Are you a Designpreneur?
Putting aside the question "Should designer code?", let's look into the term "designpreneur"
I will use the approach I try to follow when starting a new collaboration project - “Common vocabulary”. Before going into anything else, it’s better to make sure we use the same terminology, otherwise, there will be trouble. Do not assume others can read your thoughts. Trust me 😄 🤦♂️
I’ve been following the entrepreneurship community for a very long time, mostly digital entrepreneurs. With the Internet and tons of new cool tools, you can launch a new website in a few hours. The entry requirements to try launching an online business are at the lowest.
However, the majority of successful (online) entrepreneurs turn out to be software developers.
On the one hand, it’s not surprising. There are way more developers than designers or other professions. Also, it’s easier for developers to create and launch digital products by themselves. Technically, they don’t need anyone else, just their laptop and Internet access. Yes, there are other skills these entrepreneurs often lack, but it’s another story.
On the other, it feels unfair and non-inclusive. Yes, I know, life is not fair But when I read the next entrepreneur’s success story, almost always it’s a developer. I am sure their stories resonate with other developers, but I’ve found that a lot of insights are irrelevant to a non-developer.
Yes, there are success stories among designers, but the odds are quite different.
After analyzing my strengths and weaknesses in the skills department, I decided to use the word “designpreneur” - (designer + entrepreneur) to describe myself. I think it reflects my type pretty well - an entrepreneur who can’t code, but can design.
I have to admit, there was some satisfaction I felt when my code was working as intended, but I never truly loved it. So, I decided to focus on my strengths and not spend time learning how to code better. However, this is a whole other dilemma that I want to write about in another post.
Must-have Skills (luck excluded 😉)
Design, duh 😄. Ability to design websites, experiences, and apps. I could argue that for basic stuff like landing pages, plus all graphic design and illustrations, it is better to outsource to visual website builders, templates, etc.
Business. Basic understanding of main concepts of micro and macro economics: markets, offer and demand, competition, strategy, finances, marketing, etc.
Adaptability and Learning. Almost everything changes often and quickly. You need to be able to learn new tools, shifting trends, problem spaces, etc. Non-stop learning.
Prioritization. You will have to make a lot of trade-off decisions on a daily basis. Constant sacrifices in UX, effort, sleep, rest. For me, this is one of the most difficult parts.
Communication (aka Customer/user research). Interviewing, usability testing, and creating surveys should suffice. I adore real conversations in very small groups, ideally in-person. Some can argue you can get away without talking to people through messaging/chats, but I find real conversations much easier and more valuable. Writing communication has higher risk of misunderstandings.
Problem-solving. I’d add “creative…” but sometimes the solution could be a simple time-proven one, doesn’t have to be very innovative, so creativity is not a must-have. I could also argue that you don’t have to be able to generate such solution ideas on your own. Doing proper customer interviews could just lead you to the solution organically. I think following the process (e.g. Lean startup, etc.) would solve for this, with time and enough iterations.
Sales. Yes, I said it. Very often ability to sell can make or break your business. Selling, as a word and activity, has a negative vibe for many people. I am no different. As a potential customer, I’ve experienced enough bad sales people to develop an instinct to automatically dismiss the next sales attempt towards me. A good advice is to think of it as not sales, but helping people with their needs.
Research (aka Market research). Reading, searching, seeking out available information online and offline.
— I’ll try to keep this list up-to-date.
So… Are you a designpreneur?
Question: What skills are you good at and what do you think you need to work on more?
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Ciao! Till next time 🤙