Case study : graphic designer

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Paul - Peter & Paul Design, Prahran

 Paul, of duo Peter & Paul Design, runs a small design house out of a very cool studio in Prahran. Peter and Paul are a team of two that do web and multimedia design. Paul is about to turn 19 and Peter is 25.

'I do the programming and Peter does the graphic design,' explains Paul.

Paul didn't want to go to uni and he felt that starting his own business would be the easiest way to do it. He talked to Peter over Christmas, 2003 about doing some work together and a job came up.

"It all happened because I was a web designer and Peter was a graphic designer. A friend of his, a music producer in Germany needed a website and we worked on it together. When it was finished, we thought 'Why not try and get some more work together?'"

"And I got to learn some of Peter's design skills."

While he doesn't have any formal training, Paul was not deterred from starting his own business.

"I'm self taught. I would love to know more, though. I've always loved computers and I decided to teach myself programming. My programming abilities are stronger than Peter's and his design skills are stronger than mine, but I've learned some of his skills along the way."

Peter's background is in all kinds of design - automotive, graphic and industrial design. He's been freelancing as a designer for a few years now.

Business planning was not something either of them had given much thought to, until recently.

"We've had a good look at things properly and looked at where we want to be in three, six, and twelve months from now and what we want to achieve. We're setting down on paper our business aspirations."

Both of them have encountered obstacles along the way.

"I'd say a lack of business know-how. Peter and I did our first job together, then we did our own separate stuff for a while and we realised we work really well together. I've found though that it needs our full attention or it just doesn't happen."

Paul didn't really know where to look for advice and information. Instead, he relied on advice from people around us.

"Yeah, it's hard at times. But you're your own boss. It's really enjoyable. One of the most exhilarating things is having work you shoot for come off. Sometimes it takes six months from the point of contact to when you start the job. You need a lot of patience. That's the best part of it. Work doesn't come on a silver platter. When you do win it, it's really rewarding."

Paul describes the downside as having to be totally responsible for the business.

"You are the driver of how much work you obtain because you don't have it thrown at you. You can't sit back and wait for the phone to ring."

Peter's advice to others wanting to do their own business?

"Do some sort of short course in business development and get your head around how to operate the business."