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    How to relocate your business overseas

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    By Diana Scully

    As I write you this post, I am sitting in a Los Angeles cafe enjoying a pretty good cup of coffee (my standards are high given I’m from Melbourne!) and using the free wifi available. This has been my “office” for most of this year, as I spend time in the USA.

    I am an interior decorator and manage my own business, both in person (when I’m in Melbourne) and via an on-line decorating service I offer through my website, Spaces by Diana. This year, my husband and I decided to spend some time in the US to advance and promote his start-up business, Sports Where I Am. Along with all the issues associated with moving overseas, this year has been a big learning curve (huge!) in understanding how to re-establish my business in another country. If this sounds like something you plan to embark on, and assuming that you have already sorted out all the other generic issues associated with relocating overseas (visa requirements, accommodation and healthcare), then let me share with you some helpful tips to get you on the right track!

    What sort of business do you operate?

    I think its safe to say that not every business is easily transferable to another country. Most notably, if you work for yourself and operate an on-line business, this sets a good foundation as it gives you control and flexibility in your work. In addition, these other characteristics may also assist in a smooth(ish) transition:

    + Your industry is established in your new destination.

    + You can still maintain relationships with existing clientele from home.

    + Your business already has a market presence or connections with people/companies in your new country.

    For me, interior design in the US has a great influence on the Australian market. I decided that if I could tap into this market by setting up trade accounts with furniture designers in the US, I was able to offer my Australian clientele, a greater selection of ideas and products to furnish their homes. In effect, I could become the conduit between the two markets and draw and source inspiration from the US to Australia.

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    What’s the purpose of your relocation?

    This is an important consideration as any effort to relocate your business to another country is BIG work. If you understand the purpose of your relocation, this will then assist you with setting the right goals and time frames for your business. You may find yourself having to start over again if you do not already have a presence in your new country.

    For me, our greatest motivation was to set up and grow my husband’s business in the US, rather than expand my interior decorating business. While I personally believed (and still do) that relocating to the US has only been beneficial for me, it has required me to reconsider my services in the market and assess the suitability of my existing and future clientele. This has consequently led me to build great relationships with US furniture designers, as well as expand my on-line services.

    What’s your new market and who are your competitors & clientele?

    Preparation and planning is vital before your departure. I recommend some initial ground work about your industry in your new country. As part of my research, I considered the following issues:

    + Is my industry established in your new country?

    + Are there existing businesses already in my space that offer a similar service? Can I offer something different?

    + How long will it take to grasp my new market? How will it impact my operating business?

    + How will I market myself? How will I network to get my name out there?

    After all this research, I knew it was important for me to develop relationships with furniture designers in the US, expand my on-line decorating services, and network with local designers/creatives by attending workshops in order to establish and grow my business overseas.

    Other considerations…

    Regardless of your industry and business style, you will also need to keep in mind these issues:

    + Are there any legal barriers you need to be aware of in relocating your business? Visa requirements? Do you need to register your business? Tax implications for both your new country and home country?

    + Where will you work from? Home, office, shared workspace, coffee shop?

    + Will any time difference affect your relationships and communications with clients or customers?

    + What items are fundamental to setting up your business in a new country? For example: laptop, internet, bank account etc?

    As a very minimum, it is certainly wise to get in contact with a good Accountant and Lawyer in the initial stages prior to your departure, (you may even need one in your new country too).

    Make friends.

    You are in a city that you don’t know, immersed in a culture you don’t understand, away from all your familiarities, including your local supermarket, doctors, hairdressers and good local coffee shop. You can’t underestimate the importance of connecting with people, forming friendships and networking. This is integral to your survival in a new location and good time should be invested in this aspect of relocating.

    When my husband and I arrived in LA, we didn’t know anyone. A friend of mine connected us with an Australian living in LA, so we arranged to meet him in our first week. Fortunately, he was a superstar and we have become great friends. He has introduced us to his family and circle of friends, both Australian and local. He’s also been a great source to ask questions about working overseas including, recommendations where to work, how to open a bank account, finding a good immigration lawyer, locating the equivalent Officeworks etc… Tap into your social networks and let your community of friends know where you are moving to. Someone should know someone they can recommend you to meet!

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    Here’s the basics to get you started.

    + Do the initial research - if you are still keen, go for it!

    + Find a shared workspace close to home and join a communal table. Here you’ll find like-minded people you can chat to about work, as well as the local area. You will also have good access to the internet, phones, printers and other office-related tools. If you are in the US, check out We Work and grab a monthly pass to gain access to their communal work spaces.

    + Alternatively, if you choose to work from home, set yourself up with the basics, including a desk, chair, lamp and storage. If you are in the US, check out Craigslist to pick up some good second hand finds in your local area.

