Why Designers Would Make Great Entrepreneurs

I believe designers have good prerequisites to become great entrepreneurs, but many of them don’t take advantage of that. There are so many talented people on this planet but if you look closer not everyone is successful and sometimes even struggling to make a living.

Being a designer myself I can tell that most of the time I’m really focused on my craft and becoming better, so I never really thought about creating my own businesses. Designing functional & beautiful products that people would love and trying to change the world was always on top of the list *haw haw haw*. Sounds familiar? This is actually something that probably could be applied to 90% of all designers out there. We just have strange values. But lately I came more and more to the conclusion that Design and Entrepreneurship should go hand in hand and if we want to create great products that are going to sell we should learn to understand the psychology of business.

Background doesn’t matter

I believe that it doesn’t really matter from which creative industry you are from, wether it is architecture, industrial design, fashion or digital etc. I believe that when it comes to business it only matters how determined you are rather than what area you came from and what tools you use. You can learn everything.

One of the biggest advantages all designers supposedly have in common is not only the sense for aesthetics(hopefully), but also the ability to take on challenges and solve problems by leveraging their “creative mind” (problem solving skill). The education most of us received is quite diverse and let us became great allrounders before we enter our professional career. At university we learned to handle different challenges and constraints due to always changing projects. We learned to use different tools for different situations that lets us tackle various kind of problems. This diversification is a great workout for our brain which functions like a muscle. The more we practice, the stronger it becomes. The more diverse challenges are, the more neuron connections are build and smarter we get.

Don’t stop Learning

Yet, in order to become successful entrepreneurs we need to learn to let certain things go, change our mindset and acquire a totally new set of skills. One of the most important skills entrepreneurs have is : Selling. At the end of the day, the most brilliant idea or beautiful product is nothing worth if you can’t sell it. But unfortunately when we enter our professional career and start to work for companies we tend to narrow our field of view and rather become specialists.

Designers are definitely not better than the rest and make betterentrepreneurs. I don’t believe this is true, especially when you start out and here are two reasons why I think we are even worse:

1. Obsession about the details

We just care too much about our craft that makes us vulnerable. We often tend to lose focus and spend to much time on improving nitty gritty details, changing things forth and back. It is nothing bad though to be thorough and always striving for the best. It is a good character trait. But in some situations it is not always the most efficient one. Many times the strive to get better at our craft blinds us from seeing all parts of the puzzle. We just feel more tempted to work for big companies that offer opportunities to work on many kind of projects that lets us grow and evolve, instead of considering to start something on our own.

2. Being the stubborn unicorn

Another thing I’ve observed being a designer is that we are talking a lot about sharing and collaboration, but at the end of the day many of us still want to create unique things and try to be better than others because we just have a competitive mindset by nature. I’m pretty sure that every designer had to go through this situation of joining an existing project and noticing that things could have been done “better”, instead of trying to build on and move forward fast. There is absolutely nothing bad about being ambitious and being competitive because these are things that will keep us moving forward. Nevertheless, sometimes it is better for us to step back and look at the bigger picture and learn to suppress our inner designer instinct of trying to reinvent the wheel.

Focus on the bigger vision

If you look at the entrepreneur in contrast, entrepreneurs are able to be more flexible and care less about the details of certain things, because the focus lies on the bigger vision. If things don’t contribute enough to the vision, they will get less priority and it is easier to let things go. Not being an expert in any specific field but rather knowing a bit of every field makes an entrepreneur smarter and give them the ability to bring people from different fields together to ship stuff. Great Entrepreneurs are great leaders because they have people skill. They are not necessarily the smartest people in the room, but they know how to handle smarter people and are willing to compromise in order to reach the bigger goal.

The reason why I still believe that designers could make great entrepreneurs is because both are great at problem solving and have empathy for the user/customer. Both have the ability to react to arising challenges and can adapt to situations as they go and both usually want the best for the user or customer.

If we designers can learn the basic traits of entrepreneurs and become more open minded, keep growing in other areas than our own and learn how businesses work, then we can create a powerful combination of skills that will make us more successful in the long run.