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Maybe working full-time for an established firm has never figured into your

the idea of the future. Instead, after graduation you’ve chosen to freelance and/or

tempting as a means of beefing up your portfolio and making the right connections

until you’ve gathered enough experience and clients to open up your

own studio.

Another scenario is that you’ve already worked for a few years for a firm or

studio, and have built up the requisite confidence (and nest egg!) to launch your

own operation. In an ideal world, you already have some business courses or

seminars under your belt, so you’re not totally green when it comes to running

a business.

Regardless of when you made the decision to fly solo, you can bank on this

one truth: Establishing your own design business is very rarely something that

falls together overnight. The risk is high, the competition is incredible, and you

don’t want to fail. Therefore, you need to focus your energy on completing some

essential tasks that will pave your way to a successful start-up. Once again, we’ll

be concentrating on the writing skills you need to master.

Start-Up Checklist

Here’s our list of essential building blocks you need to have in place before

the successful launch of your business:

■ Designated space ■ Equipment (hardware and software) ■ Financial cushion (at least three months’ salary cushion; six is better) ■ Line of credit at the bank ■ Basic business fundamentals (telephone, fax, answering machine, bookkeeping

system, client tracking methods, database management, etc.)

■ Appropriate paperwork addressed, which varies depending on location

(Sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, incorporation? Employer

Identification Number, also called an EIN, used in lieu of your social

security number? Licensing? Permits? Zoning?)

■ Support services (accountant, lawyer, banker, insurance agent, cleaning

service, landscaper, etc.)

■ Vendors and suppliers lined up

■ Written business plan that outlines your strategies

■ Clarity about your identity or positioning

■ Identification of target market

■ Marketing and promotional materials