Effectively tracking and managing financial performance involves
looking at different levels of detail and understanding clearly how
all of the pieces are interrelated. Design firms prepare a variety
of reports at different intervals-primarily weekly and monthly.
Together, these different perspectives combine to give a holistic
view of the business.
In a busy studio, it's important to look at individual project
reports at least once a week. Within each project, compare the
original budget to the actual expenses that have been incurred.
This allows you to see how quickly the budget is being used (the
“burn rate”) and whether or not the project will produce its
anticipated profit. Most project management software is already set
up to produce a report that compares estimates to actuals and
recaps project billings to date.
It's also important to look at an overall cash flow projection
every week. Maintaining positive cash flow is always a challenge
for small businesses. The process of preparing a projection helps
you to anticipate what will be coming in and what needs to go out.
The projection itself will be based on two reports from your
financial system: an updated accounts receivable aging and an
updated accounts payable aging. An accounts receivable aging report
is a list of unpaid invoices, usually sorted by client. On the
left, each invoice is listed in order of date issued. On the right,
there are three columns to identify how long you've been waiting
for payment. You can set these preferences in your financial
software, usually “current” (less than 30 days), “30 to 60” and “60
or more.” Unless a client has informed you to the contrary, your
expectation is that the oldest invoices will be paid first. Your
accounts payable can be aged in the same way. Typically you will
pay the oldest vendor invoices first, although priorities sometimes
shift. You will also have a few additional obligations that may not
go through the accounts payable system at all, such as rent or loan
The structure of your cash flow projection is this: for each
period, you show the beginning balance, expected cash in, planned
cash out, and the ending balance that will result. This allows you
to predict the net change. The goal is to avoid periods of negative
cash flow, which would force you to drain your reserves or borrow.
This cash flow projection needs to be updated weekly so that it can
be used as a guide for disbursements. Most design firms try to
write the majority of their checks in one weekly batch because it's
more efficient than preparing them in dribs and drabs. Some
payments must be made on specific dates (such as payroll and rent)
but with others there is often more scheduling leeway (such as the
timing of payments to vendors). Look at the weekly cash flow
projection to see what flexible payments you can afford.
At the end of the month, when you have sent out the last of your
client invoices, follow up by preparing and sending a statement of
account to each active client to recap open items. (Usually this
client statement is in the form of an aging report.)
For yourself, it's important to prepare complete monthly
financial statements including a P&L and a balance sheet. These
should be prepared as soon as possible after the month has ended.
If someone else prepares the financial statements, it's vital for
you as a businessperson to spend time reading and analyzing the
information. Get comfortable with the formats. Know where all of
the numbers come from and how they have been calculated. In this
way, you'll to be able to use the statements as the basis for sound
The P&L (also called an income statement) is an operational
view of your business over a span of time, such as a month, a
quarter or a year. Within that specific time period, it shows how
income compared to expenses and whether or not a net profit was
The balance sheet, in contrast, does not represent a span of
time. It shows the strength of the company at one particular
moment. It is an itemized statement of assets and liabilities in
order to show the net worth of the business at that one moment.
It's called a balance sheet because it is based on the “accounting
equation,” a mathematical expression that describes the
relationship of the items included. The formula is this: assets =
(liabilities + owner's equity). Looked at in another way, the total
assets of the business minus its total liabilities will equal
owners' equity, which can also be called the net worth or book
value of the company.
It's preferable for your in-house financial statements to be
accrual-based. In accrual-based accounting, all income is counted
when it is earned and all expenses are counted when they are
incurred, regardless of when the actual cash is received or paid.
This means that on your financial statements, you will be
recognizing project activity in the month where the work itself
took place. Your invoices to clients are recorded as sales and then
tracked as open accounts receivable. Your purchases from vendors
are recorded as expenses and then tracked as open accounts payable.
This is in contrast to cash-basis accounting, where income and
expenses are not counted until the actual cash changes hands. Cash
payments tend to happen long after the fact, which can distort your
view of monthly activity and indicate ups and downs that are quite
misleading. For this reason, accrual-based financial statements
present a more accurate picture.
