trying to build on things and move forward fast.
Designers should never lose focus of the bigger vision
If you look at the entrepreneur in contrast, entrepreneurs are able to be more flexible and care less about the details. The shift their focus on what’s important: business growth.
If things don’t contribute enough to the vision, they will get less priority and it is easier to let things go.
Not being an expert in any specific field, but rather knowing a bit of every field, gives the entrepreneur a great advantage.
Entrepreneurs are great leaders because they have people skill. They are not necessarily the smartest people, but they know how to handle smarter people and are willing to compromise in order to reach the bigger goal.
The reason why I still believe that designers could make great entrepreneurs is because both are great at problem solving and have empathy for the user/customer.
Both have the ability to react to arising challenges and can adapt to situations as they go and both usually want the best for the user or customer.
If designers can learn the basic traits of entrepreneurs, becoming more open minded and understand how businesses work, we can create a powerful combination of skills that will make us more successful in the long run.