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Running a tight ship?

In a recent 2Bobs podcast David C. Baker likened leading a business through the coming year as sailing a boat through headwinds and tailwinds. Sometimes tailwinds such as an economic boom will carry a business forward. Occasionally it will encounter the headwinds such as a general economic slowdown, or the crash of a particular sector. 

The uncertainty around Brexit looms large over the UK and individual business leaders have no control over these winds. But they do have control over how prepared their boat is. A ship-shape vessel can be manoeuvred through the business sea regardless of which way the winds are blowing. Rather than floundering, if a business is well-run it can navigate adverse conditions and capitalise on the opportunities they bring.

Positioning is key

What makes a design business any different from the thousands of agencies out there? Does this sound familiar…

“We are a multi-faceted creative agency that love what we do for both small and large clients across all sectors”.

This is how 80% of the design sector describes itself. Saying you are great at what you do, or even that you love doing it, should not even be considered. Do to yourselves what you excel at doing for your clients – create a point of difference to drive customer choice. 

We’ll be exploring positioning at a breakfast event for DBA members on 2 April. Email events@dba.org.uk to register your interest to attend and be the first to hear when bookings open. 

Don’t compete on price

Only one business can be the cheapest, and the chances are it won’t be you. Be clear on the strategic direction of your business and evidence the value you can add to set your business apart. 

Be confident

Leadership is not always easy. But strong leadership will help your team to grow professionally, and your business to grow in stature. The profitability of an entrepreneurial business can be directly linked to the self-esteem of the owner. Explore ways to grow your confidence. If you know you can deliver, you know your value. If you know your value, you can stand your ground in negotiations.

Track your financial performance closely

Benchmark your financial performance with those of your peers and keep a close eye on the profitability of your engagements. This will help you to make better informed and more timely decisions to protect the interests of your business, like in the instance of a DBA member I was chatting to recently. They ended the relationship with their largest client (30% of their income) because the profit margin was so low. That brave decision freed up the agency to find several smaller clients with projects that were far more profitable. Profits jumped from 17% to 35% within the year.

Broaden horizons

Look further afield for new business. The UK is seen as the home of the best creative talent in the world. We have also traditionally been seen as expensive, but exchange rates are in our favour – suddenly the world can afford British design. Put your business in the shop window.

The DBA is working with the Department for International Trade on a trade mission to Hong Kong at the end of 2019, as the UK is the official partner country for the Business of Design Week Hong Kong 2019. If you are interested in growing your client base in Hong Kong and South East China email me to register your interest. 

Keep in touch 

The DBA exists to represent you and support your business. If you need a critical friend give me a call on 020 7251 9229. I am always happy to talk through any business issues you are experiencing and help advise on further resources and support. 

Image credit: 

Robert-Zunikoffon on Unsplash

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