Why Most Graphic Designers Fail And What Successful Ones Do Differently


Last year I sat down with my graphic designer for a coffee catch up after the Christmas holidays, he was depressed. He had just had the worst Christmas ever.

Just before Christmas he had secured a large design job that would pay him handsomely. He had put aside his regular small customers so that he could pull off the biggest project that he has ever undertaken, things were looking great! He loved Christmas, spending all that time with his family and this would be his daughters third Christmas. He was going to spoil his family rotten with this project paying out in time for the festivities.

Unfortunately for him his client delayed the project for 6 months in the lead up to Christmas leaving him high and dry. To top it all off he had to face the most emotional decision of his life, the choice of keeping the roof over their heads or buying his daughter her Christmas presents. I will never forget his face that day when he said "I never wan't to be in that position EVER again."

"I never wan't to be in that position EVER again." If only he knew about the Boston Matrix before. While high value, one off projects give you a surge of cash, having a balance of different types of products looks out for your short-term and long-term cash needs.

I was puzzled to how things got so bad that he had to face this grim decision. Why did he chance everything on this one job?  He didn't seem to be the risky type.

He said to me that he found it really difficult during the summer and winter holidays as the work just dried up, that he thought if he completed this large project it would see him thru the cold winter months. It seemed like a gamble worth taking.

His projects comprised of one off, high value work. I said, haven't you seen the Boston Matrix?

How Does The Cashflow Of A Typical Graphic Designer Look Like?

A typical graphic designer has products or services that are high in cash terms but are one-offs. So the cashflow goes up when they sell a product or service like a branding package and then falls back to zero. Then they sell another product or service like a marketing pack - cashflow goes up and then back to zero.


During the summer and winter holidays work dries up because people take time off and the graphic designers cashflow stays at zero.

This is when most graphic designers go bust as they simply cannot survive here.

Successful Graphic Designers Understand The Boston Matrix, let me show you ...


Boston Matrix: Getting a mixture of Stars and Cash Cow products builds both short-term and long-term cashflow for your business.

Not all products and services are the same. Understanding the Boston Matrix will help you improve your cashflow and survive at all times.

There are 4 types of product:

Star: A Star product is what typical graphic design businesses sell all the time. They are high in value, the volume is usually low and the amount of work relative to other projects is low. Examples of a Star product are Logos, Brochure Design, Branding Packages, Marketing Packages, Leaflets etc. Stars generate instant large cash injections.

Cash Cow: A Cash Cow is a product or service that you charge a monthly fee for. These are products or services that you can sell all the time, they have a low sale value however the amount of work they require you to do is very low. Mobile phone contracts are a great Cash Cow example. How much work does your network provider actually do for your monthly fee?

Problem Child: A Problem Child product is one that is similar to a Star however the amount of work is high. So while they are profitable the client takes all of your time. These are usually corporate brochures where you have to have approval at many different stages which takes a lot of time, and lots of people want to give you input that usually contradicts each other!

Dog: As the saying goes "Never Flog A Dog!". A Dog product is one that has a low sale value, the amount of work they take is very high and when you sell these you always make a loss. Typical products or services that fall under this type is anything you do for friends and family, contra based work and those times when someone says "if you can do this for me for cheap I will bring you more work!". Stop selling Dogs right now! They are wasting your time and you are making a loss, so just stop!

The Most Stable Businesses Have A Mixture Of Stars And Cash Cows

A mobile phone provider has got the right balance. They have a Star product which is when they sell you the new iPhone, i.e. you pay a few hundred quid to get the handset. They then sell you a monthly contract for minutes, texts and data - the Cash Cow. They do very little to nothing for the monthly fee you pay them.

What Happens To Your Cashflow When You Add A Cash Cow Into Your Business?

Once you add a Cash Cow into your business your cashflow never returns to zero ever again!


So this time as you sell Stars and Cash Cows notice that your cashflow doesn't return to zero. As you build your Cash Cow revenue up you start each month with a higher starting revenue.

As you start each month, you start with a guaranteed revenue before you undertake any work whatsoever! The longer you have Cash Cow products in your business the greater the starting guaranteed revenue becomes. When you sell a Star product now it is simply added to your already existing revenue.

Building a business with Stars and Cash Cows smooths your cashflow out and makes sure you never return to zero ever again. Imagine what would life be like if you started each month with £1000 or £2000 worth of guaranteed Cash Cow revenue? What difference would that make to you and your family? Many graphic designers are doing just that, right now.


The graphic designers that add websites to their business earn money all year round. Websites ensures that there is a stable growing income that comes into your bank account regardless what time of year it is or how busy you are.

Adding websites into your business also creates repeat business opportunities because you are constantly in touch with your customer and you become their number one choice for all design, print and web.



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