    + Crunch the numbers. To establish your business in a new market may take some time… so if possible, set up a bank account with some savings (three months would be ideal). This will also allow you to attend networking events, seminars in your industry and join a couple of organisations related to what you do.

    + Set up a bank account (and credit card) in your new country so you can access local currency immediately and start earning a good credit history to your name.

    + Join a local gym or social club to meet people in your area, spread the word about who you are and what you do. As I said earlier, connection with people is vital to your success as an individual and also your business.

    While this may all sound a little daunting, I can honestly say, it has been worth every bit. Having the opportunity to relocate overseas with your business is one of life’s greatest opportunities. But keep in mind, it should not be romanticised too much as it can be a challenging transition. From experience, being passionate about what you do, doing the initial research and believing in your business, sets the foundations for success and will keep you on the right track.

    Where possible, be ready to adapt your business. As much as you try to plan your road ahead, inevitably things don’t always go as your envisaged. But hey, that’s ok. You are after all, not in Australia any longer – and that’s the point, right?

    Wishing you safe travels and all the success in work!

    Diana Scully is the founder of Spaces by Diana, a residential interior decorating business that offers personal and on-line services to inspire you to find real solutions to design a home that’s a reflection of you. Read her blog, Spaces + Places, and follow her on Instagram for genuine, cool interior inspiration for your home.

    {All images sourced via Death to the Stock Photo}


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, guest blog, how to, my advice | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Advertising tips for small creative businesses

    Today’s post is by guest blogger Jes Egan of Paper Chap. Welcome, Jes!

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    Creativity is in my blood. I come from a mad creative family and I had a pretty conservative schooling, which I tried to conform to, but in the end the creative flair won and I went and studied design at university. Being surrounded by creative people is inspiring and a guarantee you’ll get a taste for coffee or wine. Or both, as in my case. Upon graduation, I went travelling. However, in fighting some of the madness of my upbringing, a sensible and practical person developed alongside my creativity. So instead of sticking to being a designer, I went to what I aptly call the ‘dark side’ and became a ‘suit’ in the account management department of some of the biggest advertising agencies in the UK and Australia.

    Now days, my brain is back in creative mode and I run my own little business, Paper Chap. My creative outlet, illustrated and hand cut paper cuts that I can make with love. My practical side still exists however, and it is possible to be creative and business minded, it just doesn’t always come naturally. I share my practical side with design students, lecturing in ‘Design and Business’ at Billy Blue College of Design.

    My past life in big-brand advertising has taught me many things that can be applied to a creative business and successful brand.

    Find your point of difference.

    There is so much competition, there are other companies who do what you do, just under a different brand. But you will have a point of difference (POD), this might be service, design, price, it can be anything that is a benefit to the end user and is different to your competitors. Find out what yours is, if you can’t pin point what it is then neither will your customer. Once you know what your POD is you can use this to your advantage. We are so used to choice these days, we expect it and we make informed purchasing decisions daily. Stand out from your competitors, be bold and show how you differentiate yourself.

    Know your audience.

    It doesn’t matter what type of business that you are in, knowing your audience is paramount. You can waste time, effort and money targeting the wrong audience. Depending on what you do there are numerous different ways to find out who your audience are and if you are a small business one of the best ways to do this is look at your existing clients/customers. So many key learnings/insights can be taken from them.

    Be targeted.

    When you know who your audience is target them specifically, this will save you time, effort and money. For example if your audience frequent certain types of websites or publications, or favours Facebook over LinkedIn, put your time and efforts into those places. Be it paid advertising or just doing it on your own, you are eliminating wastage and sending your message to places where your audience is.

    Chose your social media sites carefully.

    You don’t have to use all the social media channels out there, chose what will reach your audience best and focus on those. Don’t over stretch yourself, if you are selling a creative service or product then visual channels might work best for you such as Instagram or Pinterest. If you sell a service then maybe LinkedIn, Twitter etc are better. It will be depend on where your audience is participating in social media as to where you need to be.

    Be on message.

    Often businesses try and cram every message they want to say into a very small space. This can dilute your message and make it really confusing for your audience to understand what you are trying to get across. Try and stay single minded. Even if it is a tweet or a Facebook post, if you have two things to say, do two messages. It might sounds simple and that is the point, it should be simple. It will take little time and effort and be more effective.

    It is better to pay more for fewer ads in the right places than less for multiple ads in the wrong places.

    Does paying for advertising work? Given my background, this is often a question I am asked. Without doubt, it you have the budget to pay for advertising then yes it can pay off. It can build your brand awareness and potentially convert into sales and hopefully you’ll get a decent return on your investment. But if you’re going to do it, do it properly. Make sure your creative is on message, targeted and made well. Also, make sure you are hitting your audience – don’t try hit the masses by buying cheap ad spaces across as many channels as you can. It goes back to knowing your audience. Don’t let your add get lost or ignored.

