Considering Starting My Own Graphic Design Business...

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by $corp, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. $corp

    $corp Dirty Old Chinaman

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    It's a strong possibility! Seems that lately, I've been thinking a lot about it, and a lot of people I've talked to say I have enough talent to do it. Now all I need is the ballz.

    Going off on my own will be scary, after all, it's not like a job you can go to and slack off in, and still get paid. Being the master of my own destiny will require time, patience, and a relentlessness to succeed. And I've come to realize, it will most likely only end up being 30% actual graphic design, while the rest will be spent on accounting, keeping track of finances/expenses, going out and knocking on doors, and endless meetings with clients.

    This is where I'm a bit concerned. I feel that I can handle the graphic design part of it just fine, but it's the other stuff that I don't know too much about, and will have to learn on the fly.

    First question I have for people here, is I've come up with two names that I like for my new company. These are:

    1) Digital Dimensions

    2) Serephim Studios

    The first I've sort of had in mind for my company for years. I've already got the logo for it, so it would be easy to print it on business cards, etc.

    The second is a more recent name that I've allowed to churn in my brain for the past year or so. I've always been fascinated with angels, demons, and the supernatural side to those biblical stories I've read as a kid.

    I'm sort of leaning towards the first, but there is a problem with both. Quite a few companies have already taken the names. Some of them are software companies, some are photography companies, but as far as I know, none of them are in the same city that I am in. Type in something like "Acme" in Google, and a zillion hits come up. Is it kosher to name a company that's already been named, or am I asking to get my ass sued?

    Also, another problem with the Serephim Studios name - there is not actually a studio. I'm just a dude working out of my house. I guess for marketing purposes, it's alright, but just wanted to make sure.



    After I get my business cards and letterheads done, I'm going to go down to the government offices and get a business permit. Then learn how to do invoicing and accounting. Then make up a rate sheet for my services. Then go knocking on doors and asking them if they will pay me to do a website for them. Hopefully, a lot of them will say yes. And hopefully, I won't have to have sex with wrinkled old businesswomen in order for them to do that.

    There is much to learn for me. But with time, patience, and hard work, I hope to one day be able to work from home entirely. That would be cool, because I would be able to spend time with future kids and wife, etc. and she won't complain about me being at work all the time and only getting 2 weeks of vacation a year.
  2. Pylades

    Pylades Louder & Prouder

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    Check Canadian law for all the questions but I'll just give you the answers Swiss law provides (which probably aren't all that different anyway) - just look for something like "Corporation law".
    About the names:
    In Swiss law there's five rules:
    1) You mustn't say you're something you're not. That's to say, your name mustn't imply something that's false.
    2) Clarity. The name must make it clear that you're a company and in certain cases it must contain reference to what kind of company you are (LLC, Inc. etc.).
    3) Exclusivity. Depending on what kind of corporation you are there's different laws. Not-so-big corporation? Only in the place you register your company. Big corporation? Entire country. Also, it mustn't sound too similar. And if your name's a fantasy creation - more strict rules.
    4) Not simply descriptive names. The example I have here is "Managment Inc." - won't work.
    5) Don't insult anyone.

    Yeah, that's pretty much it.
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  3. Summerteeth

    Summerteeth Quinquennial Visitation

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    Good luck Scorpy! :bananana:

    Have you thought about who you are going to target for your services?

    Oh... and I prefer Digital Dimensions for the name out of those two. Dunno why!
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  4. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Well it's good that you've got the technical skills. I forget if you've been working in-house or for a design company. If the latter, before making the leap make sure all your networking is current. I don't mean poach customers from your boss--that would be unethical (and, I believe, illegal), but stay in touch, real friendly like. And while there is a fine line there--you can't call someone up say "I'm starting my own business and I'd like to work for you"--you CAN touch base with your contacts and mention that you are leaving to continue your career. Then if they ask where you're going you can tell them you are starting your own business. And if they ask for your card, well, it's only networking to stay in touch with people.

    Consider including your boss in your plans. I don't know if your boss is a tool or not, but this can be a win for them as well. They can't make you stay, but you can work with them to ensure they have someone else on before you leave. And they can send clients your way that are too small for them, or when they are too busy, or if they just think you'd be the best person to work a job. They can do this with you as a subcontractor or just direct the business your way. Plus, if you part with your boss on good terms, you can use him as a mentor when you have them bidness questions you are worried about.

    Last thing I'll mention is, have you considered going back to school while you're still collecting a paycheck? While the MBA hasn't paid off for me yet, it would certainly work well in your case, rounding out your skills and giving you more networking opportunities.

    Oh, one more thing--if you lived nearby and I saw you regularly, there's a couple books I would loan you: "Start, Run, & Profit From Your Own Home-Based Business", by Gregory and Patricia Kishel, and "Jumping the Job Track: Security, Satisfaction, and Success as an Independent Consultant" by Peter C. Brown. Both are fairly old and may be out of print, but it wouldn't hurt to read either of them--particularly Brown's book--if you find them on Amazon.
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  5. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Oh, and one other thing on the name: My first impulse is towards "Digital Dimensions" but there are a couple problems with it. 1) It is limiting while being ambiguous. Suppose you expand into an area of design that doesn't involve "digital". Suddenly your name is kind of pointless. And "Digital Dimensions" could just as easily be a software development company or something. 2) It isn't particularly distinctive. Pretty much any variant of "Digital Dimensions" that I chunked into the address bar of my browser came back with a website (there's even a commercial photography site at "digitaldimensions.ca").

