I’ve had the opportunity to give a talk on Davao City’s prestigious Graphicon 4 event. By the way, Graphicon is a conference that is targeted among graphic designers, animators, or any profession in the graphics industry.
Although my talk was for people with a graphics profession, I think young entrepreneurs would also benefit from this as well. What I am about to write below are tips or lesson’s I have learned for 3 years running a business. Maybe I will write again in the next 5 years with the same topic to see if what I will advise to young artists or entrepreneurs would be the same.
So here it is.
Tip no. 1 – Sometimes you get what you want, just not in ways you’d expect
Sometimes in life you are chasing for something only to realise that you already have what you were chasing. When I was young I always have dreamt to be an animator creating feature films. Many years later, I became a motion graphics animator creating explainer videos. And now most of my work involves managing the team and handling clients. I didn’t became an animator for Disney or Pixar but I have a company that does motion graphics animation or explainer videos. I think that’s pretty good too!
Tip no. 2 – It’s not about talent it’s about luck. Talent just increase your chances
Some say if you have the talent you can be anyone. Some say that hard work can get you far. I say it’s really about luck. No matter how good you are or how hard working you are if the right person doesn’t see that nothing happens. That is not to say that hard work and talent means nothing, of course if the right person sees you and you have nothing to show then nothing happens. So those three factors come into play: Talent or Hard work and Luck. You can’t really do anything about luck but you still can do something about working hard and increasing your chances. So improve your craft or work on your idea and get out there.
Tip no. 3 – Be delusional, be crazy but stay on your ground
When I started my career as a motion graphics designer, I had no talent on it or whatsoever. My works were horrible! I wondered why prospect clients wouldn’t choose me. But I was delusional, I was confident in my skills even though in reality I had no skills to begin with. So I thought maybe its just that I need a graphics tablet, and during the time buying a graphics tablet would cost all of my savings. But I was delusional, I was confident that a graphics tablet would do the trick. So I bought one and although it didn’t land me the project during the time, eventually it did. By being delusional, I was able to improve my skills and eventually landed a project.
Tip no. 4 – It’s not about the tools, it’s about the skills
One of the misconception in the graphics industry and maybe in other industries as well is that they think if the tools are updated the skills would follow as well. So no matter what software you are using or what equipment, if you don’t possess the skills then the output will remain the same. You should invest in honing your skills and if better equipment will help you then go and buy that, but don’t expect you will be better at what you do overnight. The tools will only improve what you already have.
Tip no. 5 – Build connections and help others but don’t expect anything in return
No matter how good you are or if have lots of experience, you will still need to build connections to succeed. One way to build connections is to help people along the way. But the catch is don’t expect anything in return. You may want to help a certain person or go out of your way to fulfil their request because they have the ‘potential’ to help you succeed. Trust me the only connection you get from those would be a toxic one. In my experience one of the best connections I’ve had are those that I helped before with no expectations, and it turns out those people would return years later to help your business. You should connect for the sake of connecting not because you want to get something out of it, and if you have this mindset you will find people who thinks the same, and it may not be now or it may not be in ways you’d expect but if they see an opportunity I believe they will return the favour.
Tip no. 6 – The customer is always right even if they’re not
Throughout our career, we will encounter different types of clients or customers. Some clients are easy to handle and there are some that are difficult. And most of the times they have this idea on what they want for the product or service. As long as they are within the boundary of what we can call fair, they are always right. If they want a service to be in a certain way and if that is what you provide then you should probably do it. Sometimes the client’s decision is not always the best for the product or service but you should do it anyway. Why? Because they are the client and they paid for the service. What I do however is that I would give the client options and explain what I think for each “if we do it your way here are the pros and cons and if we do it our way here are the pros and cons”. This way the client is not blind on what’s happening. You have the experience, you are the ‘experts’ therefore you have the obligation to educate your clients or customers. And if they still want it their way then they should get it. But of course this is only if its within the boundaries of what is valid.
Tip no. 7 – Learn to take risks and make lots of them
Most of us, we are afraid to take risks. We can think “what if it doesn’t pushes through?”. But in business or in our career, nothing is without risks anymore. You can also think of it as not taking a risk as a risk in itself. Whether you call or fold, both has risks. The world is moving fast and if you stay put you might get left behind the race. Sometimes in our careers we need to jump off a river even if we don’t know how to swim and we’ll just figure out along the way, because maybe a wolf was just behind us, and waiting there would get us killed.
Tip no. 8 – Accept that you are not the best. Others’ ideas maybe better than yours
As we go along, there is a tendency that we will put pride in ourselves. While confidence is good, pride usually damages our work and our growth. And if we put pride first there is a tendency we would be pulling other people down instead of hearing them out and making the work much much better. Keep in mind, that no matter how good you are there will always be someone who is better. Your idea might be good but there might be someone in the room with a better idea. You should listen to those people.
Tip no. 9 – Do not put a design because you can but because you have to
One of the mistakes we do as an artist is that in our works we tend to showcase our skills. And sometimes these are not necessary anymore and most of the times makes the work unclear. Content is the king. We put in a design not because we can but because it needs to be there. We put in a design because its necessary to communicate the idea. In most of the times, the simplest concept or design, is the best way to convey the message.
Tip no. 10 – Believe in yourself. If you won’t no one will.
How will a prospect client believe in you and trust you if you yourself doesn’t believe? Before you can convince anyone of who you are and what you want to achieve, you should convince yourself first. if you do believe in yourself and still no one will, at least there will always be one person who do, and I think that will always be enough.