Also in an accrual-based accounting system, adjusting entries
are made when the books are closed at the end of each month in
order to update your accounts for items such as depreciation that
have not been recorded as part of your normal daily transactions.
(More about depreciation below.)
The P&L and balance sheet are inter-related. At the end of
each year, the final net profit (or loss) shown on the P&L is
moved into the retained earnings account on the balance sheet. This
allows the P&L to start again at zero for the following
For your reference, here are typical formats for a design firm's
balance sheet and P&L. Sample percentages are shown to indicate
the relative size of each category. Dollar amounts will of course
vary based on the size of each firm.
To help you become familiar with the format of the balance
sheet, here are some simple explanations of the key categories and
terms (your CPA will of course be able to provide you with much
more detailed information):
Assets include anything of value owned by the firm. They are
listed on the balance sheet in the order of their liquidity, which
means how close they are to cash.
These include cash and other items such as short-term
investments that are expected to convert to cash within the next
twelve months. How much cash should you have on hand? The general
rule of thumb for a design firm is to accumulate an amount equal to
three months of payroll and overhead. If something bad happens to
your firm, such as the loss of several top clients, this cash
reserve would give you some breathing room for making adjustments
This is the total of all outstanding invoices that have been
sent to, but not yet paid by, clients. For most design firms, it is
the largest current asset.
Occasionally you might find yourself in a billing dispute with a
client. As a result, you may not receive full payment on some
invoice or other that you have submitted. When finalizing the
balance sheet at the end of each month, the conservative approach
is to prepare an adjusting entry to factor back the accounts
receivable total by a few percentage points in order to allow for
potential bad debts. The amount of the allowance will depend on
your own history, but it is usually small. If you have been careful
in selecting credit-worthy clients, getting signatures on detailed
proposals and providing excellent customer service, you should have
The amount of work that you have put into active projects but
not yet invoiced to clients is a valuable asset. In larger firms
especially, a great deal of care is taken at the end of each month
to calculate the value of the work in process that will be shown on
the financial statements. There are two options for preparing this
adjusting entry-one is to value the work at your net cost, and the
other is to value the work at gross billing rates. Using the first
method, unbilled project expenses that have already been posted to
the cost of sales section of the P&L can be temporarily moved
to the balance sheet and set up (at cost) as a type of inventory.
In the second method, the unbilled project costs can be left on the
P&L and an entry made to accrue the unbilled revenue (at
contract billing rates) that relates to them.
These include such items such as computers, equipment, office
furniture and vehicles. When you purchase an item that costs more
than $100 and has a useful life of at least three years, you will
capitalize it (book it as an asset on the balance sheet) rather
than expense it (post it directly to the P&L). The goal of this
is to avoid distorting current profitability with the full impact
of a large purchase. Also, a major purchase is usually financed,
which allows you to match the long-term asset with a long-term
liability (the loan payable), rather than depleting current
Assets such as equipment and furniture will not last forever.
Based on the useful life of each item (depending on the type of
asset, this can be as short as three years or as long as twenty),
an appropriate percentage of the purchase price will be expensed
each year in an adjusting entry. There are various ways to
calculate depreciation, but the simplest method is “straight line”
which means that an equal portion will be expensed each year. By
the time the item is worn out, its book value as an asset will have
been reduced to zero. Long-term assets also include real estate.
Business buildings can be depreciated but land cannot. Many design
firms do not own the buildings where they are located. If you are
leasing a space and you make improvements to it (such as upgrading
the wiring or remodeling) you can depreciate the cost of those
leasehold improvements. The depreciation period will normally be
the number of years remaining on the lease. (Your CPA will be able
to answer any specific questions that you may have about
Liabilities are debts or other obligations that your business
must pay. They are categorized as either current or long-term.
This includes anything that must be paid within the next twelve
months. Client deposits are included here because it's possible
that some or all of the amount deposited would have to be returned
if a project were cancelled. Bank lines of credit are also included
here because they are intended for short-term use only.
