Becoming more efficient is something every business can benefit from. It helps you to work faster and more accurately, ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.
Solopreneur designers can benefit even more from increasing their efficiency because their margins for error and wastage are so much smaller — an inefficient project could be the difference between your company taking the next step or going under.
We’ve highlighted four ways you can become more efficient. Read them now and then put them into practice today.
Start by focussing on a single niche (not everything)
Design is an extremely broad discipline.
Graphics, animation, and motion are just three of the many types of interconnected designers. Chances are that you can do many (if not all) of the specialisms that are linked to the type of design work you do. And chances are that you’ll be tempted to pick up any related work.
This is an inefficient way of working, particularly when you’re a solopreneur.
The reason for this is that you won’t excel at all of these things. The result is that you’ll take longer to do the design work you can do, but aren’t as experienced in. This could see your projects running into a position where you’re making little money from them.
Your solution is to be a specialist (a master of one, not an adequate of some) by focusing on a few things you’re great at.
Your business will become more efficient because of this, as you’ll be able to work quicker and more accurately. You’ll then expand your portfolio and will be able to charge more for your work. You may also be able to get recommendations from your clients and broaden your client base.
And once you’ve built yourself up you can start to broaden your specialisms.
Create a clear client briefing process
Work is wasted when you create something a client doesn’t want.
They won’t accept the work you’ve delivered. They’ll ask you to start again. And they may not pay you for the time that you’ve already spent on it, pending on the terms of the agreement that you entered into with them.
This is an inefficient way of running a business. The solution is to have a briefing process.
Client briefs are the perfect way to get the people you’re working for to tell you exactly what they want in a way from the projects you’ve signed up to. They outline their KPIs and expectations, enabling you to build a picture of what the end product should look like.
You can design your own, bespoke client briefing doc. However, a more efficient way of doing it is to take an existing example and then make it fit your needs.
Smartsheet has an excellent example. Its creative brief template includes a range of helpful sections that allows your client to explain what’s needed, who it’s for, and the budget that’s been allocated. Using this template (or your own version) will make your business more efficient by making sure your work is completely accurately and within budget.
Use the right equipment for your work
You need to have the correct equipment if you’re going to work efficiently.
You need a laptop you’re comfortable with and that operates at the right speed. You need software that allows you to fulfill the briefs you’re given. And you need the accessories that enable you to set up an optimal workstation.
These things can be taken for granted but not having them in place will make you inefficient.
Everyone has their own preferences for the equipment that works best for them. Your task is to know what’s right for you and then ensure that you have it. This is because it allows you to work at the correct pace, as you’ll be familiar with the tools at your disposal.
Apple Macs are renowned for being great tools for designers. They’re an ideal tool to use. There’s a huge range of software that you can use for design work and Adobe has a great selection. You also need the right equipment for your workstation. This ranges from things as small as audio cables up to things as large as an ergonomic chair. The point is that it’s whatever the right equipment is for you — for your method of working and way of operating.
Good workers never blame their tools because they have the right ones. Bad workers blame their tools because they have the wrong ones. So, make sure you have everything in place to be able to work in the most efficient way possible.
Work at optimal times (where possible)
Lockdown has forced changes in work habits.
Many people are working from home, having client meetings on Zoom, and communicating with remote teams. While these are some of the more obvious changes to work patterns, one of the most significant has been to the hours’ people work — especially creatives.
The onus during lockdown has been on efficiency and optimizing how people work. This means that if you can extract more productivity by working outside the normal 9-5 pattern then you should do so (where possible).
There’s a science to optimising your work times. Indeed, John Trougakos, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto in Canada, explains that 75% of workers are at their most efficient from 9 am-11 am. Another study highlights that sleepiness peaks at 2 p.m., making it an inefficient time to work.
Another important thing to consider is the type of work you’re doing. This is because problems that need you to use open-ended thinking are best worked on during the evening.
What can we take from these things? The most efficient way for you to work is to tackle problems in the evening, put the solutions into place the following morning from 9-11, and cut out the middle part of your day. So, where possible, use this pattern and your business will become more efficient.
Focussing on a single niche, creating a clear client briefing process, getting the right equipment, and working at the optimal times are all great ways to make your business more efficient.
So, put the advice from this article into practice now and your company will soon see the benefits.