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Why hiring an in-house designer rarely work for SMBs

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Running your own design show can be fun…at first!

My mom owns a food business, and she never hired an in-house designer, even though she’s been running it for 7 years.

I asked her why, and she said:

– We have a food business. Why the heck would I hire an in-house designer? Besides, your sister, who’s a design major, can do anything I need.

But the thing is, my sister is always busy managing the stores whenever my mom is away, so she rarely gets to do any design work.

Guess who they come to when they have rare but urgent design needs? Me.

Well, not me personally, but my Deer Designer subscription. Since it lets me request designs for other brands, it’s perfect for our small catering business. 

Can you imagine how expensive it would be if my mom and sister had their own in-house designer?

There are actually a bunch of reasons why hiring an in-house designer for small and medium businesses might not be a good investment. Here are ten of them:

  1. Cost: It can be really expensive for businesses with limited budgets to hire a full-time designer, with salary, benefits, training and overhead costs adding up quickly.
  2. Limited expertise: An in-house designer may not have the same level of experience and expertise as an agency or freelance designer who has worked with a variety of clients and industries.
  3. Lack of flexibility: In-house designers may be limited by the resources and tools available to them, and they may not be able to work on multiple projects simultaneously, which can cause delays and missed deadlines.
  4. Limited perspective: They may be too close to the company to see it from an outside perspective, which can result in a lack of fresh ideas and an inability to think outside the box.
  5. Limited network: An in-house designer may not have a large network of contacts and may not be able to tap into the latest design trends.

    Plus, if they’re always designing, they may not have the time to refresh and stay on top of new things.

  6. Risk of burnout: Because they’re working alone, they may be overworked and not have the support they need to manage their workload effectively.

    This can result to burnout and high turnover, which can be really costly for small and medium businesses.

  7. Limited capacity: An in-house designer may not be able to handle a sudden increase in workload or large projects, which can result in delays, unhappy clients and missed opportunities.
  8. Limited creativity: They may be limited by the company’s brand guidelines and not be able to explore new design concepts and ideas.
  9. Lack of accountability: In-house designers may not be held accountable for their work in the same way that an agency or freelance designer would be.

    This can lead to a lack of quality control and subpar design work, especially if there’s no one available to check their work.

  10. Limited exposure: An in-house designer may not have the same level of exposure to industry events and opportunities as an agency or freelance designer, which can limit their professional growth and development.
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In-house designers who do all the work can’t help but be burned out.

Digital design is never a one-man job

I mean, sure, it’s easy to assume that one person can handle everything from coming up with a concept to executing it flawlessly. Well, the truth is, digital design is actually a team effort that involves different professionals with unique skills.

There’s the role of the creative director, who is in charge of the entire project from start to finish. They set the vision and manage the team members.

Then we have the designers. Depending on the project, there could be multiple designers working on different aspects of the design. 

For example, a graphic designer could work on the layout while a UX designer focuses on the user experience.

And let’s not forget about the developers! They’re the ones who code and program the design to bring it to life. Without them, the design would just be a static image.

There are also other professionals involved, like copywriters, project managers, and marketing specialists. They all play important roles in making sure the final product is high quality and meets the client’s needs.

So yeah, digital design isn’t just one person’s job. It takes a whole team to create something that looks good, works well, and is easy to use. By working together and communicating, we can make sure the project is a success.

How will you know if you’re ready to hire in-house?

You are ready to hire in-house if these two things happen to you:

  1. You have a steady stream of recurring income from clients
  2. You’ve become used to the Deer Designer process of delegation and giving feedback.

Your design subscription with us sharpens your communication skills. Now that you’ve practiced and mastered it for months (or years), you’re ready to manage an in-house designer. 

And when your business gets bigger, you can let your designer manage their own Deer Designer team.