These are debts or other obligations that will be paid beyond
the next twelve months. If you have taken out a business loan that
will be repaid over a number of years, it will appear on your
balance sheet in two separate pieces-the current portion and the
This section of the balance sheet includes the original
investment made by the founder(s) of the firm plus any profits that
have accumulated over the life of the business. If the assets of
the company were to be liquidated, it represents the portion of the
proceeds that would come to the owner(s) after all debts had been
paid. In a sense, it is the portion of the overall business that is
currently owned free and clear.
These are accumulated net profits that have been kept within the
business. On financial statements, they are usually split into the
subcategories of “current year” and “prior years.” These retained
earnings are held for future needs or for future distribution to
the owner(s) of the firm.
Cost of sales
Again, here are some explanations of key terms and concepts:
This section includes all revenue of any type. For creative
firms, most revenue comes from sales to clients, which should be
split into two major categories:
These are fees charged to clients for professional services
provided by your staff.
These include all third party items that you have billed to your
clients, usually at marked-up amounts.
In order to produce billable work, you incur various costs
directly related to active client projects.
Direct labor is the time that you and your team have spent
working on active client projects. You should track those hours and
use them to break out the billable portion of your payroll. Under
normal circumstances, billable labor will represent roughly
two-thirds of your total payroll. The remaining, non-billable
portion of your payroll will be posted to the overhead section of
Some creative firms rely heavily on freelancers. Others do not.
When freelancers are involved, design firms track the expense
separately, but typically do not break it out as a separate line
item when invoicing the client. If it is folded into the billings
for professional services, this usually means that the work is
being billed to the client at rates that would have been charged
for staff labor. This is a different approach than simply marking
up the freelance expense by a small percentage, as you would do
with other outside costs.
These are amounts that the design firm has paid to third
parties, usually for project supplies, materials or outside
services such as printing. They are recorded here at the amount
that was on the vendor's invoice to the design firm. These project
costs plus the markups added by the design firm will equal the
total billings to clients for outside services and materials
(discussed in the income section above).
This is a standard calculation that is used for businesses in
nearly every industry except for advertising (more about that
below). Your sales to clients minus the direct costs of those sales
(primarily labor and materials) equals the gross margin. After
projects have covered their own costs, the gross margin is the
additional amount that they have made available to the firm to be
used for other purposes.
This section of the P&L includes all general operating
expenses that are not directly related to any particular client
In each period, this is the portion of your payroll expense that
was not directly matched to hours spent on active client projects.
It includes marketing time, sick and vacation time, paid holidays,
staff meetings, and secretarial or administrative activities.
Typically this works out to roughly one-third of the payroll.
These include such things as rent, utilities, telephone,
insurance, employer taxes and benefits, as well as the cost of your
own marketing materials.
When design firms are profitable, it's common for bonuses or
incentive payments to be distributed to the various team members.
Most often these are discretionary rather than guaranteed, and they
might be determined on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. They
may include such things as matching payments to a 401(k) plan, some
type of general profit sharing, or perhaps individual bonuses to
those personally responsible for successful projects or
After any bonuses or incentives have been posted as expenses,
this is the remaining profit that will be reported for business tax
It's useful to look at each line item on the P&L as a
percentage of total business income. Most financial software does
this automatically. In design firms, it's also common to analyze
each category of expense as a percentage of labor billings only.
For the most part, graphic design firms concentrate on selling
their own services, so it's typical for labor billings to be the
major source of income. Material billings tend to be much smaller
because many design firms do not want to take on the potential
legal liabilities of brokering large amounts of printing or other
third-party services. If something goes wrong with a third-party
service such as printing, it's much safer for the designer if the
client made the purchase directly.
So far, our discussion has focused specifically on graphic
design firms. However, a few creative organizations are hybrids.
