Whether you’ve spent the past few years dabbling in web design on the side or working for a larger firm, there comes a point in time when many people shift gears and think about launching their very own web design companies or freelance businesses.
If you’re thinking about doing something similar, you need to understand a few important ideas and truths.
1. Carefully Calculate Startup Costs
If there’s one thing young entrepreneurs often underestimate, it’s the true cost of launching a startup. Everything has a cost and you need to do everything you can to account for as many of these expenses as possible.
Think about everything from trademarking and logo design to website hosting expenses, software, and administrative expenses. Will you be hiring employees right from the start? Do you need a physical office space? How much will a good accountant cost? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer.
2. Find a Mentor
It’s virtually impossible to succeed in the web design industry – and the business world in general – without aligning yourself with other intelligent and skilled professionals. And if you’re launching your first web design company, then make sure you have a mentor.
“Having a mentor is the absolute best ways [sic] to educate yourself in the business world. Find someone who is doing what you want to do, who is further down the line and who has a proven track record of success,” says Timothy Sykes, a successful investor and entrepreneur. “Once you find this person, befriend them, and learn everything you possibly can from them. Consider yourself an apprentice, learning the trade while beginning to get to work.”
3. Create a Unique Selling Proposition
There are thousands of web design companies in the industry. In fact, there are probably dozens of them in your own zip code. Why should clients choose you over the competition? (Being a nice guy doesn’t count.) If you want to succeed, then you need to differentiate your brand by creating a unique selling proposition.
“In order to be remembered in a crowded marketplace, it helps if your business has a trait that is worth remembering,” says Gregory Ciotti, small business marketing expert. “While a superior product and outstanding service are the foundation for growing a company that goes the distance, there is an opportunity to use differentiation as a competitive advantage in order to ‘stand out like a sore thumb.’”
A unique selling proposition should fit into a single statement or phrase. If you can’t narrow it down this much, then keep working. The shorter and more specific the proposition, the more likely prospective clients will find value in it.
4. Build a Strong Portfolio
While your new web design company may not have a bunch of work to its name, you do. Go through your past projects and pull out the top pieces. Now, work on developing a simple and aesthetically pleasing portfolio on your website. Spend a lot of time and effort directing traffic to this portfolio. Unless people see your work, it’s unlikely that they’ll reach out to you.
5. Set the Right Rates
Finally, make sure you set appropriate and fair market rates. Many web design companies launch and assume they can set high prices that compete with leading brands in the industry. This simply isn’t feasible. Understand your place and begin with an entry-level price point.
Ready, Set, Launch
Every web design entrepreneur takes a different path, but these helpful tips and pointers will ensure you achieve success as quickly as possible. Mull over these ideas and don’t launch until you’re fully prepared to give this new endeavor the attention it deserves.