Your fingers are crippling…all the shortcuts and hand moves that became so natural over time seem to be gone.
Suddenly you’re catching yourself moving things around without any plan and purpose.
It feels like you’re getting old, trying to catch up with the latest developments because you haven’t touched your tools in 6 months.
Our world moves so quickly nowadays that it is getting more difficult to stay up to date with the latest tools and developments that might improve our workflow.
And you feel the pressure to try them out, otherwise you’re missing out.
“Ehm, is it ok if I still use photoshop?”
Being a digital designer nowadays is tough enough, but then on the other side you see this beautiful world of startups and small businesses where designers become founders, creating their own beautiful products and launching them on kickstarter.
You feel the pressure of jumping on the train because it’s exciting, having your own company and the freedom to design whatever product you want. No restrictions, no rules, no one who tells you how to design your own product. You can embrace your creativity to the fullest.
But once you enter the world of entrepreneurship you suddenly realize that it doesn’t really make you a better designer and here is why:
1# Because your designing time is drastically reduced
The beginning of the journey is probably the most exciting one. Because you start with the product. You’re getting up early in the morning because you are excited and you cannot sleep. You’re zoning out during conversations because your mind is thinking about what details to improve. Spending days and nights on your baby with no pressure in mind.
But then you come to a point where you have to make it real. Bring it out to the real world to real customers.
Suddenly you find yourself dumping the adobe suite for productivity tools.
Enjoying every single animation when you cross off an item from your checklist or analyzing statistics of how many customer clicked the CTA link on your website.
It is a world of efficiency, poking the box and see what happens. It is an exciting world because you see the immediate response caused by your action. There is less hierarchy or dependencies that slows you down.
You have to look beyond your design title and acquire new skills such as sales, marketing or copywriting because your business demands it.
In this world you will spend less time on your design, but will build up other powerful skills instead.
2# Because you cannot tweak all nitty gritty details
You probably encountered this situation in your daily design practices before:
“let’s move the text 10px to the right…ahh, wait…move it back…mhh…maybe try another font…change the background color…increase the font size…nice!”
As a designer you could design details forever. you could tweak your products every day and make improvements. You tweak your product, then your website, then your product, then your website…it’s a deadly spiral.
This is our craft, our passion to get things right in the first place and ship a beautiful product. Especially nowadays where the awareness of customers for good design has risen compared to the past, it is getting more important to bring good quality products to the market that customers love and appreciate.
…Nevertheless, time is the biggest constraint for entrepreneurs.
It is actually not that you’re spending too much time on tweaking details which is dangerous but rather losing focus. Losing focus on what’s important: selling the product. Losing focus also means increasing the chance of losing motivation because you are spending too much time on one thing and after a while your mission get’s blurry. If you are working on nitty gritty things and tweak details to perfection, you will find yourself ending up in a never ending process.
If you provide a great value and solve a big pain for your customer, they will overlook your little flaws. Therefore you have to start selling first. Once you gained their trust, they are willing to support you with their money nevertheless. And once you made your first penny by selling something you created, it will change your world.
You will experience that excitement when people love using your product and it encourages you to do more. New ideas seem to pop up out of nowhere and before you realize it, you already came up with a whole ecosystem of products.
In the end, you will not only create one product you are proud of but many that people love.
3# Because you have to think beyond the screen
No time to perfect your skill, no time to craft beautiful details…man, the grass on the other side isn’t really as greener, huh?
There is a popular saying in the world of business that even non business people know: “Time is Money.”
When you think of a startup you probably imagine a big pot of money coming from investors but it would be a big lie calling money as the entrepreneurs best friend. it’s never there when you need it.
You will come to situation where you have to make a decision: “If you want this material, its gonna cost you x € more and takes x weeks to order” or “we have to build this custom animation from scratch which takes approx. x weeks. is it really worth it?”
If you work for a company you rarely have to think about money the way you would think of it if you had your own business.
One of the most important traits of entrepreneurs is to see the big picture and have a long term strategic vision in the back of the head. Therefore you have to make wise decisions when it comes to investments.
Your first product will never be perfect and you won’t even know if it is gonna be a huge success, so don’t waste time and money to work on things that doesn’t have the highest priority.
Maybe you have to save money on your product and invest it in partnerships instead to win in the long term.
Looking into the future you will be able to expand your network, build strong partnerships and relationships with people who will help you to become more successful.
All these tradeoffs won’t make you a better designer in terms of tool handling and skills but the lessons and expertise you learn along the way as an entrepreneur will make you a more diverse designer in the long run.