They take on traditional graphic design assignments and, at the
same time, create and manage advertising campaigns. This creates a
challenge in the area of financial reporting. For comparison
purposes, let's look at the standard P&L format that is used by
As you can see from the above sample, advertising agencies use a
P&L format that is quite different from the one used by graphic
design firms. A standard gross margin is not being calculated. This
is because a very large portion of advertising agency billings have
traditionally been for the resale of media and third party
services, rather than for staff labor. Large outside purchases such
as media placement are often referred to as “above the line” costs
or “pass-throughs.” This category also includes printing costs on
any projects where the agency acts in the role of a print broker.
The client is billed a list price-a marked-up amount that is higher
than what the agency paid to the third party. When the costs of
these large pass-throughs are subtracted from total billings, the
amount remaining reflects the agency commission that was earned and
the amount of any fee billings. Total billings minus all
pass-throughs equals the “agency gross income” (AGI). The AGI must
be large enough to cover all “below the line” costs (including all
payroll and overhead expenses) and still leave a net profit. For
this reason, each “below the line” line item on an advertising
agency's P&L can be analyzed in two different ways: as a
percentage of the firm's total billings, and as a percentage of
AGI. If your firm does not do advertising, you should not use the
In addition to fundamental business challenges such as
developing effective pricing and cost controls, maintaining
adequate cash and managing debt, there are two additional issues
that are important specifically for design firms: maintaining
balanced staffing and maintaining a healthy ratio of billable to
As a design-centered organization, your business will consist of
project teams supported by appropriate infrastructure. Overall
headcount must be tied to workload as closely as possible. This
means hiring very cautiously, particularly when it comes to support
positions. As an example, let's say that your firm has a total
staff of ten people. At least seven out of those ten employees must
have the potential of being highly billable. That includes creative
direction, design, production and project coordination. No more
than three out of the ten employees should be in support positions
that do not have the potential of being highly billable, such as
marketing and sales, finance, network administration/IT, reception
or secretarial. However, don't make the mistake of providing too
little support. Your office will not run smoothly at all if no one
is answering the phone and no one is balancing the books. The right
level of support frees up the design staff to concentrate on client
Next, you must make sure that your new business development
activities keep your office at or near your billable capacity.
Initial hiring decisions will determine the billable potential of
the firm but, once the staff is in place, you can only achieve that
potential if new business development brings in a constant stream
of appropriate new assignments. Strong billings will be the outcome
of a healthy workload and good time management.
What is the highest billable potential for an individual staff
position? To calculate this, start with the total of regularly
scheduled hours, then subtract all applicable vacation time, sick
time, paid holidays, staff meetings, administrative time and
marketing activities. The hours remaining will be the maximum
amount of regularly scheduled time that person has available to
devote to client projects.
For example, the target for a staff design or production
position might look something like this:
Many design firms state the billable target for each staff
position in the initial hiring letter or employment agreement.
Others negotiate targets at the beginning of each year. As a point
of comparison, some law firms and accounting offices determine
compensation on a scale, depending on how many billable hours the
individual agrees to produce. This works well for a law partner who
brings in his or her own accounts and bills on a time-and-materials
basis, but it is less appropriate for design teams billing clients
on a fixed-fee basis.
The actual billable percentage achieved by the entire firm will
be a combination of all the individuals involved. This statistic is
also called utilization or productivity. If you have the right
staff mix to begin with, and then maintain a good workload of
client assignments, total utilization for a graphic design firm
should be in the range of 60% to 65%. Below this range, the firm
will not be producing enough billable hours to sustain itself over
the long haul. A low billable percentage usually indicates that
there are too many non-billable people on the payroll and/or the
billable staff members have not been given enough client work to
do. At the other extreme, a long-term billable percentage above 65%
can indicate that the workload is too heavy. This brings the risk
of burnout for the team members producing the majority of the
billable client hours.
