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Tag Archives: Consulting

How Decisive Are You?

By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

There is a wonderful quote I found that states:  “Be decisive.  Right or wrong, make a decision.  The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” (Author unknown).   How quickly do you make decisions?

Too often we see designers who get so frustrated with clients who can’t make decisions (a quick decision maker might be something to add to your “ideal client profile”!), and yet those same designers may not have stopped to realize that they are not quick decision makers for their own business.  They may be plagued by what we often refer to as “analysis paralysis” – or overanalyzing and over researching the situation.

In an article by John Whittaker, marketing director of information management solutions at Dell Software, he states: “There’s a growing tendency in business today, from seasoned executives and newly minted MBAs alike, to overanalyze things. Because we’re in a digital age where there’s so much information available, we tend to think that, regardless of where we are in the decision-making process, there’s always more information out there that could help us better determine the right course of action ….”.  Does that sound like you?

One way to speed up the process is to do a quick SWOT analysis.  This process is something I learned a number of years ago when first introduced to strategic planning and I have found it one of the most valuable tools to use.  SWOT is the acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  When using the SWOT analysis, you are identifying your firm’s internal strengths and weaknesses as well as the external opportunities and threats.  Make a quick list for each of the 4 categories.  It will help you focus on your firm’s strengths, minimize threats and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to your firm.

Whether the decision relates to taking on a challenging client/job, restructure your business or make adjustments to your model, expand your business or solidify what you have but increase profits — whatever the decision you are grappling with, calendar the time and then gather the information, do a SWOT analysis and then move forward!

There is so much information available that it’s easy for leaders to get caught up in what we call “analysis paralysis” and become unable to make a decision.  But remember, the most important quality a leader, and CEO of a firm can have is decisiveness.

You can’t be afraid to make a mistake.  After all, you can always make a course correction if needed, but more importantly is the fact that you cannot make up for failing to take action when that action was needed.  So keep reminding yourself that making the wrong decision is not the end of the world and as actress Keri Russell states, “Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.”

So do that SWOT analysis, make that decision, and take action.

Actions prove who someone is.  Words prove who they want to be.

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Brush Up on Business Etiquette

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

My more experienced clients sometimes confide in me how shocked they are by their junior designers’ lack of proper business etiquette. You could chalk it up to differences in age or generational values. It has occurred to me, though, that there might be more to it than that. If this is their first job in a design firm, they may not know any better. In that case, you need to explain to them the facts of business life.

Part of becoming a professional is learning how to conduct oneself in various business situations. The young designers I meet understand the importance of social etiquette. They have learned from an early age how to get along and tend to be friendly and respectful. While you need social skills to succeed in any profession, business etiquette has its own set of rules that must be learned and mastered. Even in today’s more casual business environment, a certain amount of formality and propriety is still required.

When onboarding new hires, take time to review with them your expectations regarding business etiquette. At minimum, you should discuss your firm’s policies on the following:

  • Punctuality – Arriving to work, meetings, installations, etc. on time is an essential trait of professionalism. Tardiness is not only disrespectful; it is a waste of others’ valuable time.
  • Dress – Clothing should be suitable to the workplace, not sports or leisure wear nor too revealing. For business meetings, dress should be more formal, in keeping with the client’s or business associate’s norms.
  • Communications – External emails and other forms of communication should be clear, coherent, contain sufficient detail to solicit or provide the needed response, and be free of informal slang, abbreviations, misspellings, grammatical errors, etc.
  • Technology – Maintain separate accounts for business and personal communications, data sharing, social networking, etc. Adhere to the firm’s policy on use of devices during meetings. Never put in writing something you would not want another coworker, client or business associate to see.
  • Meetings – Arrive on time and come prepared to contribute. Stay engaged and show respect when others are speaking and for differences of opinion. Participate but do not dominate the conversation.

Whether an inexperienced designer or a frazzled professional, it pays to be mindful of proper business etiquette. Like all good manners, it is most noticed when it’s not followed.

Continue reading Brush Up on Business Etiquette

Know Your Value & Charge What You’re Worth

By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
Photo by Dana McGrath

Are you truly charging what you’re worth? Do you ever find yourself questioning whether to cut your fee to “capture” a client/job?

I’m sure you have heard the advice before to focus on value, not on price. But do your actions show that you are acting on this advice or just nodding your head and then retreating to a fear mentality – what if I’m charging too much?

As in so many areas of life, changing mindset is the key to changing behavior. But first examine if you really want to change – or would you rather be the “poor me” character? After all, there are those who really don’t want any help to change, they just want someone to listen to them whine. You may need to be honest with yourself and admit if this is you.

So, first ask yourself what are your goals when you engage in fear mentality? What do you get out of that type of behavior?

Then ask yourself what you can do to stop this behavior – and are you really serious about stopping it?

Now, if you’re truly serious about learning how to charge what you’re worth, you can do so, and to help, here are 3 key things to practice.

1. Don’t be the designer offering your services/products for less. It’s really as simple as making that decision and adhering to it. Congratulations – you’re on
your way!

2. Understand your value. Set time aside to spend with someone who will be honest with you and help you understand the true value you provide to your
clients. This can be a friend, ideal client, or one of the resources with whom you work, but it helps to have that outside view when brainstorming. This activity
needs to be top priority and will greatly help change your mindset. Ask yourself some questions such as how long it took you to acquire your expertise? How
much have you invested in improving your proficiency? How long have you been in design? On a scale of 1 to 10 where was your expertise when you first
started and where are you now? What new information, tools, etc. have you added to your business in the past year? How has this added to your value?

3. Identify and then work with your ideal clients. Often the clients who are so price-focused will be the ones who are the most challenging. They are the ones
who often create self-doubt and who leave you feeling frustrated and undervalued. If you want to charge what you’re worth you must market to those clients
who will value your services and will therefore pay you accordingly.

The change may not happen overnight, but eliminate those negative beliefs and surround yourself with those who will support you on this journey. Make it a habit for your team to start each day posting a positive quote or statement and don’t let negativity get hold. Make it fun – and be sure to celebrate the successes!

Continue reading Know Your Value & Charge What You’re Worth

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