Your ideas are golden – DON’T GIVE TOO MUCH AWAY!!


In our jobs, our ideas are what bring us business, and how we use those ideas is what helps us and our clients grow! At the start, everything is very conceptual, all these ideas and brainstorming which then slowly turn into visuals - a visual representation of these ideas and how they could look & work for your brand.
In the past (almost) 3 years of owning and running my own company, I have learnt many many lessons. Some of which have been pretty hard pills to swallow, and if only I could say, once bitten, twice shy… 

I know that every day you continue to learn in this ever changing world of business and in each hard lesson, sort of comes a positive learning curve, and yes – I have learnt from my little lessons but if there’s anything I can try do – it’s to help them from happening to others!

I know this can kind of be adapted to any industry, but this is especially essential for all those working within the creative industry. 

In our jobs, our ideas are what bring us business, and how we use those ideas is what helps us and our clients grow!
At the start, everything is very conceptual, all these ideas and brainstorming which then slowly turn into visual representations of these ideas and how they could look & work for your brand.

Now when it comes to selling yourself and your services, there’s a very very fine line.

It’s a tricky situation because you want to land the job, so you want to tell them all the fixes you can make, where things might be wrong, and to a certain extent, show some new design proposals of what their branding and work could potentially look like.

This is where you need to be so so careful! DON’T GIVE TOO MUCH AWAY!!

A couple times now I’ve learnt a lot about business – some incredible experiences and obviously some not so great.
There are people out there that will try squeeze as much out of you as possible, take that info and RUN! And you know what the sad thing is? Sometimes it’s even by people you think you would know and trust.

Anyway – so my three major take aways that I can share out of my experiences are this:

#1. Always take a deposit!

This little lesson definitely changed things for me and how I run my business. 

So just a bit of background – I did a job which a client requested, and essentially I finished it because they never got back to me with any changes etc. So after weeks/months of not receiving these changes, I billed them for the hours of work done to date. Not even the full quoted price. Then suddenly, the world of excuses came and no payment has ever been received. 

Not only is that sort of degrading because these people clearly have no regard for you and your small business you are trying to run, but it makes it a million times worse because, in my case,  I KNEW THEM and supposedly trusted them (take note of past tense usage).

The lesson learnt from this… always take a deposit!! No matter who the person is, or how much you trust them. 

I’ll be honest, I hated the start of doing this. I always felt as if I was coming across as a little rude, but again, bottom line is you need to cover your own bases, so that if something does go wrong, you don’t get left in the situations of ‘if only’.

#2. Censor how much information you actually give away.

There are people out there, as sad as it is, that will try milk you for as much as they can. 

It’s happened to me twice now, one of which was on a very extreme and noticeable level. 

As I’ve said, and this is very prominent in the design industry, our ideas are our business. And it’s quite difficult to actually try sell yourself without giving away some of your ideas. With this, the problem is, words can’t be retracted. Once you’ve given direction, concepts, strategic ways forward, it can’t be unheard or ‘patented’ to you.

So essentially, there is nothing stopping the person from taking those insights and using them for themselves.
It’s a very fine line that’s often quite tricky to read.

For example, I once had a meeting regarding a potential social media management job. The meeting was mainly orientated around social media discussion but I was then asked, ‘just out of interest’, what my thoughts on their website were!? I was really enjoying the meeting and alongside being put on the spot and spur of the moment, I gave a lot of insights and opinions about where and how things can be improved on their site.

Now because it was a job regarding social media, I though that if I can give good web feedback here, maybe I can get the social media contract. They really were so grateful and the meeting ended off on a high, positive note, with the direction of ‘I’ll get back to you’. 

So when I did eventually hear back, it wasn’t quite in the way I thought I would. I got an email, asking me to please just have another look at their site and see what I think… A site which suddenly had all these great changes and improvements!? Hmmm… I see you. 👀

I could just smell the audacity but was somewhat impressed with the sneakiness of this whole approach. Like I seriously did not see that coming.. at all! 

This is when I got given the very valuable advice of: leave them wanting more.

So I just replied saying something like ‘Wow. That looks so much better, well done! There are a few small suggestions I would make however, should you decide to work with me’. And sort of just left it there.

To be honest, I wasn’t actually too angry about this, but more just like ‘Oh my gosh! How smart was that person!? So sneaky.’

Again – valued this experience, learnt from it and had my eyes open to ‘try’ not let it happen again. Emphasis on the TRY.

This is where this next little tip comes in – and the actual ‘inspiration’ for this blog!

#3. Be careful with the visuals you share!!

A suggested, the start of this whole thing relates to the aforementioned situation of not giving too much away. 

You thought I would have learnt my lesson right!? Wrong!

Yes, I know what happened before and had that in my mind, but went into this thinking that this time will be different. After all, it is PEOPLE I KNOW VERY WELL… well at least I thought I did.

Anyways, similar story to point 2, except this time, I made the huge mistake of writing it all down. Putting it all in a formal business proposal, including a designed visual comparison of their old posts vs what their new posts and general look could be. Silly, silly girl!

If only I had picked it up from the start that they would have their cake and eat it!!
Or in this case… their pizza!? 🍕

Again it’s a hard situation to be in because you want to try sell yourself, but the real error came in when I sent a digital copy. 

Now this means that what I said in our follow up meeting is not only in their heads from a verbal meeting, but they have it all nicely put together in a document, pictures and all. They can now either take all these insights and run it themselves, or in this case, take it to someone else who will do it for them.

I was absolutely mortified when I saw this blatant act happen. Pretty much speechless for about a week.

I hated the feeling it gave me and this is why I feel like I just wanted to share this, so that I can try prevent it from happening to others.

Like most people, I take pride in my work. I put a lot of thought and effort into everything I do for my clients and to see it being ‘stolen’ is gut wrenching.

Small business owners make a living for themselves off of hard work, knowledge and experience. Things we’ve been working hard on and cultivating for many years, so to see that being taken advantage of, to me, is stealing.

Stealing, rude, selfish, total lack of morals and pretty much 0 sense of business etiquette and ethics.

Anyways, so what is my advice from this little escapade??

Limit yourself in the information you share.
When it comes to design samples, rather print it and show it to the potential client in person and then take it back with you when you leave. 

Yes I know it’s very tricky, especially when you can’t exactly just meet up with a client easily in which case it does need to be done digitally, but just try keep this in mind going forward. Try think of ways in which you can protect your work.

There is always going to be a risk, but the best thing you can do is to at least be aware of the potential ‘side effects’, try find ways to work around them and then at least if something does happen again, you can’t really be as shocked because you were aware that it was a possibility.

Sometimes you going to sound mean, unnecessary and maybe O.T.T but at the end of the day, you got to protect your bacon. And I guess if someone is going to question that and the way you go about running your business – maybe they not the right business for you.

Creatives protecting creatives is very important to me, so this is just my 5 cents worth.

I know that starting up, I would have definitely appreciated hearing some of these tips, even though some of the hardest, most valuable lessons in life come from getting yourself burnt. 🔥

P.s. If you have any valuable lessons to share… please do! 👇