1. Make a plan
"The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his template before the battle is fought"
Begin by planning your business venture well in advance. This involves creating a budget, setting goals and objectives, and devising a game plan. Successful small businesses are founded on proper planning. Similarly, in design, every project must start with a clear objective in mind, which helps to produce the most appropriate and effective design.
2. Assess the competitive marketplace
"If you know your enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles"
Analyze the competitive marketplace by thoroughly studying existing competitors, speaking with their customers, and identifying areas where your business can excel. Avoid competing directly with your competitors in areas where they have the advantage. Before designing for your business, take inspiration from successful companies, but ensure that you do not copy their designs. Simply find out how you can create a meaningful design.
3. Perform exceptional service
"Supreme excellence consist is breaking the enemy with no fighting"
Outperform your competition by providing exceptional service to your customers. Rather than engaging in a pricing war or stealing customers from competitors, win business by out-serving them. Keep up with design trends, as they come and go. As a professional graphic designer, you must know which trends are emerging and which already outdated.
4. Fake it till you make it
"If you are distant from the enemy make him believe you are near"
Present your business as a larger company with a professional image, website, logo, and uniforms. Build a brand from the start and let your competitors know that you are nearby, providing outstanding customer care and quality work.
5. Build your customer base through referrals
"Opportunities multiply as they are seized"
Build your customer base through referrals by providing excellent service and treating referrals with care. Treat every project as if it were your best and top priority.
6. Hiring and team building
"Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death"
As your business grows, focus on building a team and being a benevolent leader. Empower your team members by giving them a voice and listening to their input. This approach can work well for designers and other professionals – try to make it a part of the studio ethos.