If you’ve been a freelance web designer / developer for a while or have been working for a company and think it’s time you moved out and started your own full-fledged business, we back your decision. You know how best you can use your skills, which projects you want to work on and how you can maximize your income. Assuming you’ve taken into consideration risks like unsteady income and difficult clients, here are 9 additional things you must know before you change your signature to CEO.
1) Design Thinking Should be the Core: You can have a fantastic UI expert and an even better UX expert but if your business lacks a design thinker, the two suffer a gap.
So what exactly is design thinking and why is it so important?
Design thinking is a practical, creative resolution of problems and solution creation to improve your users’ future experience of your product or in this case, website. Simply put, it’s solution based thinking.
Design thinking is essential to:
- keep innovating and therefore
- push boundaries as a web design/ development business
2) Understand your Client and your Clients’ Customers: It’s not enough to just receive a brief and execute. It’s important to understand your client’s requirements, his school of thought, his client’s nature of business, competition, brand values etc. These are critical to executing a project that is custom made for your client and his client. Your expertise coupled with your clients’ needs is a recipe for a fantastic outcome.
3) Hire a Design resource with a keen eye for UI: Good websites often judged by their interfaces. You need a good UI designer who can create a ‘wow’ interface through check points like:
- consistent theme
- uniform layout
- ease of use
- visual appeal
- workable pagination
A good UI Design can boost sales and reduce support costs. Investing in a UI Designer will be money well spent.
4) Not to forget a UX Developer: A UX developer will be able to create websites for your clients that are logical, have a great flow & are smooth. A UX Developer’s job is to make your website as intuitive and easy for your visitors as possible. A great UX is important for :
- increasing recurring visitors to your website
- greater market share
- possibly higher revenues due to retention
- positive word-of-mouth
5) Sales & Support are Necessary: Sales refers to everything from getting your lead to delivering the finished product. Sales is:
- relationship driven
- individual focused
- closes the deal
- brings home the money
If you don’t have this skill, you need to find a business partner or an employee who does.
The post-delivery period is what your support should handle. In all likelihood, your client will come back to you for support with the CMS, changes to the design, hosting queries and more. Good support creates strong relationships and trust between you and your client. Support can be integral to maintaining your current clients as well as getting in new business.
6) Marketing is Important for Your Brand – There is tremendous amount of competition and talent in the industry but you need to make sure you market your business right.
Your single aim through marketing is to build brand equity.
How can you start? Three words. Word-of-mouth. Your relationship with your existing clients is your first and most powerful tool of marketing. If they’re happy with you, they’re most definitely likely to recommend you. There are other ways you can build brand equity as well by:
- Putting our your portfolios online
- Using various social media platforms
- Putting out testimonials from your clients on your website
- Starting a blog to assert your expertise
- Involving yourself in offline activities such as conferences, events, workshops etc.
- Using paid advertising like pamphlets, SMS campaigns, standees at events, SEO, SEM spends etc.
7) Billing Cannot be Ignored: This can be a tricky, painstaking task but it’s integral for any business and you should know how to bill your clients. Some advisable ways to bill your clients can be by:
- Selecting an invoice software
- Setting standards & policies
- Making sure you are transparent about your charges
- Setting a deadline for the payment
Check out Invoicing process made easy for Web Designers for more help.
8) Be prepared to Multitask: If you’re just starting out with your business, you might not have the resources to hire staff for various roles like:
- web design & development
Be ready to multitask and fill in different roles – both you and your employees. If you think you’re not equipped enough to fill these roles, there’s tons on the Internet to help you out till you’re able to afford to hire specialists. You can start by:
- Picking a team of willing, capable workers
- Motivating your team to work towards a common goal
- Involving the team in major decisions be it with finances, client relations, business development etc.
- Setting an example to your team by wearing different hats yourself
9) All Projects are not Exciting: Be prepared to face this truth. Being an entrepreneur does mean that you can pick the projects that are fun and challenging but is the money from those projects alone enough to keep your business afloat? You need to weigh other metrics like:
- investment in the project
- number of new clients
- existing clients retainership
- revenue per client
- acquisition cost
While it’s great to pick projects that are new and challenging, it’s important to have a balance with run-of-the-mill projects to maintain steady cashflow. A mix of the two will help sustain your business and keep it interesting.
If you’re considering becoming an entrepreneur, kudos to you. It’s a brave decision yet challenging decision. We egg you on! We hope these 9 pointers have made you a little more equipped when you take the leap. We’d love to hear back from you on your business in the comments section below.