Design Enterprise: Money Matters

Today was our very last lecture for this semester which was actually pretty disappointing since I have enjoyed attending the lectures every week and getting to listen to really interesting and diverse designers working in the real world. Our first speaker today was Alisdair McGill who is a finance director and helps businesses be better with their management and finance skills. His talk today was so helpful whether we wished to start our own business or not.

He explained to us the different types of businesses available (Sole Trader, Limited Company, Partnership and Community Interest Company (CIC)) and went on to explain how these worked money wise. Which, as a designer, I find quite intimidating. I’ve never been good with numbers but from listening to Alisdair talk today, it was clear that many designers he works with aren’t good with numbers; but learn and seek advice.

He also gave us advice on how to price our products which is always a tricky subject and he also said many many designers end up under pricing their products because they under value what they’ve made (usually due to lack of confidence within their work.) So it was really interesting to hear that confidence within yourself and your talent is a key point when it comes to pricing and something I definitely need to work on!

His top tips were very helpful and facts that would come in handy if you were starting a business or just venturing into the world of work.

  • ‘Learn the business stuff – there’s no nobility in poverty.’
  • ‘Cash is King – manage it wisely! What can you get or do for free?’
  • ‘Embed Service Design in everything you do.’
  • ‘Ask for help.’
  • ‘Have fun!’

Our second speaker was Nicholas O’Donnell Hoare who originally graduated as a Jewellery Designer but now focuses his work on Service Design and creating products that will enhance people’s daily lives. He also experiments with new and upcoming technologies such as 3D printing.

Last semester during my Critical Making module, I had actually met him during one of our classes and he ran a really interesting workshop creativity. During the workshop we had to list as many different uses we could think of for a paper clip!

So, today’s lecture was a familiar one but he was still interesting and definitely had a great knowledge of the world he was working in. And he also proved that no matter what you may be studying at University and whichever discipline you decide to focus on; it doesn’t define you for the rest of your working life. It is merely a start off point and something that has developed you as a designer. But the skills you learn throughout your degree can be altered to fit any road you wish to go down. Which I think is a very important message, because whilst at University you can forget that there are many other areas of design as well as what you’ve chosen to do.

Simply, ‘don’t pigeon hole yourself.’


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