In analyzing the time spent on client projects, keep in mind
that there is a big difference between “billable” and
“collectible.” Even though someone reports extra project time, it
might not result in any additional money coming in from clients. If
an individual team member is falling short of his or her personal
target, it might be tempting to pad a timesheet or two with
additional “billable” hours. On a fixed-fee project, those hours
would just sink the budget without changing any invoice totals. In
a time-and-materials relationship, they would lead to very serious
problems. Honest and accurate time reporting is an absolute
A note about marketing staff: the example given above shows a
target of 30%, but the real billable target for a marketing
position will depend on how that role is structured in your
particular firm. If the role is defined primarily as an external
sales rep, then the billable percentage will be low. However, if
your new business development person also spends time participating
in active client projects as an account manager or a project
manager, then the billable percentage will be higher. You will have
to decide what mix of responsibilities is best in your own
In each pay period, track the actual billable percentage for the
full team and use it to split your total payroll dollars into the
two categories discussed above: direct labor (project time that is
included in the cost of sales) and indirect labor (non-project time
that is included in overhead).
Over time, you'll develop a sense of what the normal levels of
activity seem to be within your own firm, but you need to use
external references as well. Each month, compare your firm's
performance to a basic set of industry norms. Key financial
indicators fall into four categories: solvency, efficiency,
profitability and labor. Some of these are expressed as percentages
while others are expressed as multipliers or ratios. Each ratio is
the result of dividing one balance sheet or P&L item by
another, so it is focused on a specific financial relationship. In
each instance, the normal range varies quite a bit from industry to
industry. For your reference, here are explanations of key
indicators in the four main categories, along with standard
benchmarks for graphic design firms.
Solvency is your company's long-term ability to meet all of its
financial obligations. This is analyzed by comparing liabilities to
assets. There are several different variations of this debt to
assets comparison. You can look at just the current amounts, just
the long-term amounts, or the combined totals. When analyzing
solvency, assets other than cash can be taken into consideration
because it may be possible to liquidate them to serve as an
additional cushion against losses. It's advisable for design firms
to be very cautious about taking on debt. Although debt is not
necessarily “bad,” it does require timely payments of interest and
principal. The higher the level of debt that you take on, the more
important it is for your company to produce consistent profits and
steady cash flow. This can be difficult if work comes to you
primarily on a project-by-project basis and you have few, if any,
longer-term client contracts.
Formula: current assets/current liabilities
Typical range: 1.6 to 2.2
Explanation: This is a measure of short-run solvency, that is to
say the immediate ability of the firm to pay off short-term debts
as they come due (as well as to cover any unforeseen cash needs in
an unpredictable business environment). If you are thinking of
borrowing money or applying for credit from major suppliers, those
potential creditors will use this ratio as an indicator of how
likely it is that you will be able to make required payments in a
timely fashion. The 1.6 number stated above is not unusual for
design firms, but it is actually too low for comfort. It is much
better to have a current ratio of 2.1 or higher, indicating that
for every dollar of debt coming due within the next twelve months,
your firm has two dollars of cash (or assets that will convert to
cash in that period) available to meet the obligation.
Formula: (cash + accounts receivable)/total current
Typical range: 1.4 to 1.7
Explanation: This is sometimes called the “acid test” ratio
because it's a more rigorous test of short-run solvency. It
considers only cash, marketable securities (cash equivalents) and
accounts receivable, because they are your most liquid assets. A
quick ratio below the indicated range would not be considered
healthy because it would imply that you are dependent on less
liquid assets to cover short-term debt.
Formula: (current liabilities + long-term
Typical range: 1.1 or less
Explanation: Another way to look at solvency is to compare a
company's liabilities to its equity. This comparison is sometimes
called debt to worth, or the debt to equity ratio. It is a standard
measure used by banks to determine the health of your firm. A debt
to equity ratio lower than two to one is considered to be
reasonable and safe for most businesses, but the preferred limit
for design firms is one to one. A high debt to equity ratio is a
signal to creditors that a firm might be a credit risk because it
is too dependent on debt to finance operations. A firm in this
situation is described as highly leveraged, meaning that the amount
of debt is quite high in relation to the owners' equity.
In general terms, efficiency is the ratio of the output of any
system to the input. For design firms, this means how tightly you
run your business. It includes such useful measurements as how
quickly you collect money from clients, how heavily you rely on
vendors and how effectively you use your business assets.