     

    Putting yourself and your creative business ‘out there’ can be easier said then done, I know. Particularly if your heart is entrenched in what you do, which is often the case in the creative world. But there are so many ways to put effectively advertise and market your business while staying true to your values and integrity, it’s just about making an educated decision on which avenue you want to explore and being creative with your budget.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ with a past life in advertising. These days Jes is an artist, lecturer, and small business owner who can be found cutting up a storm at paperchap.com. Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook

    {Image by Jes!}


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: advice for students, business tips, guest blog, my advice | Comments Off
    Posted on

    How to write a great design brief

    Our guest columnist Nat Carroll is back today with a follow-up to her popular article Why Write a Design Brief. Having been convinced that this is essential for the creative process to flourish between client and designer, she outlines what should be included and how best to get your point across (or draw it out from a client). Thanks, Nat!

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    You’ve been pondering over your business idea for weeks, months — perhaps even years. You know it inside out and back to front. It’s your baby, and it WILL be brilliant! But, here lies an obstacle: how do you best communicate to a graphic designer the details, tiny nuances and objectives you have, that require their creative input?

    Achieving design that truly represents – and hopefully accentuates – your project, begins with a healthy amount of dialogue between you and your designer. It’s time to gather up all of your thinking – the what, why, how and what if’s – and arrange them into some sort of sensible explanation. We designers make use of a helpful series of questions – commonly known as the design brief – to assist you in identifying the information most relevant. It should be said that some design briefs though, are more superior to others. Being asked the right set of questions by a designer and understanding why they’ve been asked in the first place, lays the foundations for a better project outcome.

    Why write one in the first place, you may ask? Why not just have a brief phone discussion and get the ball rolling? Writing a design brief, whether you write it yourself, or have your designer write it for you, has numerous benefits. I’ve explained some of those benefits in my previous blog post.

    So, what constitutes the contents of a well-written brief?
    When working with clients in my own practice, there are the things that I really like to know about before moving towards the research and concepts phase, and I’d like to share them with you here.

    01. Who are you, really?

    Tell your designer all about yourself. And I do mean ALL. Your designer is now your new best friend. It’s crucial to work with a designer that you know in your heart of hearts you can trust. The more openly you can speak with them, the more they will understand your expectations and motivations. This leads to design that addresses your bigger goals, rather than narrowly focusing in on the smaller, mandatory details only. A well-written design brief should cover expansive knowledge of your brand. Often I find the simple mistake here can be to resist revealing all – this really shouldn’t be a time for a modest elevator pitch.

    Give a background on the history and where you’re at, present day. What do you create, provide, represent? What do you see it growing into? What are the big goals, issues to achieving these, and where does it’s strengths and weaknesses lie? What are it’s values, tone of voice, attributes? If it were a person, who would it be? Who are it’s competitors? What makes your brand unique? What problems does it solve?

    Answers to these questions add up to giving your designer a good overall sense of the big picture – often forgotten in the determination for the project’s details. Your designer is now better equipped to be able to advise you and steer you in a direction that is more tailored to fit you!

    02. Who is your audience?

    It’s unfortunate that you cannot be everything to everyone in this world. There’s no point in trying. But, there is an upside to this! You can be meaningful to a select group, one that will stay loyal to you, if you are loyal to them. Narrowing your focus and understanding as much as you can about your selective audience and catering to them specifically, will pay off in dividends. Tuning into your audience and understanding what motivates them, pleases them, frustrates them, helps immensely in formulating an informed visual direction for your designer. Speaking succinctly to your audience, in THEIR language – be that visual and verbal – is the goal here.

    What do you know about your audience, or the audience you would like to attract? Describe a typical member of your tribe: Are they predominately male? Female? Does your brand have more than one audience? Where do they live, work and play? How much do they earn? What do they spend their money on? What are the motivations behind their purchases or use of a service? Do you have any data you can share with your designer? Do you have past surveys, focus groups, Google Analytics or data from your Facebook Fan Page? And what about feedback?

    Understanding your audience will allow a designer an insightful view into communicating with them in a language that is appropriate. Creating a story that speaks to your audience in their visual language will create a sense of belonging, which in turn builds brand loyalty.

    03. How and why did your project arise?

    It may be that your brand has lost it’s way a little, a whole lot, or that you are simply in the start-up stage. It may be that you’ve discovered a gap in the market for a new product. Maybe you’ve just about finished your artistic endeavors, but you need to visually package everything together. Giving your designer an insight into the way your project came to fruition, helps them to understand the motivations and objectives behind your project. This section of a design brief really helps to define the design ‘problem’ – big, small or somewhere in between – highlighting the issues your designer needs to fully address and resolve.

    Tell your designer about your ‘problem’. Give them a summary of your project and the main reasons you are commissioning them for their creative input. How did this all arise? What are the goals you plan to achieve by undertaking the project? Is it to create further recognition? Develop your audience? An investment or financial gain? What specific design deliverables do you believe addresses your ‘problem’? And how will you measure your success?

