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By Keith Granet. Forty-five years ago, a college friend who was the development manager for a large commercial project was looking for someone to provide the tenant improvement and interior design for the building.
I had never done tenant improvement—or even interiors—but being an architect, I thought, I can do that. So I accepted the assignment, and I started on my way to opening my own firm. Fortunately, my employer at the time let me work part-time in the mornings so I could focus on my new firm in the afternoons. In two months I was able to build some cash flow, gain an understanding of all the requirements of running my own company, and still have time to set up an actual business and a physical office.
I really knew nothing about running an office, about business, or about interiors. But I had enough confidence to believe that I could take on this new assignment and still do a good job for my client. I certainly never realized that this small start-up would grow into the international design firm Gensler. I realize that the process would have been much easier had there been books and programs on how to run a business and develop a professional-service organization that I could have consulted.
The Business of Design by Keith Granet is a wonderful book that serves as an important resource for establishing and managing design firms. Keith provides many invaluable suggestions for designers and architects who want to start a practice or take their business to a new level. I have always thought that as a profession—since all ships rise in a rising tide—we would better serve our clients by running firms that are much more professional.
I started my firm without benefit of a business plan or any formal business training. After a few years of practice, I realized I needed to take a course in business, so I enrolled in an extension program at the University of California.
So I hired my professor, Glen Strasburg, to work directly with the few key people I had brought into my firm. Glen led weekly classes and assigned homework to my team so that we were able to quickly learn what we needed about the business side of our efforts. In addition, the people I met along the way introduced me to other clients, many of whom are still clients of the firm today.
No matter what area you are working in—residential, commercial, hospitality, etc. Keith started as an intern at Gensler.
He spent eight terrific years learning, exploring, and in many cases helping me and other people in the firm grow in their areas of expertise. When Keith left Gensler to start his own consulting business, it was obvious that he truly could add value to multiple design firms. It becomes a win-win situation.
You can then continue to do wonderful projects together and build your portfolio. The key is to treat those relationships with respect and honor. Listen to your clients and work with them. As discussed in the Human Resources chapter of this book, another important element in building an organization is the quality of the people you hire. Hire the best and work with the best.
Being in the design field, you can have significant impact on your clients, your community, and the environment.
Those of us in the business of design have the responsibility to provide sound solutions to the problems posed by our clients. The Business of Design is a powerful learning tool that will help members of our profession, from new students to practicing professionals, understand these responsibilities.
Designers and architects are some of the most creative people on earth. Their work is featured in glossy magazines; they dispense advice on reality TV shows. They blindly trust their bookkeepers without having a system of checks and balances in place. They neglect to market their services during busy times, risking an endless boom-and-bust cycle. How can it be that people who are so talented, so committed, and so passionate about their work can sometimes be their own worst enemies?
That question is a big part of what inspired me to write this book. At Granet and Associates, I advise designers and architects on everything from billing to branding, from client management to marketing and licensing. I show them how confidence, discipline, organization, and good planning can help them run a business that allows them to pursue their passion for design and make a good living, too. I helped one firm grow from eight people to seventy.
Many designers and architects see any new project as a solution to cash-flow problems, even if the designer-client fit is a poor one, and the project drags on to the point that it becomes a money loser rather than a moneymaker. I help clients see the difference. Another common misconception is that only superstar designers command the highest fees and the best licensing deals, when in fact, there are people out there who are hardly household names yet have done very well financially because they know how to run a successful business.
That kind of success involves not just the day-to-day workings of a design practice. It also requires the ability to recognize both opportunities for growth and the preconceptions that might stand in the way of that growth.
I want this book to offer everyone in the design world, not just my clients, the tools to create a thriving design business. My passion for design was evident in my childhood by the large size of my Lego collection. I was lucky to have parents who indulged my passion. I invested hours in designing and building Lego villages. When I returned to school, I enrolled in some business classes and did very well. I thought that if I could combine my innate business sense with my love of design, this might direct me toward a career path.
It was my aha! I had tremendous enthusiasm for the design profession, but I also knew that my real passion lay in the business of design, rather than in design itself. If either of those components had been missing, I would have failed. Success in design comes to those who have a little bit of both, business sense and creative talent, or at least the good sense to collaborate with someone who can complement their strengths and weaknesses.
The truth is that any profession is not solely about the skills it requires, but also about all the components it takes to build a successful career in that profession. You need people to market, manage, and run your company. Teaching a designer to think about his or her business as a business first is not an easy task.
This starving-artist syndrome is a major reason why so many designers are paid so little. Some of them have an instinctive sense of their worth, while others need some coaching. Nor are they taught much else about how to earn a living. Upload Sign In Join. Create a List.
Download to App. Ratings: Rating: 3. Length: pages 3 hours. For nearly thirty years, consultant Keith Granet has helped design professionals pursue their passion and turn a profit. Related Categories. G73 Start your free 30 days.
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ISBN 13: 9781616890186
The author sat down to chat with EAL about his latest offering. What are the most common business hurdles you see among designers? Being able to communicate their value and not discounting their services when they find they are in need of work. How does this book follow up on The Business of Design? Where The Business of Design walks you through the major aspects of running a healthy design firm, The Business of Creativity takes a deeper dive into the team you need to surround yourself with if you are a creative person. The internet has definitely been a big disrupter for the interior design industry.
The Business of Design: Balancing Creativity and Profitability
By Keith Granet. Forty-five years ago, a college friend who was the development manager for a large commercial project was looking for someone to provide the tenant improvement and interior design for the building. I had never done tenant improvement—or even interiors—but being an architect, I thought, I can do that. So I accepted the assignment, and I started on my way to opening my own firm. Fortunately, my employer at the time let me work part-time in the mornings so I could focus on my new firm in the afternoons. In two months I was able to build some cash flow, gain an understanding of all the requirements of running my own company, and still have time to set up an actual business and a physical office. I really knew nothing about running an office, about business, or about interiors.