    I was looking into trade names over Christmas, so I had the info handy. Page 528 of "The Entrepreneur's Guide to Business Law", by Bagley and Dauchy, talks about trade names:

    In very quick summary, you can have an "inherently distinctive mark"--something that no one else will have. This can be a "fanciful mark"--a made-up word like Kodak or Exxon, an "arbitrary mark" like Apple Computers (since apples have nothing to do with computing) or a "suggestive mark". The book suggests "Chicken of the Sea" or "Gleem" toothpast as suggestive marks.

    Now Digital Dimensions likely falls in the realm of "descriptive marks"--something like California Lumber or cc:Mail. That's a much harder name to trademark.

    Now Seraphim Studios, that's a fairly distinctive mark. I'd say that falls under the category of an "arbitrary mark". As I type this, no one has registered "seraphimstudios.com". And it makes for a potentially cool brand image. The seraphim were the biggest and the baddest of God's angels. And Isaiah's description of them gives the potential for a pretty cool logo:
    As far as the "studios" part, my dogeared copy of the Random House College Dictionary defines a studio, in part, as "the workroom or atelier of an artist". Using the plural form implies that, when you grow you will have more than one room. But if you wanted to get really technical, as long as you did some of your work in two different rooms--maybe you lick your envelopes on the kitchen counter or you sketch ideas in the livingroom while watching tv and BANG! you've got studios.
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  6. Talkahuano

    Talkahuano Second Flame Lieutenant

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    When my sister graduates college in forever from now, I'll remember to send her to Canada to work for you.

    She's into graphic design. Sims mostly right now. I know this is kinda off-topic but y'all can see her work here:

    http://thesims2.ea.com/mysimpage/uploads.php?user_id=602336
    She's entered "Lacrimosa" in a contest.

    Best of luck to ya with your business! The lady who took our senior pictures calls her home business "Nickerson Photography" and calls it a studio because she made a barn into two separate rooms and takes pictures there. And sometimes she'll use a room in her house for some shots. Really, a barn and a house don't sound like some terribly professional studio, but it's her studio(s) and she does good work! So I say you can say "Studios." :D
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  7. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    If Scorp wasn't a dirty Chinaman (and a dirty, dirty Canadian to boot) I'd PM him a logo I did that I'm planning to use for a business venture in the future. :soholy: :wub:
  8. Reno Floyd

    Reno Floyd shameless bounder

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    Striking out is always tough but worth it.

    My only problem with your business names is that they sound generic. They don't speak to your personality, originality, talent or fresh perspective.

    Personally I think you need something memorable. Whether it's zany is another matter.

    So something short like "Cherry" (yeah I know it's taken, I'm just using the example)

    Or something more on the edge like:

    "Dirty Chinaman"
    or
    "Wifebeater"
    or whatever

    You think I'm kidding? Tell me somebody who wouldn't remember you after you hand them a business card with that on?

    Point is, you want to stand out from the crowd, not be window dressing for someone else.
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  9. Quincunx

    Quincunx The Most Serene Staff Member Administrator

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    Off topic, but you should totally read Christopher Moore. :cool:

    And I prefer Seraphim Studios. I rather think it is personal and memorable.
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  10. Quincunx

    Quincunx The Most Serene Staff Member Administrator

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  11. $corp

    $corp Dirty Old Chinaman

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    I'm not really interested in naming my company Brokeback Multimedia, thanks.

    You should post your logo here. Then we can tear it a new...er, I mean, "critique" it. :)
  12. $corp

    $corp Dirty Old Chinaman

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    Ok, here is my plan:

    Years ago, the company I worked for published this lil book that was about the trendy stuff in our city. This included independant restaurants, hair saloons, clothing shops, and the type of shops you would see at the happening part of town. I was responsible for designing a lot of their ads for this lil booklet.

    Years later our boss gets preggo and ignores the company, letting it get run into the ground without leadership. So the company eventually went under, and the employees got transfered to one of the big clients of this marketing company. We were all very good workers, so they hired us on.

    The magazine has not been published in two years, but I plan to go back and visit some of those shops and ask them if they need a website done or any flyers, brochures, menus, or other graphics work.

    I want to focus on the website aspect of it, because graphics work is frankly, a pain in the ass. Not only are you designing the stuff for them, but then you have to handle the printing of it. So then I would have to take care of that for them. A website is something where I control the design and the final product. And it can keep revenue coming in if they keep updating their stuff. Chances are, they will only want to pay very little, so I'll just use templates for the most part, and I would think a fair price would be $500 for a site with 4 different pages (say an contact page, main page, menu, if they are a restaurant, and maybe a map page or a sale page.) I can then charge however much whenever they want me to update the site.

    The biggest problem I see are sales. Personally, I'm not a salesperson and have never been one. I am sure I will get plenty of rejections, but even if a few companies can give me work steadily, I may be able to make a career out of this.

    Second thing would be the business side of it. My dad owns his own company, so he's already given me a few pointers on what I need to do, and it looks like things will be relatively easy until the company makes above $30k/year. Then you have to worry about charging tax and a whole host of other things. Not to mention what I need to do if a customer does not pay! (Solution: Point my revolver at them Mal Reynolds style and say "I do the job, I get paid." )

    I got a lot to learn and only a little time to do it. But my goal is to become completely self employed eventually.
  13. Lethesoda

    Lethesoda Quixiotic

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    Excellent.

    Oh, and by the way, IOU one "Reynolds Style" rep