10 Ways to Become an In-House Entrepreneur

Learn how to be an entrepreneur in the design world in the Creative Business program at HOW Design Live. Designed for agencies of all sizes that focus on creativity—or that could use a creative approach to solutions—this program will offer expert guidance on creating a business action plan, pricing your work, cultivating a strong client base, and more.

As an in-house designer, you probably don’t identify as an entrepreneur. After all, you don’t head up your own firm and probably don’t work for a start-up. But in-house designers are in a position to influence how their departments run and “own” the responsibility for the success of their divisions.

That’s why corporate creatives would be wise to tune into recent research from Gallup that explores the 10 talents that influence behaviors and best explain success in an entrepreneurial role.  Embracing these traits may lead to a juicier project or promotion—or give you the confidence to learn how to be an entrepreneur and strike out on your own someday. Here’s how you can use those same attributes within your own corporate role to expand your influence and increase your success.


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Business Focus

You make decisions based on observed or anticipated effect on profit.

No designer understands concepts like ROI, EBITDA and core competencies better than a corporate creative. While sometimes a bore, being able to laser focus on just one company gives you deeper understanding of your client’s mission, vision and corporate values. You should be able make a business case for every design decision, which is really what graphic design is all about.


You accurately know yourself and understand others.

Next to the CEO, perhaps no one knows the many facets of a company the way an in-house designer does. Remember this the next time you have an idea or an opinion to share.

Creative Thinker

You exhibit creativity in taking an existing idea or product and turning it into something better.

You’ve got this one in the bag, right? After all, it could practically be your job title. But even gifted creatives can fall into ruts, relying on the same tricks and techniques time after time. Be sure to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to be creative in new ways. Try out a new book, conference, podcast or brainstorming technique to shift your perspective.


You recognize that you cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control.

It can be hard to let go of your creative vision, but trying to control every detail will hold you back from achieving greatness. If you’re a one-man department, this may mean asking your boss if you can hire freelance help. Or it may be time to let that junior designer take the lead on a project you’ve overseen for years. If you can’t delegate, you’ll never have the time or energy to try new things or ready yourself for a leadership role.


You persevere through difficult, even seemingly insurmountable, obstacles.

In-house designers face their fair share of obstacles, from the challenge of working for only one client to being misunderstood by colleagues outside your department. Being entrepreneurial means finding new ways to face these challenges and having the perseverance to stick with your plan.


You are prepared to do whatever needs to be done to build a successful venture.

Many in-house designers wear the hat of art director, designer, production artist, illustrator or even copywriter at any given time. While you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin, this chameleon-like ability makes you a true entrepreneur.


You constantly search for information that is relevant to growing your business.

It can be easy to kick back in the comfort zone as an in-house designer. After all, you don’t have the pound the pavement to find new business. But entrepreneurial in-house designers not only look for opportunities to expand their design skills, but also seek out knowledge about their company. That may mean, inviting department managers out to lunch, keeping tabs on the competition or staying on top of media reports about your industry.


You are the best spokesperson for the business.

Your work gives a face and an identity to your company and its products. Remember, you’re not just designing a brochure; you’re selling an idea. Your role is active, not passive.


You have high social awareness and an ability to build relationships that are beneficial for the firm’s survival and growth.

You’re in the prime seat when it comes to making connections among departments within your company. You interact with everyone and are probably among the most observant members of your workforce. Use your position to facilitate collaboration among departments, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you see efforts being duplicated. And while it might be easy to hole up in the art department, be proactive about making connections. Great relationships yield great work.


You instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations.

Being able to experiment is crucial to innovation. And risk-taking plays an important part in creative growth and development. Learn when to take creative risks and when to play it safe.

corporate creativeThe Corporate Creative: Tips and Tactics for Thriving as an In-House Designer

The Corporate Creative provides incredibly effective strategies to help you really establish yourself (and your team) as a powerful and efficient force within your company. Finally there is a book that speaks to the all too neglected in-house designer. The broad range of skills possessed by an in-house creative team are addressed in countless tutorial books, but The Corporate Creative sets out to help you with the challenges that are unique to the corporate environment.

3 thoughts on “10 Ways to Become an In-House Entrepreneur

  1. Kristinahuges

    All these mention points are really helpful for the business starters. Keep in mind that starting personal business is not a big success, the business success start when people come to use our products and trust on services..