I’m Jeff Wortham, creator of Design Pro Success Stories. I created this website as the home for the Design Pro Success Stories Podcast and Blog. More importantly, I created this site as a gathering place for our community of Architects, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers. We serve the same clients and work with one another much of the time. Because of that, our business models are very similar, so I feel we can learn a lot from the stories and strategies we each have to share.
The Business of a Design Pro
I have owned my own Landscape Architectural firm for over 23 years as of 2014. During those years there have been some major ups and downs in my career like most business owners. As we come out of the Great Recession a lot has changed. The rate of change in technology and all that it affects had me going back to school to learn more updated ways to market and run my business. During that period I fell in love with sharing ideas and learning from others what is working and what isn’t. It occurred to me that after over 25 years as a Landscape Architect I had more passion for the business side of things than I did for design. I’m pretty sure this puts me in the minority, but I’m used to that.
It struck me that most people begrudgingly deal with the business side of what they do so they can do the design they love. Because business skills were not part of our design education, we are ill prepared to run businesses as Design Professionals. I also realized I don’t talk about business with any of the other Design Pros I know except to ask how business is. Seems silly, but when you ask around, most small business owners aren’t sharing information. We have been conditioned to think that everyone will steal our good ideas and we won’t do was well somehow. I also think that we may be embarrassed to show our hand on how much we don’t understand.
Teach a Man to Fish…
If you go fishing, it is common to ask the people catching fish what they are using for bait and even how deep they are fishing. I have never heard anyone refuse to tell! As a matter of fact, you would be surprised at how much detail they will give. I have had others give me lures they used that were working!
Maybe this is why I don’t have a problem sharing information with the community. I believe there are clients enough for all of us, and the type of work we want to focus on. Understanding how to connect with clients through marketing, produce drawings more efficiently, manage our projects and time better, and so forth doesn’t take anything away from those who share the information. It does allow us to add a meaningful contribution to thousands of other businesses potentially, and that’s all good in my book.
There are so many Podcasts now where people are sharing information on how to be successful. It makes sense to me that our community of Landscape Architects, Architects and Interior Designers can benefit from each others hard earned wisdom on how we have made it work and where we have really succeeded and made meaningful distinctions. I think most people like to help others and what better way to do it then in a venue where that knowledge is truly appreciated and needed by the community.
What’s So Great About a Podcast?
I have listened to over 250 books in the last 5 years on my Iphone. I love that I can be learning while driving, exercising, drawing(yes, I still draw by hand) or eating lunch. Like audio books, Podcasts can be listened to on your computer, tablet or on a mobile device like a smart phone or Ipod. As designers, we have a lot of time when we can listen to something while working or commuting. I sometimes listen to 3 or more hours of audio a day. You can also pause it and start back up whenever you want. When I start my car, it automatically starts playing where I last paused the Podcast.
Connecting a Community
One day I heard a Podcast called ‘Entrepreneur on Fire’. Much like the marketing community I am now a part of, this podcast is built on the idea of sharing success stories and learning from others what has worked in an endless number of businesses. The generosity, openness and honesty of these business owners is so refreshing and educational that I thought, ‘I want to be part of that community.’ I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot to offer that large community. I do know I have a lot to add to this community. Because of my curiosity and the time and money I have spent learning and testing so many business ideas, I am uniquely qualified and happy to share those with you.
I have learned and applied a lot of strategies and ideas to build a very successful business, even during the different recessions we have had in 20+ years. In 2011 we grew 38% and in 2012 we grew 39% using the most recent strategies I had learned. I love the idea of helping other Design Professionals build better businesses so they can focus on whatever part of those businesses they most enjoy. My story and what I do will not work for a lot of other designers. That is the power of many stories. There will be something for everyone.
Many Paths to Success
What the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast made me realize is, there is no single path to success. I love listening to all of the different interviews and stories. It is inspiring and empowering because it means that we can take our particular strengths and apply them with the right strategies and be successful. The missing ingredient is hearing success strategies that resonate for each of us. This is where the stories come in. It can only help us as a community and make us closer by sharing the collective wisdom of as many Design Pros as there are willing participants.
One of the things I find myself doing when I take classes or listen to a good interview is writing down the resources people share. It’s never been easier to check things out, so I do and some of the best things I have connected with come from that sharing. I intend to create the best business resource site for Design Professionals – Architects, Landscape Architects & Interior Designers on the web. Who better to create the list than those who are successfully running businesses? Like wikipedia or Houzz, designers will be the content suppliers so that others can learn from them.
I will also bring in experts in marketing, technology, time management, team building and other things that affect our businesses. By keeping up to date and knowing you can find current information here it will become a great resource for our community.
Interviewees will be asked for their favorite resources and they will be shared in the show notes as well as the resource pages. Please visit the Resources tab and look around through the various resources that others have found useful. Sometimes just getting pointed in the right direction can save you years of wandering and loads of money.
I invite you to get involved, first by listening to the podcasts and reading the blog. If you are an Architect, Landscape Architect or Interior Design Professional and have a story to share please contact us and we can look at having you on the Podcast. The next thing you can do is Like Us on Facebook and share this link (podcast page) with other Design Pros or students in these areas to grow and connect our community. It also helps if you give a positive review on Itunes for the Podcast so we get even more visibility to those who haven’t discovered us yet. Thank you, and enjoy Design Pro Success Stories.
Thank you, and enjoy Design Pro Success Stories.