Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in creative designs but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jodie Cooper, Founder of TheDesignCoop, located in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, UK.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I operate as a sole trader/freelancer and run TheDesignCoop, where I offer a range of design services, which cover anything from branding design, graphic assets and layout design, UX/UI, and motion graphic design. I'm an all-rounder, but I specialise in motion design and video editing to create ads for social media. My customers range from small business owners and entrepreneurs with direct-to-consumer products and services to marketing managers and agencies who are looking to outsource their design needs. Typically my customers are those who don't have an in-house design department within their business or those who don't have a motion designer and need some specialist help.
Tell us about yourself
I started out working in London for some incredible agencies, such as Landor and NU Creative, which was a wonderful start to my career in the design industry. But in 2016, I decided that city life wasn't for me anymore, and I moved out of London and back near to my hometown in Oxfordshire. I branched out on my own really as a way to reset before I looked for my next role, but I fell in love with running my own business and the freedom it gave me. I started my business working for agencies and connections I had made in London, but eventually grew and attracted new clients, becoming, in a way, a small one-woman-run design agency.
I love the flexibility I get as a business owner and being in charge of my own schedule, and I also love the variation of the projects that I get through. Every day brings a new challenge. I really got a chance to focus on specialist areas of design that interested me, such as After Effects motion design and social media advertising, and then onto UX/UI design using tools like Figma and Adobe XD. I've always had a curious mind and passion for learning, so running my own business gives me the freedom to continuously explore and keep that curiosity I had when I first started designing back in College.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Well, other than being asked to be interviewed here and having the chance to work with some wonderful brands, my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is keeping a revenue steady enough to get on the property ladder and support myself independently. This isn't something that I thought I'd be able to do for a long time, and definitely not during a pandemic!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner for me is learning to say no and remembering that I'm not an employee. This has taken me some years of practice, and it can be very difficult to get out of the mindset of being delegated to and saying yes to everything. Running a business comes with quite a lot of uncertainty, and it can be easy to agree to everything that comes your way when things can seem unpredictable, but that's not always good business sense. If a project isn't suitable for my skill set, for example, or if my availability doesn't match up with my client's deadlines, it's much better to say no or to try and compromise so that the quality of work and timeliness are prioritised.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Set expectations and then exceed them.
- If you're thinking of starting out and wondering how to make the leap, just plan to have a bit of money to fall back on or some support, start networking and just go for it!
- Remember, you're going to fail sometimes but don't let that deter you; it's all part of the process. Learn to fail upwards.
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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