Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Danny Stillion, Founder and Principal of designbivouac, located in Redwood City, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Designbivouac is a design consultancy that complements design teams with digital design and innovation expertise. Whether shaping breakthrough consumer products or designing new transportation and mobility solutions, designbivouac helps clients realize their innovation and digital design aspirations.

Tell us about yourself

Designbivouac began as a personal design blog back in early 2001. Originally it was a way to "bivouac" or camp outside of a professional design context and log my design perspective and interests. After serving for 25 years at IDEO as an Interaction Designer, Design Director, and Partner, I established designbivouac in 2020 with the underlying goal of closely collaborating, or "bivouacking" in a sense, with clients to help them meet their design aspirations.

Work at designbivouac regularly involves shaping products that are easy and delightful to use or redesigning aspects of our mobility system to make them more accessible and sustainable. Adding a fresh perspective to help teams shape and achieve their design vision is one of the most rewarding aspects of design consulting.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Mobility clients regularly request designbivouac services to inform future products. I am pleased that the company is well-positioned to work with a wide range of companies on meaningful projects such as enhancing shared mobility experiences, laying the groundwork for future aerial mobility, or changing the way we move goods around the world.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

With all the day-to-day requirements that come with running a business, nurturing your network of colleagues can slip into the background. Put habits in place to prevent this. I have found my network of colleagues to be a constant source of inspiration and an invaluable resource for collaboration.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Focus on what you draw deep satisfaction from that aligns with your skills. The old adage "If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life." may be a stretch, but there is truth in it. Regardless of how much you love what you do, many days will certainly feel like hard work. However, loving your work and who you work with will sustain your efforts in the long run.
  2. Support teams. Strive to build empathy for others and to know what they need to thrive.
  3. Know when to lead from the front, side, or rear. And don't forget the fourth method of leading. As John Maeda points out, leading from the front while walking backward is sometimes helpful. This team-centric approach to leading allows you to focus on the group and see if they are following you. This way, you won't leave your team behind. Apparently, as John learned from Lakshmi Pratury, it is what Pentagon tour guides do. The good news is that most being led in this way warn the guide about bumping into things.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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