5 by 5: Five Steps to Success

In HOW’s November 2012 issue, we profile Minneapolis-based 5 by 5 Design. Here, partners Wendy Ruyle and Diana Lillicrap offer their 5 best pieces of advice after 5 years of design business success.

1. Give back. Giving back to your community is good for you and for the world. Believe in karma—what you put out in the world eventually comes back around. Plus, giving back makes you feel good, and you might learn something along the way.

2. Trust your gut. Follow your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is. If getting the job is hard, doing the job will be even harder. Be true to your core. Don’t try to do things that others do better. There’s no profit in that, and there’s no joy in it either. Do what you do best—it will get noticed and the right work will follow.

3. Choose wisely. Relationships matter. Work with the best. Life’s too short to have it any other way. Our best clients and most rewarding projects have been a result of good networking and smart choices. Find the smartest, most talented people for your team. It will make your job easier and more fun, and make you look great.

4. Keep learning. Change is good and evolution is even better. Nothing about design is static. Ideas, processes, tools, people, channels, client needs—they’re always changing. Success comes from being out in front of what’s next and welcoming the inevitable change of the world, or you’ll get left in the dust.

5. Take breaks. Sometimes that means a short break, like a walk, so ideas can gel in your mind. And sometimes that means a long break, like a vacation, so you feel refreshed and inspired by new experiences. Have fun and enjoy what you do. Because sometimes the best ideas form over a glass of wine and a good chat with a friend.

For more resources about good design business practices, visit My Design Shop.

Success by DesignFrom David Sherwin, the man that brought you the best selling Creative Workshop, here comes the business side of being creative! Success by Design is a reference for designers to remind themselves of best practices in the industry. Complex business advice and information is distilled into an easy-to-reference format that’s not meant to be read cover-to-cover, but to answer questions in the moment!

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