Formula: accounts receivable/(annual sales/365 days)
Typical range: 58 to 68
Explanation: This is the average length of time it takes to
convert your sales into cash. There is a direct relationship
between accounts receivable and cash flow. A longer average
collection period means that more of your money is tied up in
accounts receivable and less cash is available for various other
uses, such as paying bills. As you can see from the typical range
listed here, many designers have difficulty enforcing the “net 30”
terms printed on their invoices to clients.
Formula: assets/annual sales
Typical range: 32% to 44%
Explanation: This is a general measure of your firm's ability to
generate sales in relation to your total business assets. As you
can guess, the best situation is to produce a high level of sales
with only a modest investment in assets.
Formula: accounts payable/annual sales
Typical range: 2.4 to 4.2
Explanation: This measures the relative speed with which your
company pays suppliers. If your numbers are higher than the typical
range listed here, it is an indication that you are using vendors'
assets (the cash that you owe to them) to fund your own
This is a very important category of financial comparison with
other firms in your industry. There are three measures here that
you will want to examine closely.
Formula: (annual sales-annual cost of sales)/annual sales
Typical range: 42% to 53%
Explanation: As explained in the P&L definitions above, the
gross margin is the amount of money that, after they have covered
their own direct labor and material costs, projects have made
available to the firm for other purposes. If the gross margin is
below the range indicated here, you should look at cutting project
costs and/or increasing your prices (and maybe even reconsidering
the mix of services that you are offering).
Formula: net profit before incentives/annual sales
Typical range: 8% to 11%
Explanation: Targets in some creative firms may range as high as
20%, but most graphic design firms are happy if they achieve an
actual net profit of 10% for the year. Out of this profit, you will
have to decide how much money, if any, can be awarded to team
members as discretionary bonuses, profit sharing payments or 401(k)
Formula: net profit before taxes/annual sales
Typical range: 2% to 6%
Explanation: After discretionary incentives and bonuses have
been recorded, this is the amount of profit that would be reported
for business tax purposes.
Formula: net profit before taxes/total assets
Typical range: 6% to 14%
Explanation: This compares the pre-tax earnings to total
business assets. The higher the number, the greater the return on
assets. However, the desire to produce greater profits using fewer
assets has to be balanced against other important considerations
such as risk, sustainability and necessary reinvestment in the
In a design firm, labor is the most important resource. It is
the largest single expense and it generates the majority of income.
To be successful, you need to monitor the following labor
indicators very closely.
Formula: labor billings/direct labor costs
Typical range: 2.8 to 4.0
Explanation: This is sometimes called the net effective
multiplier or the direct labor multiplier. It is an important
comparison of your project labor expense to the related client fees
that are being generated. As a multiplier, it indicates that each
$1.00 of direct labor expense typically generates about $3.50 in
fee billings. Needless to say, a multiplier of 4.5 or 5.0 would be
Formula: total annual sales/average number of employees during
Typical range: $150K to $200K
Explanation: This can vary greatly, based on how you choose to
do business. If you broker a lot of third party services or have
large pass-throughs like media placement, this number can be much
higher than the range indicated here.
Formula: annual labor billings only/average number of employees
during the year
Typical range: $100K to $125K
Explanation: For most graphic design firms, this is a more
reliable indicator of labor efficiency than total income per
employee because it is not distorted by large billings for
materials, printing or other outside services.
Formula: direct labor costs/total base salaries
Typical range: 59% to 69%
Explanation: As explained in the P&L definitions above, this
is your direct labor utilization rate. In each pay period, this
identifies the portion of total staff labor that related to active
client projects. Over the long haul, most graphic design firms seek
to maintain a chargeability rate of around 65%.
