Protect Your Design Business

Do you know how to protect your creative ideas and the income from them? Do you know how to protect yourself and those who work with you? What about legal responsibilities? Here are some ideas: use them to kick-start the personalized advice you get and the steps you take. Ensure sources of advice and information are properly qualified.

Protect reputation, premises, equipment and people

Precisely what insurance you should get depends on regulations in your country and what type of business you run. But here are several types of insurance commonly held by businesses: professional indemnity; employer’s; negligence; fire and theft; buildings; contents; and public liability.

Unbiased information and advice is provided by many organisations, including Chambers of Commerce, reputable business advice websites and professional associations* (see the end of the article for a short list of associations). It is often possible to get discounted insurance through professional associations.

Protect ideas

The most obvious example for a designer is copyright. To help prevent problems, discuss in advance what is your intellectual property (IP) and what is your client’s. Organisations including Chambers of Commerce and professional associations often offer workshops or fact-sheets on understanding, and protecting your IP. Specialist IP lawyers also provide advice.

Protect time and money

Assumptions and confusion can sour a promising relationship between a designer and client, and could involve issues like number of revisions included in a job price, amount of time in discussions with the client, acceptable payment timeframe – and many more. Agreeing things in writing before any work starts, perhaps in contract form can help.

Organisations including Chambers of Commerce, professional associations and lawyers usually offer information or advice on this. There are also websites with template contracts, these vary in quality and which country they apply to, but can be a useful starting point.

Protect yourself and other people

You need to understand relevant business law in your country and ensure you comply. Typical areas include premises, equipment, noise levels, chemicals and activities. People who work solo at home, are lone workers, which has its own risks. The government departments in your country that deal with Health and Safety, business, trade or industry often produce easy-to-understand information and advice.

Protect your home and other assets

In some countries the legal type of business formed, for example working solo as opposed to creating a company, affects the level of protection individuals have should a business be sued or fail financially. Organisations including government tax departments, Chambers of Commerce and professional associations often offer information or advice on this.

Protect your money and the tax-man’s

You must keep financial records of your business that are in-line with the regulations in your country. Obviously your government’s tax department can provide information & advice on this. Chambers of Commerce & professional organisations can also provide information. Don’t worry about this, it’s usually more simple than you might think!

The great news about keeping financial records, is that many expenses which businesses incur can be used to legally reduce tax payments. Tax departments offer information and advice on what will apply to different businesses. They often provide factsheets and sometimes workshops (which can be good places to meet other business owners and potential clients). Chambers of Commerce & professional organisations can also provide information.

Because business taxes are often paid some months after earning business income, many sources of advice recommended ensuring enough money is saved to pay business taxes, social/national insurances and any other taxes or levies that apply. Sources of advice often suggest saving 25% of your business income.

Protect yourself and the whole business

If you’re working for yourself, you must comply with legal business responsibilities in your area. These vary according to your country and type of business. It wouldn’t be sensible to think that ignorance of the law would protect anyone. Chambers of Commerce, local government, tax departments, government business departments, professional associations and lawyers can be good sources of information and advice.

* A small selection of professional associations for designers and other creative people

American Institute of Graphic Arts, NZ Institute of Professional Photographers, Chartered Society of Designers, Designers and Art Directors, Australian Graphic Design Association, Association of Photographers, Association of Web Design Professionals, etc.

Use a search engine to find an organisation in your area that fits your needs.

Catering for Business Meetings

Many organizations these days ask help from one another in implementing some of their projects. That’s why partner firms will meet with one another to talk about many choices and issues pertaining to their companies. Business meetings could take several hours or even a day or two before company officials decide on essential matters. On this note, it is crucial that you invest in catering that will please your clients. Good catering for business meetings can help build good relationships with your clients and suppliers.

Just like organizing any event, catering for meetings is rarely an easy task. A lot of things must be put into perspective. Such things that should be taken into consideration are the number of guests, their location, drinks and food to be offered, location of the venue, venue set-up and of course, the company’s budget. Smooth running meetings can take place when all things are evaluated. It is therefore important to follow these rules when catering for business meetings:

  1. Number of guests. When catering for business meetings it is extremely vital that you take note of the number of people that will be participating in the meeting. Determining whether a small-group or a large-group will come to the meeting can help you look for venues that can fit all these people and also help you plan the menu.
  2. Budget. Catering for business meetings may be quite pricey. That’s why it is crucial that you request for a budget that will be able to accommodate the needs of your expected number of guests. It is also essential that you spend this budget wisely on things that can make your business meeting a good one.
  3. Location and time. Knowing the location is crucial as some of your expected guests may not be able to come if you choose a location that is too far from their offices. For the venue of the meeting, this could range from a small conference room in your company office or a more spacious function room at some hotel. Therefore, the venue size will depend on your number of guests. Also, knowing the time of your business meeting will help you with the catering preparation.
  4. Food and drinks to be served. It is very important to have a well-planned menu when catering for business meetings, so knowing the number of guests to avoid shortage in food and drinks is critical. Also, there should be a variety of food and drinks so that your guests will have a lot of options.
  5. Setting up. Once you already know the number of your guests, the budget allocation, the location and time and the menu, setting up for your business meeting is the last step. This entails setting-up the venue with decorations, tables and chairs and other equipment necessary for the business meeting.

Catering for business meetings is also demanding much like preparing for an important event if you don’t know where to start. It gives you plenty of control in managing the timeline and the meeting’s environment. It is a way in building a good relationship with your clients and suppliers. Remember the key aspects that you have to put into consideration when catering for business meetings: guests, budget, location and time, menu, and setting up. With all these in mind, you will surely have a business meeting that can smoothly run.