Graphic design is a fast-paced industry that can offer up exciting jobs and conceptual projects for business owners. The market is saturated but there are big rewards for firms that stand out.

Matt Davies of Attitude Design takes us through what it takes to set up a graphic design business including the skills you’ll need, initial start up costs and how to develop a commercial awareness that allows you to pitch for and win the most lucrative contracts.

Why do it?

Many people getting into the creative design business are excited by great design and have an urge to sell their enthusiasm and skills. They also choose this industry for other positive reasons – here are a few of the most common ones:

Shared responsibility

Most graphic designers get into business by starting out as ‘freelance’ designers working on their own to sell their skills. Successful freelancers often find they have so much work that they need a team around them to help. This is how many creative design agencies start. Having a team around you is very beneficial as it means you can share out responsibilities, reducing the pressure. And with a more diverse skill base, you’re able to focus on the area of the business that suits you most.


Increased control over the creative process is another popular reason for starting a design agency. This is very close to the heart of most creative people. You can make the key decisions which will make or break a project. You are the one who pulls the punches.

Significant market

All companies require some sort of graphic design and the market size is therefore considerable. Every business or person with a product or service is a potential customer. Whether it’s a startup company needing a logo design or a large corporate company looking for ongoing retainer work, your design skills can be utilised. Working in graphic design enables you to interact with companies in very diverse sectors - from healthcare to catering, retail to construction - making every day different. This keeps things very interesting on a day to day basis.

Financial rewards

The graphic design industry is potentially very lucrative, especially if your designs are recognised as providing maximum value to clients. Most projects require considerable time and effort but this is worth it when the final payment comes in.

Job satisfaction

Seeing the designs your team have produced on a website, in a magazine, on a billboard - to be viewed by thousands of people – can be very rewarding. And seeing that smile on the client’s face when they tell you their website enquiries have increased over 300 percent after you have implemented a new design strategy is fantastic.

Quick and easy to set up

Like most businesses selling services it is fairly cheap and easy to set up a design business. If you are starting on your own there are no large initial fees, and very few products to buy. For more information on this see the below section entitled “start up costs.”