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InsightDec 15, 2021

Members share experiences in the Firm Owners' Virtual Community

Laptop showing virtual meeting Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Members share experiences in RGD Virtual Community for Firm Owners

Ian Chalmers RGD, Design Director and Principal at Pivot Design Group, shares notes from the latest firm owners community gathering!


RGD Virtual Communities bring together Members working in similar areas and/or who face a particular set of challenges to share knowledge, discuss experiences, propose solutions and support each other. The RGD Firm Owners Community is comprised of Members who own a communication design studio or agency with employees. Ian Chalmers RGD and Alison Garnett RGD lead this Community.

December Meeting Notes 

We welcomed two new Members, David O’Connell RGD, Founder and Principal at Bang! Creative and Caitlin Wharton RGD, Founder and Creative Director at Studio Millie 

Working Remotely: 

Due to the events of the last year, we have all had to embrace working remotely and a half of our group has given up their offices. For those with offices, they go in sometimes and more often than not they are the only ones in the office. We discussed a move towards a hybrid form of creative studio where some work remotely while others are in-studio. Members shared that there are benefits of not being tied to one location or office and having the ability to shift beyond the talent pool of a single region. Since working remotely, some Members have had better creative sessions than in-person. When working anonymously, participants seem more confident o posting their wildest ideas! 

Business Models: 

Talking about business modelling or remodelling, we discussed the opportunity to build and evolve prospective professional relationships with like-minded creatives and agencies to explore the possibility of partnering with them. For the younger firm owners, the group shared ways to get cash out of their business, setting up holding companies to manage funds in the business, taxes and how they can position themselves to manage their finances better. It was suggested to pay attention to and keep a track of all the expenses, billable hours and costs. It may be that they’re not charging enough! Some of the older firm owners talked about turning the business more towards strategy and working on an exit plan to potentially sell the business. For the older firm owners, it’s about the next phase of life. Succession is an issue, finding the right people to take responsibility for the next phase — especially when the family is involved. The idea about organizing a virtual design firm owner's retreat on ‘Where is design going?” was also pondered upon. 

Staff Engagement/Holiday Ideas: 

To change up the work routine and avoid Video call fatigues, Members shared what they were doing to keep employees and clients engaged. The following ideas were presented:

  • Send care packages to new employees, new clients and share promo items with employees
  • Have decorated backdrops on calls
  • Hire a tarot card reader or a comedian on a call
  • Organize a scavenger hunt or virtual escape rooms
  • Host a games night
  • Order food for everyone to have during virtual meetings
  • Have 1-on-1 check-in with staff
  • Make and bake cookies

Mental Health: 

Wendy Gray RGD shared Canadian Mental Health Association's report on mental health for entrepreneurs.

Get Involved

Virtual Communities are open to Certified RGDs, Provisional RGDs and Affiliate Members who meet the criteria for the specific group. To express your interest in this Program, identify preferences and/or volunteer to be a Community Leader, fill out this form.

Questions? Email our Membership Coordinator Director, Zaria Pucknell at

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