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Managing your mindset as a designer - Q&A from Brunch by the Beach Christchurch

This Q&A session explores the often-overlooked aspect of entrepreneurship: mindset. Nicole, Serena, and Abby, three designers, open up about the mental and emotional facets of running a business. From battling imposter syndrome to setting boundaries with clients, from networking strategies for introverts to aligning personal values with business goals—this conversation is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the relationship between mindset and entrepreneurship.

Do you ever suffer from Imposter syndrome? If so, how do you overcome that?

Nicole: “I definitely do! This has come with age (maybe wisdom haha!) but practicing mindfulness has helped me navigate imposter syndrome and being aware of what triggers it and ways to cope. For example, simply knowing I am triggered by comparison to others in my online community means I’ll mute certain accounts so I won’t see what they are doing (even though I love them and actually support them/love what they are doing). But I know I can control this trigger. I’ll also just try to focus on the value I bring, and practice gratitude for the clients that I am working on, rather than focussing on what I am potentially missing out on or who haven’t booked in. The Calm app works wonders for just grounding yourself daily and focussing on the present moment rather than past/future worries and that imposter syndrome feeling.”

Serena: “Yes, whenever I am in a design slump. To overcome it I read my feedback and take a break from the computer and get outside to ground myself.”

Do you lean more towards the introverted side, and if so -  how do you manage networking and drumming up business?

Abby: “Absolutely - I’m an extroverted introvert and actually hate meeting new people. Start small - go to networking events and say to yourself “If I just have to be brave and introduce myself to ONE person, surely I can do that” etc.”

Nicole: “Absolutely on the introverted side. And I take the introverted pathway of drumming up business but quietly, in the background. So subtly that most clients probably don’t know they are being reeled in haha. Posting on Pinterest, Instagram and having a website with portfolio work usually brings me all the work I need, and word of mouth from past clients. I do not network for clients and would not say it is useful for my business, nor would I recommend it as a ‘need’ for a business to have lots of clients coming in. A fun fact is when I’ve had quiet months, it’s usually because I had stopped posting a month or so prior because I was so deep in current client work, so something like my Pinterest account wasn’t actively showing to potential clients. So a big tip would be to market your work even when you are busy, so it always has eyes on from people who might want to work with you.”

Serena: “Definitely, I’ve always considered myself a listener rather than a talker. But I’ve challenged myself to go into events by myself and talk to people. BNI has been a huge personal development for me. Covid did wonders, using Zoom has been a game changer for me.”

How did you go about enforcing clear boundaries with your clients around the usual things clients will try on, such as ringing after hours, urgent jobs etc?

Abby: “Never compromise. Tell them at the start what your working terms are and it’s up to you to stick to them. SCHEDULE SEND YOUR EMAILS FOR THE NEXT MORNING IF YOU’RE WORKING LATE AT NIGHT.”

Nicole: “A strong CRM like Dubsado. Being introverted, I HATE emailing people with these boundaries. That’s why my CRM does it haha. I even have at the bottom ‘this is an automated message’ so it takes all personal emotions aside, it’s purely business. This is due by X date, these are the fees, these are the hours, and the client just has to accept them because that’s how the process works, nothing personal. I’ve found this to be a gamechanger for running a sustainable business, because it allows me to have boundaries without having to agonise over enforcing them. Everything is outlined clearly at every step of the process, automated and sent, even when I sleep.”

Serena: “I haven’t had to worry about that too much. My clients know I’m a mum of 2 and don’t have a partner living with me so they respect my time.”

How do you marry your values to the clients you take on?

Nicole: “I just try to be very clear on my website what my values are and if they vibe with this, they usually get in touch. In most cases, they hold the same values so it’s easy to align with them. If they are only wanting a logo, or purely something that ‘looks nice’ I will not take the job, because it doesn’t align with my values, so keeps it pretty simple.”

Serena: “I’ve been pretty lucky that my clients have similar values.”

What are your go-to industry related podcasts?

Nicole: “I am really strange but, I actually steer clear of industry related material especially if I am working, or trying to switch off. If I am listening to anything while I work, it’s either something on the Calm app directly designed for flow state, or the On Purpose Podcast by Jay Shetty, with a focus on listening to anything that would relate to mindfulness, gratitude, relationship building and dealing with anxiety/burn out. Industry-related podcasts are a little bit of a trigger for me for the comparison trap or imposter syndrome (oh, why aren’t I running a podcast, my business doesn’t sound as successful as this one, yada yada) so unless I am actively trying to learn a new skill, I’ll just keep my distance haha.”

Thanking the incredible Designers that answered these questions for you, our Creative Community.

Abby Marriott - Kōwhai Creative
Serena Mayen - Modern Design
Nicole Macdonald - January Made Design

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