Industrial design is the practice of creating solutions by studying people and businesses. Originally centered on development of goods, industrial design uses methods rooted in human behavioral study, human factors, and strategic problem solving. As our economy and professional practice shift away from manufacturing towards a service-dominant landscape, industrial design must align its profession to formally include service design. The small service business setting is a microcosm in which the value of design and branding in business is magnified. This research reinforces design's ties with services marketing and business and is dedicated to finding solutions for the backbone of our economy. Micro-businesses with fewer than 20 employees often lack the sophisticated management, marketing, and strategies that bring about success. Despite the fact that 70% to 80% of small and micro businesses are service based, little research is dedicated to unique strategies for these small service firms. Research has shown that using strategic business design increases small business success. Given high small business failure rates, it behooves entrepreneurs to use intuitive planning tools that are appropriate for the dynamic startup years. When put within reach and context of small business owners, the tools used in design draw a clear map of insights into the "design" of small businesses. Through a literature review, interviews, and a new workshop method, the needs of small business owners and the challenges they face are used to design and implement an accessible, actionable strategic toolkit for small service businesses. This simple, interdisciplinary toolkit was designed with the goal of increasing the efficacy and likelihood of ongoing strategic business planning through context-specific, instrumental activities. The tools are shown to help a business owner form pragmatic, iterative problem-solving approaches that allow the business owner to plan in the face of uncertainty and find insights into her own business, brand, and services.
- Designing small business: a user-centered study of needs, resources, and tools
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by Lynelle Marie Grimes