    These factors will drive a designer to find and create an effective aesthetic and strategy that is in tune with addressing your goals.

    04. What is the key message you are giving to your audience?

    Often in communication, we tend to muddy the waters by saying too much. It is important now more than ever to simplify and pinpoint. You are competing in a sea of information, a decreasing of attention spans and the increased perceptions in lack of one’s time. You have about five seconds, more or less, to make an impression – so – make it count. What is the single, key message you wish to impress on your audience? How would you like them to respond, feel, react and/or act?

    Your designer will now be sure to focus in on illustrating this message succinctly and simply.

    05. OK! Now, for the details.

    This may come across as rather obvious! However, ensure you tell your designer what you require from them. Provide as much detail as you can. The outcome of a project is affected by it’s constraints, so it’s important to be upfront about these before a project moves to the concept stage. A thoughtful designer will be able to forewarn you of issues that may arise because of said constraints and steer you towards a direction that bests reaches a compromise.

    Give them an idea of your deadline, and any outside factors that may affect the date. How many people will be involved in the signing off process? Are there mandatory, non-negotiable factors that must be adhered to? What is your printing and/or development arrangement? Is there any text in the works that needs to be finalised and supplied? Will the scope of the project likely remain as it is?

    Keep your designer abreast of these details, and any amendments as soon as they arise, and you’ll find you’ve created a more mutually collaborative relationship.

    …..

    Gathering and sharing all the information – research, data, plans, goals, thoughts, samples, inspiration – you have at your disposal, enlightens your designer with much more knowledge to operate from. If you let them into your inner circle, by placing emphasis on partnership, rather than just relying on their technical know-how, you’ll find it will allow a designer to respond by creating a meaningful, engaging outcome. One that is much more in tune with your goals and your audience’s desires. This is the unequivocal benefit of mastering an excellently written design brief!

    If you’re wondering about the specific questions of a design brief, try searching for samples online – there are plenty out there to pick and choose from. In my own design practice, I’ve formulated a series of questions from over ten years of reading and putting them together – feel free to utilise this one if you see fit!

    Nat Carroll is NSW-based creative director, designer & illustrator with an artisan style and strategic approach, working under the moniker, the Seamstress. She carefully crafts visual communication — brands, design & illustration — for the creative, cultural, business & non profit fields.


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, guest blog, resource | Comments Off
    Posted on

    5 tips for landing your dream creative job

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    This Saturday CWC is heading to Sydney for our next event and the ladies at Shillington College have generously donated their space to us for the talk.

    It’s also getting to the time of year when students begin preparing their portfolios and job applications for work after their courses end. As someone who has been there I can attest to the fact that it is a daunting prospect, and any advice in that area is always appreciated!

    So I asked Thea Powell and Tanya Ruxton at Shillington what they suggest students (and indeed anyone looking for a new position or career change) do to increase their chances of landing that dream role. ”Getting that dream job can be hard.” says Thea, “and to be honest, there’s not one single thing that alone will ensure you get that job you’ve always wanted. But we do have a few tips for design graduates that’ll help get a foot in the door.”

    Here’s what Thea and Tanya recommend:

    1. Read the job description. Carefully.
    Don’t presume you know what your potential employer wants. What they really want to see is that you can follow direction. What file type are they after? How many samples of your work do they want to see? They might specify you put “Happy Green Tree-Frog” as the email subject. Who knows. Check and double check what’s required.

    2. Personalise your application.
    Your grandma might have told you a fair few times how important it is to make a good first impression. And your grandma would be right. Your application is the first thing an employer sees, and it should make an impact. Don’t hold back – remember, studios want to see your personality.

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    3. Sweat the small stuff.
    A spelling or grammar error can make or break an application. Sure, you’re not being hired to be a copywriter. But you are being hired as a designer who has excellent attention to detail.

    4. Know your portfolio inside out.
    You’ve won that prized first interview. Congratulations! Now to talk through your portfolio. Employers love seeing what you can do, but what they really want to hear is your reasoning behind each project. If it would make you feel more prepared, write down key points about each piece, and read over them the night before your interview.

    5. Be passionate.
    Show them who you are. Let’s face it – you’ll spend a lot of time with your co-workers. They’ll be looking for someone who will work well in their studio. Be friendly, be passionate – and at the risk of sounding like Oprah, be you.

    Tanya adds, “Overall, the most important thing is to never, ever give up. If you really want to work with a certain studio, keep trying. Determination pays off.”

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    Great advice, thanks ladies!

    If you’d like to chat to Tanya and Thea a bit more about folio preparation, they will be at our talk on Saturday. Or you can find out more about Shillington at their website.

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: advice for students, feature article, guest blog, interview, jobseeking, sydney event | Comments Off