Formula: (direct labor costs + operating expenses)/direct labor
Typical range: 2.5 to 3.0
Explanation: This includes indirect labor and all other general
and administrative costs (payroll taxes, benefits, utilities, rent,
etc.) but not incentives or business taxes. As a multiplier, this
means that for every $1.00 of direct payroll spent on projects, the
typical design firm incurs an additional $2.75 of indirect
Formula: (operating expenses + other expenses + interest
expense) /direct labor costs
Typical range: 1.6 to 2.3
Explanation: Here, overhead expenses are calculated more broadly
to include such things as the interest paid on loans, but it still
does not include incentives or business taxes. The overhead
multiplier tends to decrease when the firm is busy. Lower is
better. In good times, workloads increase and project schedules are
tighter, which causes more of the payroll to be recorded as direct
labor and less to be absorbed as overhead.
There are many things that you can do to maintain good financial
health. For starters, make sure that you calculate a reliable
budget for every project and build a reasonable profit into your
client pricing. Then, strive to complete each project on budget.
Even when you are busy with active projects, keep an eye on your
backlog (some firms call it the “pipeline.”), which is the amount
of client work that you have committed to do in the coming months.
An increase or decrease in that backlog is a strong indicator of
future sales and, by extension, an indicator of future profits or
losses. Stay on top of this by maintaining a detailed projection of
your firm's expected workload and billings. It should include
current projects that are winding down, newly signed contracts that
are ramping up, and potential projects that you are just now
pitching. The value of the latter must of course be factored back
to reflect your probability of landing them. The goal of the
projection is to see how much of your firm's capacity is booked in
each of the coming periods so that you can fine-tune your sales
efforts and make any necessary adjustments to headcount.
It's also wise to set some specific goals for the firm at the
start of each business year. Goals should be aggressive enough that
you and your team have to stretch to reach them, but never so
wildly optimistic or unrealistic that they cannot be achieved.
Consider setting targets for each type of work that you do:
Also consider setting targets that are client-related:
Staying on track involves setting internal goals that are
attainable and verifiable, capturing and measuring your actual
activity completely and consistently, and benchmarking your firm's
performance against that of your professional peers. Being
successful also requires that you constantly look for and adjust to
trends in your clients' industries and in the general economy.
Shel Perkins is a graphic designer, management consultant and educator with more than twenty years of experience in managing the operations of leading design firms in the U.S. and the U.K. He has served on the national boards of AIGA and the Association
of Professional Design Firms. He has been honored as an AIGA Fellow "in recognition of significant personal and professional contributions to raising the standards of excellence within the design community." The third edition of his best-selling book, Talent
Is Not Enough: Business Secrets For Designers, is available from New Riders.
As an entrepreneur, you need a system that will enable you to monitor the progress of your business, keep track of income and expenses, and prepare accurate tax returns. Here are some strategies.
Section: Tools and Resources -
finances, studio management
Discover an area where the freedom of the creative process and the constraints of sound business procedures overlap, and learn best practices to successfully intertwine the two.
Section: Tools and Resources -
The AIGA Design Business and Ethics series outlines the critical ethical and professional issues encountered by designers and their clients.
Section: Tools and Resources -
illustration, photography, contracts, copyright, legal issues
What happens when a company hires 100 designers—simultaneously? In late 2013 IBM did just that when they debuted IBM Design, a dedicated in-house studio. Their design studio director shares a behind-the-scenes look at how the newly formed team has navigated for possibilities rather than outcomes.
Section: Inspiration -
INitiative, in-house design, strategy, corporate design, innovation
Design methodologies add value to the visual arts curriculum by teaching the practical and purposeful
application of creative thinking—the very definition of innovation. So why has design education been largely absent in conversations about K12 education reform?
Section: Tools and Resources
San Francisco, CaliforniaJuly 30 2015
20 illustrations in 6 hours, by MVM
May 19, 2015
CASITEAM (Dawn Schaefer)
RT @AIGAdesign: Apply to compete in @Shutterstock's live design battle #PixelsofFury @ #AIGAdesign Conference: http://t.co/0S7dC5YB66 http:…
4 hours ago
VSA Partners, Inc.
Benjamin Mackey: ‘Twin Peaks Tarot’ is a brilliant tribute
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