Welcome to another Saturday freelancer chat. We’ve talked to a telemarketing company owner and an Excel whizz (and one day I’ll post my story) and now it’s time for a design company. Dave Bradburn of Opus Creative Design is another 4N member (I had a lovely lot of replies to my post in their forums asking for interviewees) and he’s been going for a bit longer than some of us. Dave reminds us here that it’s important sometimes to get input from an outside person, as well as building our businesses from the inside.
1. What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
Opus Creative Design Ltd. Set up in April 2007.
2. What made you decide to set up your own business?
I’d always had the ambition to start my own company. I got to a stage where I felt I was experienced enough as a graphic designer to set up on my own, and remember looking at what some of my employers were doing and (perhaps naively!) thinking “I could do that”. The timing was also after I’d got married and before we started a family and gained the commitments (financial and otherwise) that would have made it more difficult to drop the regular income and step into the unknown.
3. What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I studied graphic design and typography at university and then worked as a designer for about ten years before setting up Opus. I suppose I just gradually found that path as I chose the subjects I was going to study at the various stages through school.
4. Had you run your own business before?
5. How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I went straight in full-time, although I’d always done the odd bit of freelance work at home whilst I was an employee. For the first couple of years I mainly went in to established design agencies, working as a freelancer in their studios. During that time I gradually built up my own client base through networking and referrals, etc. As the recession hit, much of that work dried up, but I was at the stage where I was intending to move away from that model anyway. I now work exclusively from my own offices, although I do a small amount of work on a ‘white label’ basis for other marketing or design agencies.
6. What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
That sales are harder than just rolling up and asking for the work! I really wish I’d overcome my reluctance to get out there and network much sooner than I did.
7. What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
To get out there and get myself seen and known rather than waiting for everything to be in place and for the conditions to be perfect – they rarely are.
8. What do you wish you’d done differently?
As with all new businesses, I spent money where I needn’t have bothered and prioritised some things which should have been way down the list.
9. What are you glad you did?
One of my key decisions was realising that there were some vast areas that I needed help and advice with. I employed the services of a business consultant who gave me a huge boost in knowledge, skills and confidence in those areas and told me (against my better judgement) to get out networking!
10. What’s your top business tip?
To network and to be yourself, not who you think other people will expect you to be. To spend time working out what benefits you can bring to your clients and to focus on informing prospective clients about those benefits.
11. How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
Some months have been better than others. It’s been a fair old learning curve, but overall it’s been a big success and I have no regrets about leaving the safety of my old job to set up on my own. The company is now growing and I’m increasingly bringing more people into the business in one way or another. Broadly speaking I provide the same services that I set out to provide (logo creation and branding advice, print and website design) but I’ve changed the focus in certain areas as things have developed.
12. Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
It’s likely that it will have moved to dedicated offices (rather than at home) and there will be more people involved on a regular basis. At the same time I will maintain and improve on the service offered to my clients.
Opus Creative Design is based at 1 Lynswood Court, Park Lane, Pickmere, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 0JX. Dave’s phone number is 01565 659089 and his mobile is 07801 827345. The website is www.opuscreative.co.uk and Dave can also be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Thank you for an interesting interview, Dave, and I look forward to hearing about your new offices when I check in with you in a year’s time! (and see what happened when I did here).
Click here for more freelancer chat. I’ve got a really interesting one coming up next week …