If only I had known earlier what I now know. ”That’s what I tell people. I’m quitting my job because I knew I wanted to do web development and that was all. I didn’t have a customer list or potential customers. I knew I wanted to be challenged and make more money. I’ve done both successfully since then, but I couldn’t do it all overnight. I didn’t even know I was interested in starting a web design agency, but I finally did.
8 tips you need to start a web design agency
Over the past few years I’ve learned valuable lessons about what it takes to run a web design agency successfully. Here are my best takeaways:
- A rethink is required when starting an agency
- Find a partner
- Find a good balance between work and free time
- Find a mentor
- Consolidate regular sales
- Find space for your office – virtual or not
- Write contracts
- Define a process
Let’s look at a few lessons that it took me years to learn.
1. Starting your own web design agency requires a rethink
I started in a lifestyle business and it was just taking too long for me to realize that I could have done the business much earlier. So it may be that you too have to rethink if you want to make your business bigger.
2. Find a (strategic) partner
I think it’s difficult to be an all-rounder for people. So the key is partnerships. I thought I could do sales, development, design, distribution, etc. on my own, but I quickly teamed up with Adam Walker and from then on I didn’t have to worry about design and sales anymore. On the other hand, he couldn’t develop as well as I did, which is why we complemented each other very well. You don’t always have to look for a 50/50 partner, but a person who has the same goals as yourself will give you less headache.
Thanks to our collaboration, Adam was able to devote more time to shaking hands and other smiles. I’m more technical and feel most comfortable developing, so it’s difficult for me to get in touch with customers and keep in touch (a bit over the top)! As we grew, Adam didn’t design anything of his own for the company for years. That gave him the opportunity to sell products and bring that value to the company.
“If nobody goes out and sells their own products, when projects that have been worked on are completed, then in the future you will just hinder each other.”
Keep the process going, even if it could slow down ongoing projects.
3. Live a good work-life balance
I knew I didn’t want to work 80 hours a week. Or more precisely, because I had a family, I couldn’t work an incredible number of hours. I’ve found that after working 10 hours in a day, my productivity drops dramatically. I could keep working and slowly write codes that are getting worse and worse. But I could also rest so that I am more productive the next day. Divide your strength just right. If you think that you can no longer work and are exhausted, then take a break. Nothing is more unproductive than not being 100% in shape for your company.
4. Find a mentor
There will never be a shortage of people who have made a living doing what you want to do right now. We worked with a mentor for about a year and they convinced us that what we do is worth three times what we calculated. It was clear that we weren’t doing enough for the kind of custom WordPress development we were doing.
Our mentor helped us learn more about value-based approaches
You could have the same type of functionality on a small mom pop-up store as you would on a multi-million dollar business, but it’s worth a lot more to a large company. Calculate what it’s worth.
5. Building recurring income
Always focus on this type of work. Even if you have too much work today, you have prepared yourself for the future. Recurring sales growth is good for you and good for customers. Think as easy as possible – maybe you offer a maintenance plan for your customers’ website.
6. Find office space, online or offline
At Sideways8 we work remotely. We don’t see any point in an office overhead. I think it only works if your contractors or employees could work remotely. Some people need micromanagement; if so, I would say you need an office and regular meetings. If you have a team of self-starters, then you can save yourself the hassle of an office. At the beginning of a new company in particular, it is important to save money wherever possible.
7. Write contracts
A smile and a handshake work great until at some point it stops. Our contract started out very general, for example “website with calendar”. But what does that mean? What does it look like? Do you need recurring events? Must tickets be sold. What types of payment for the tickets are accepted? Who is the credit card processor? Where do we get the SSL certificate from ? So you understood what I mean. Write everything down – especially the timeline and content.
Always create the content before you have created a page!
We waited two years and two months to get content from a customer. We had everything created quickly and then just waited for the content. Since we didn’t have any details in the contract, we did all the work for 50% upfront and couldn’t get the other 50% until the site went live. So always get the content in advance before you create the page. You are free to include the content as a single item in the contract. In any case, up-selling in the contract does not do any harm.
8. Define your processes
I think it’s the most important part, but it could be even more difficult to perfect then. Do you have a plan for every project and don’t you deviate from it? If it doesn’t go down well with you and your client, then you should adapt it for the next project. Trying to hit a moving target is difficult, but if you define everything and put it on a piece of paper then the target is attainable. Because the more precisely you define your goals, the easier they are to implement and ultimately the more achievable they are.
1. Time tracking
Track your time for everything you do. Things add up, a phone call here, an email there that needs to be billed to be profitable. Time is one of the most important things that one can no longer get.
2. Project management
Find an online tool that will keep you on top of things. The bigger the projects get, the more difficult it is to manage them via email. If you or the client brings in someone new to work on the project, you need a way to go through what was done.
3. Change requests
You will always want to please a customer, but when you start simply making unplanned changes to the project, a door will open for your customer to expect big change requests for free. You can document a change request and make sure you know it will cost something.
Going on your own is hard, and growing and starting a web design agency is difficult in some ways. In some easier. It will always be easier when you surround yourself with “big” people. Always be ready to hire people who are smarter and better than yourself.
This article is written by the Digital Gravity web development Dubai company offers the wide array of solutions such as web programming, web design, SEO and marketing know-how from a single source with a manageable budget.