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A designers guide to running a web design company

Designers Guide To Small Business

I thought I’d spend a small part of today trying to give a bit of advice to any web designer or developer that is thinking about starting to run a web design business for the first time. We’ve all heard the success stories of companies going from a small entrepreneurial business to a multi-million pound companies. Unfortunately, these are the rare cases, but does that mean you shouldn’t try and setup your own company?

Of course not! It just means that to be successful in small business, it’s going to require commitment and plenty of sleepless nights to get to where you want to be. Mark and I have been running Wubbleyou Web Design for 2 and half years now, and we’re still having those sleepless nights!

We’ve had the pleasure of working with and talking to many small to medium businesses over the last few years and it’s good to see that about 50% are still officially trading. The percentage of businesses that don’t survive their first year of trading is huge in comparison to the companies that actually carry on trading in year 2 and 3.

If you are considering setting up a small design agency or a web design company here are a few little tips that we’d give you:

  1. Be prepared that within your first few months of trading, it will probably be quite difficult to get clients. I know this sounds like it should be obvious, but the amount of companies that we’ve spoken to that have had the “get rich quick” mentality, outweighs the amount of small businesses that have actually succeeded by using a methodical building process.
  2. Be prepared to show clients a web design portfolio of any relevant work if you wish to get work for a proposed project. You can find examples of designer’s portfolios that are usually web-based, all over the internet but a good place to start to look for examples is CSSMania.com. This showcases the best web designs created for the internet.  We use this is as a good benchmark as to the web standards that should be provided when working for a client. If you haven’t actually created sites for clients as of yet, try and include some example work that you’ve created.
  3. Be honest about your skill set as the client will be able to tell if you had the required skills when the work is finished. As PHP developers, we’ve come across this various times where prospective clients have asked if we could develop one of their ideas in ASP or .NET. Although it’s important to take work when it comes along, it’ll save yourself and the client a lot of hassle if you don’t develop in a certain language.
  4. Attend as many networking events as possible. This is a must for small business. The design industry in general is a thriving market with new companies setting up every day that are all vying for the same business. By attending these events then you’re able to sell your skills and services and have the opportunity to get your name out in the market. Make sure to bring business cards to these sorts of events as they are usually checked by potential clients to find out more about you before they get in touch.
  5. You will end up working all times of the day. The nature of the World Wide Web is that it can be accessed 24/7. This means that if something happens to one of your sites, you need to be proactive in solving their problem. There are certain limitations but it’s something worth considering before you setup the company.

Well hopefully these pointers will help give any upcoming businesses a bit of advice on what to do when it comes to starting a small company. The important thing to remember is that although it requires hard work and effort to create a successful company, it’s worth it to see the rewards that you give clients by helping them with their online needs.

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