For students and graduates
New Start - Baby Pencil winner Vicki Young's top 10 tips for setting up your own studio
New year, New Start, New life?
After the sudden death of her father in 2010, Baby Pencil winner Vicki Young began to look at her life from a very different perspective, ‘It dawned on me that if I died as young as him, at age 28 I would have already lived half my life.’
With this realisation came a desire to go after the things she really wanted and to stop living a life she wasn’t happy with, ‘Working for a small agency was amazing but I felt there wasn’t enough of a ladder for me to climb, I wanted more and a larger agency didn’t work as I felt like a cog, and being a cog isn’t so great, no matter how amazing the machine.’
With this in mind, Vicki realised the only thing standing between her and the life she wanted was her own fear, so she took the plunge and started her own studio: Just her, a computer, and a lot of hope. In less than a week she had her first paying client and things have been looking up ever since.
We asked Vicki about they key things she’s learned since beginning her journey, and she told us her top ten tips for starting your own business.
1) Get into the ‘Studio Zone’ - Your spare room, kitchen table where ever you work is your ‘studio’. It instantly makes you think big, and thinking big is great. I’m trying to hang onto working from home for as long as I can bear it - yes I dream of being in a studio with others to chat to, but other concerns, such as the cost of office space, mean it’s often a better idea to work from home, especially if your financials aren’t as rosy as you’d like (yet).
2) Dress smart - Walk into your ‘studio’ as if walking into a business meeting. If you work in your pyjamas you will do pyjama quality work.
3) Do one thing a month that scares you - How can you be an open and inspired designer if you never leave your comfort zone? Last month I went to a professional dance class. I can’t dance. I left thinking never again, but whenever I’m having a bad day I think ‘at least it‘s not as bad as that dance class…’
4) Network, Network, Network. Meet as many people as possible. When starting out, all of your work is gained via word of mouth. When I started out a friend of mine said, ‘Oh you must meet my godfather he’s a graphic designer too.’ To be honest I thought ‘This is going to be a massive waste of his and my time’ but it turned out to be one of the most helpful chats I ever had.
5) You are not a pound shop. Don’t charge like one. Remember that you are a business and you have skills that most people don’t have. Your time is valuable. Find the balance between charging too little and pricing yourself out of the market.
6) Stop acting like an amateur online. Buying a domain name and setting up an email is vital. Loosing the amateurish firstname.lastname@example.org and upgrading to email@example.com for example immediately ups your professional appearance. Setting this up is quite cheap and easy – there are a number of companies that will walk you through the process in simple steps.
7) Sacrifices will have to be made. Before you start out I found it very useful to either a) live for free or b) have some money saved to help you through those first tough months. In terms of living for free, moving home to the parents is an option. This sounds daunting but it’s not forever and it might even spur you on to work harder to make some money. I’ve found you get out as much as you put in
8) More forms = more money I have found that the more you do yourself paperwork-wise, the more profit you will retain and watching your pennies is very important in the early days. However I did find that the forms needed to register as a limited company were a little mind boggling so after a bit for research I paid to use a website that eases the form filling out.
9) No place for negativity - There are people in life who are afraid, who would not want to take the challenge of putting their neck on the line and take the chance of doing something different. Wherever possible ban these people from your working life, they will see only failure where others may see opportunity.
10) Anything is possible. I’m just starting out as a business owner and already I’ve written an article for D&AD - that’s pretty amazing. Just think what you could do!
You can see examples of Vicki's work on her website. Go on, it's lovely.