DAY THREE – What had to change

(reading time 4 minutes)

The biggest change from Tiny Design Studio to JemDigital was that it was no longer ‘I’, it’s now ‘we’.

While working on my own, I had been undervaluing my time to the point that the business was unsustainable and had absolutely no opportunity to grow. Until I realised why, I thought I just had to work ‘harder’.

In the business world, you’re bombarded with motivational spiels from entrepneurs preaching to you that you should working 18 hours a day, seven days a week and if not then you’re not serious enough. Oh and your day has to start at 5am, with a 60-minute yoga session to get you ‘aww zen’ before you browse through your inbox with your soy, organic, skinny, sugar-free syrup double-shot latte.


Obviously, you have to be prepared to put in a hard graft, which involves major sacrifices along the way and it’s worth it – I can promise you that, but you need to be brave enough to step back and identify where the problems with your existing model lie and react. While I was trying to determine why the business wasn’t where I thought it should have been at that stage, I discovered a few points when I looked at the following:

  1. Competition
    Don’t identify your competition by your industry, look at the businesses operating in your arena and match yourself to a comparable company. You don’t need to be the person charging the least for what you do, especially if you provide more value.
  1. Suppliers
    Are your suppliers helping or hindering your brand? They are part of the link in your chain, issues with reliability and more importantly quality starts and stops with you. I’m not motivated by price when it comes to suppliers, quality trumps quantity for me. I still have high quality suppliers I use for clients with smaller budgets, but I’ll never send anything to a printer if I have concerns about what standard will arrive, just to meet the needs of a low budget.
  2. Clients
    To be clear on my stance on this, there’s no such thing as a bad client. If expectations are managed appropriately then everyone will be happy throughout the project. With that said, there’s such a thing as the wrong client. The wrong client will have expectations that you can’t meet, you need to be honest with them and yourself or you’ll find that you over promise and under deliver.
  1. Pricing
    This was the downfall for me as TDS. Taking on board my comments above about my competition, I priced my work on businesses operating at rock bottom prices in the field; we didn’t offer the same service so trying to compete in that market was not the direction I ever wanted to go.

So, after this exercise I was clear that the two areas I had to focus on were clients and pricing. Regarding clients, I have the mind-set that their success is my success and I want to grow as they grow. Most of my clients from TDS have naturally migrated over to JemDigital, we lost a few along the way, which was to be expected.

In my business, to grow, and create a work environment where everyone feels valued, I had to manage expectations better and there’s a famous triangle us geeks in the world of design refer to, I never really understood until now.


Secondly, I’m not sorry to say, the prices for the services we deliver at JemDigital have increased significantly from my TDS days.

The reason for this is that I don’t want to be the bargain design studio, churning out stock logos with a quick colour change and font swap then four clicks and viola – your new logo but you might share it with wee Sally’s Nail Bar down the road, just in a different colour.

The business now has two ‘better than me at what I do’ people and they are a pair of crackers! Morgan has outstanding graphic design skills gained from her oh-so-fancy Glasgow School of Art degree coupled with extensive design agency experience. Watching her start a project and present a high-five worthy brand to be proud of for our clients, is exciting and makes my heart burst.

Then there’s Aileen, with her ability to take the impossible and make it possible she always surprises me. Sometimes I drop a bomb on her desk and boost before she realises what I’m up to – I’m pretty sure I can run faster than her, but she always pulls it out the bag!

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about the mysterious magical unicorn of the design world that is pricing, design can still be accessible for everyone and I certainly don’t want to price myself out of beautiful relationships with existing and future clients but with every problem, there’s always a solution.


Lots of love,