The reality of owning a design business is that you’ll spend your time doing about 50% administration (emailing, calls, etc), 35% process-related/non-design tasks (putting together mood boards, etc), and only around 15% design.
Richard and myself both teach/have taught at the local university and it’s very nourishing. It helps us explain basic design concepts to clients because we’re constantly working with students who are new to the craft.
We’ve got a little pocket-sized notebook that breaks down why environmentally responsible paper is so important and how to spec an eco paper. The notebooks don’t make us any money—we just sell them on our website so we can give away free notebooks to students when we give lectures, workshops, etc.
We’re a two-person team at the moment, both 50/50 partners. We’ve experimented with adding a third person but it takes a special type of person to work with us so we’re back to two for now. Richard does copywriting, frontend web development, project management, and most of the business stuff (invoices, taxes, spreadsheets, etc). He also does a decent chunk of design. I (Jonny) handle most of the new business, a majority of the design execution, and I oversee all of the production for print projects. We share most other tasks like brainstorming/ideation, art direction, client communication, and so on. As business partners and best friends, it goes without saying that we love each other very much (❤ aww!).
Track your time. It’s one of those things that took us a few years to figure out and we wish someone would’ve told us sooner. It’s the only way to truly understand costs and be able to improve the business side of things. We use toggl but there are many other webapps that can do it.