It’s becoming more and more common to see designers putting on their entrepreneur hats and starting companies. Let’s take a look and examine what exactly makes a designer so suitable for entrepreneurship and why most designers don’t even realize that making the leap to entrepreneur may be as simple as widening your lens.

Clarity of Vision

Entrepreneurship is naturally a cloudy journey where the end product is very difficult to make out.  There are many competing priorities, very little resources, and a timeline that’s scrutinized by investors.  On top of that you have a team of engineers, managers, and designers who are eager to build that need a united vision to grab on to.  Luckily, designers are very good at taking competing constraints and using design methods to navigate this fuzziness to come up with a tangible solution to direct the team.   What’s even better is that they can clearly communicate this vision in a way that allows the team to immediately understand it.

Human Centered

Good designers have a keen sense of what’s really important to the user.  They’ve had to design products or experiences and remove themselves from their own opinions, take a step back, and examine the user’s perspective.  They know how to involve the user in thoroughly vetting their ideas and how to get candid feedback.   All of these human-centered techniques help the team realize what the really important questions are so that the team can prioritize their use of limited resources.

Ability to Explore Alternatives

One of the follies of many startups is falling in love with the first idea.  It may not be their fault; they saw an opportunity and just started building.  A bias towards action can help the team learn from taking action, however, it could help to treat the first stage of the start up as a design process.  The first stage of a design process starts with understanding what the right question is to ask in the first place.  Designers study and question the user to clarify and prioritize what their latent needs are.

Then they are capable of divergent thinking; coming up with multiple solutions to address the users needs.  The designer’s skills allow them to visualize many possible solutions at a very low cost; napkin sketches, simulations, models, and rough prototypes allow designers to fail quickly so that the right questions are addressed with the best solution available.

Don’t Wait for Education to Catch Up

The role of the designer is evolving, and very few schools are keeping up with this transformation.  You may have to widen your lens as a designer on your own and take the plunge by yourself!

Lance Cassidy

About Lance Cassidy

Founder of DXLab Design, a hardware incubator out of Raleigh, NC. My goal is to inspire creative confidence in the maker community and encourage ambitious entrepreneurs to utilize design thinking. I’m inspired by multi-talented people who seek to innovate at the intersection of disciplines.