To be a successful owner in a design firm, you must recognize at a minimum, four points:
1. The informality you have enjoyed with your coworkers will radically change as an owner. By necessity your professional relationship with them will become more formal and business like.
2. Your management and leadership style influences the firm’s ability to attract and retain top talent. While there are examples of successful firms with autocratic (dictatorial) leadership, the trend is clearly toward a more participative management style among the most successful firms. Young professionals will only stay under the strong hand of a centralized, autocratic management style as long as it is convenient to them. As soon as they reach a certain professional and financial level, the most capable professionals will move to a more acceptable leadership environment.
3. You must become a team builder. The skills needed to build an effective team are substantially different from those required to become proficient professional designers. Some leaders have natural talent, but most have to work hard at it.
4. The key to achieving success in any business is directly related to bringing in new work—new clients. Whether or not you enjoy the marketing and sales aspects of business, you must develop your ability to manage clients, establishing and maintaining relationships with them built on trust and mutual respect. The one who “owns” the client has the clout, every time.