Running your own web design business is exciting – if not a little scary. As a key decision maker, you will need to pick and choose your path. It’s just an exciting thing to do on your own.
But it’s also hard not to deny. The decisions you make along the way can sometimes have a lasting impact, sometimes against your better judgment. For example, saying “yes” to a client may mean that you are not happy about being stuck with them for years.
There is a lot at stake. Things can get too complicated before you know it. Therefore, your excitement turns into fear.
If your business is a tangled mess – or you’re worried it could be a business – don’t worry. Today we will share some tips that will help you simplify your work and bring peace of mind.
Determine the Problem Areas
There are many aspects to running a business, each with its own unique set of challenges. Problems can come from any of them.
That’s why it’s important to look hard at what you’re doing and how you do it. This allows you to determine which areas have problems. Once you understand the problem, you can take steps to solve it.
In particular, train your focus on the following common issues:
Sometimes we have to provide services that we never expected. A client may have asked you to manage their social media or help with their IT needs. While tempted to decline, you need the business. That makes you half-heartedly agree with the project.
On the other hand, there may be more trouble with services that you thought would be winners than they are worth. They take too much time and do not help your bottom line.
In any case, you may be in a situation where these tasks no longer fit your business. That means you try to cover the services that will grow and the services that are failing.
This is where you have to make some tough decisions. Start by defining the services that are no longer viable. Sure, you may have to phase them out slowly. But that’s even better than being weighed down indefinitely.
The price of your services should improve. Costs rise steadily – as does the complexity of building websites.
That said, pricing can also be conclusive. You may have an hourly labor rate, which is completely different than your pricing scale for large projects. And then there’s the problem of different rates and billing policies all over your client list.
Without hiring an accountant, how can anyone keep track? The more clients you win, the more difficult it will all be. Trying to serve everyone leads to chaos.
The solution is to determine pricing that works for you and your clients (or as many of them as possible). Then apply it across the board.
When pricing is consistent, and everyone has the same rules, billing becomes simpler. You no longer have to spend time figuring out who gets what.
Effective communication is a big part of a successful business. Whether it’s with clients or staff, everyone needs to be on the same page. It’s usually one of the hardest things to fix.
Part of the question is that there are so many ways to keep in touch. Some people may prefer email, while others send text messages at all hours of the day. Old school fans are still relying on the lonely phone call. And that’s just scratching the surface.
It’s hard to stay on top of it all. For example, if you want to recall the specific details of your client application, you may need to search through a handful of messages from the past. It is a mess.
If you are leading a team, a standard method of communication must be implemented. That could be as simple as email. But project management apps, Slack channels, and even BuddyPress’s internal installation could do the job too.
Clients can be a little more difficult in that you don’t have as much talk in the subject. You can request that the communication come through a separate channel (ticket system, for example). Otherwise, attempting to log everything in a centralized location could also end the process.
Web designers are creatures of habit. We find a workflow we love and we stick to it. It’s a very personal part of running a business, and it brings comfort.
However, things change quickly. And chances are we are missing out on more efficient ways of getting things done.
Some tools and services can streamline design and development processes. Some even add automation to the mix. You can save time without sacrificing quality.
That is not to say that you have to change what works. But if you find yourself scrambling to get projects done, there may be better alternatives out there. Don’t be afraid to explore other options.
Best Simple Really
As the saying goes, it’s better to work smarter – not harder. That certainly applies to our work as web designers.
But your own business can be very complicated. This is especially true for those of us who do not come from a typical business background. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and spend too much time solving a mess.
The good news is that it is possible to take a step back and evaluate your pain points. And no matter what areas of your business have problems, there are proven ways to simplify them. Change does not usually happen overnight. But a consistent approach can lead to positive results.