I started Kocha Studio™ on the 1st of July 2017, where I don’t know much about business but try my best to make people happy to work with me. It has been an incredible three years in a roll now, and here is what I’ve learned so far.
1. Stay where it relevant
One of the most obvious things I’ve learned during these three years was there are quite no clear end goals for an innovation project (and its design).
Innovation is more or less design + improvisation. There is no completed research, comprehensive data, or even perfect design. An adequate decision in an inadequate amount of time is an essential skill. We need to learn, unlearn and relearn to stay in business.
Perhaps, it’s more about how quick we can move from an idea to something tangible and put it out there to the people-then further improvement based on what we have learned.
2. Friendshipsional (Friendship + Professional)
Proper distance makes good relationships. A clear role between client and designer will smooth a project forward. Overlapping is different from collaboration.
I love to work in an environment where people share knowledge and build on each other’s ideas but still respect each other’s personal space.
We need the right mix of Friendship and Professional relationships to make everyone stay happy. Happiness is usually the key to any successful project.
3. We need to talk about money
Cash flow will help the studio slow down on taking a new project and be more precise when choosing a new client.
Although talking about money with the client is complex, the other things will be much easier if we are straightforward with the money upfront.
Tips: Only use as many resources as necessary, and staying low-key will help the business stay comfortable.
4. Flexible pricing
Design is an iterative process that takes time to get right and frequently have more requirements during the project. A mix of fixed and variable rates will help everyone get the most out of the project.
For example, I quote my client by a fixed price with 30% of iteration. If the project requires more than 30% change, I will facilitate a daily rate to help them out.
I let my client control their budget by get them involve with the design and always be notified beforehand for any additional scopes and revisions that cost extra.
Most of the time, it’s not about how much will it cost. The client needs an assurance that the designer will stay on the project, even the scope has a significant change, which is why flexible pricing has become handy.
5. New design tools (personal interest)
The more I worked with my client, the more I realised how powerful Word and Typography could do in communication.
Word and Typography are timeless, honest and direct to the point. I could see myself investing more and more in these tools.
Although a picture is worth a thousand words—it still uses words to describe the concept.
6. Perhaps, I’ve learned how to learn.
Learn new skills while you are going to use them. I’ve found that learning something while you get struck is the most effective way to acquire new knowledge/skills.
I used to accumulate knowledge by studying it beforehand. But at the point when you need to use them, the version of your understanding may not be relevant due to the rapid context change.
PS. Learning and gaining experience is different. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go out there and experiencing the real world.
7. What’s next for Kocha Studio™?
Sometimes “I don’t know” is the best answer if it follows by “let’s find out.” During these three years, I experimented a lot with personal life and business.
For example, I thought it might be great to have an office or build a design team. I did—and it’s suitable for business, but it does not necessarily mean happiness. Working as an independent designer is much simpler for me, and the home studio is where I get the most done.
Yes, I’m still happy to run Kocha Studio™. But I’d like to experiment more on the other side of the design too, let’s find out.