Running your own web design business is exciting – if not a bit scary. As the head decisionmaker, you get to pick and choose your path. There’s just something exhilarating about venturing out on your own.
But it’s also undeniably difficult. The decisions you make along the way, sometimes against your better judgment, can have a lasting impact. For example, saying “yes” to a client you’re not thrilled about could mean being stuck with them for years.
There’s a lot at stake. Things can become overly complicated before you know it. Thus, your excitement turns into dread.
If your business is a tangled mess – or you’re concerned it could become one – not to worry. Today we’ll share some tips that will help you simplify your work and bring peace of mind.
Determine the Problematic 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 take a hard look at what you’re doing and how you do it. This allows you to determine which areas are problematic. Once you understand the problem, you can take steps to fix it.
In particular, train your focus on the following common issues:
Sometimes, we fall into providing services that we never envisioned. It could be that a client asked you to manage their social media or help with their IT needs. While tempted to decline, you need the business. That leads you to halfheartedly agree to the project.
On the other hand, services you thought would be winners can turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth. They take up too much time and aren’t helping your bottom line.
Either way, you may be in a situation where these tasks no longer fit the direction of your business. That leaves you attempting to cover both the services that will bring growth and those that are dead ends.
This is where you have to make some tough decisions. Start by defining the services that are no longer viable. Sure, you may need to phase them out slowly. But that’s still better than being weighed down indefinitely.
The price of your services should evolve. Costs steadily rise – along with the complexity of building websites.
That being said, pricing can also become unwieldy. You might 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 throughout your client list.
Short of hiring an accountant, how can anyone keep track? The more clients you gain, the more difficult this all becomes. Trying to accommodate 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 plays by the same rules, billing becomes simpler. You’ll no longer have to spend time figuring out who gets what.
Effective communication is a major component of a successful business. Whether it’s with clients or team members, everyone needs to be on the same page. It also tends to be one of the most difficult things to get right.
Part of the issue 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 adherents still rely on the dreaded phone call. And that’s only scratching the surface.
Staying on top of it all is cumbersome at best. For instance, trying to recall a specific detail of a client request could have you searching through a pile of past messages. It’s a mess.
If you’re in charge of a team, implementing a standard method of communication is a must. That could be as simple as email. But project management apps, Slack channels, and even an internal BuddyPress install could get the job done as well.
Clients can be a bit more difficult in that you don’t have quite as much say in the matter. You can certainly request that communication come through a specific channel (a ticketing system, for example). Short of that, making an effort to log everything in a centralized place could also take the sting out of the process.
Web designers are creatures of habit. We find a workflow we love and stick with it. It’s a very personal part of running a business, and it brings comfort.
However, things change rapidly. And there’s a possibility that we’re missing out on more efficient methods for getting things done.
Several tools and services can streamline the design and development processes. Some even add automation to the mix. You can save time without sacrificing quality.
That’s not to say you need to change what’s been working. But if you find yourself scrambling to complete projects, there may be better alternatives out there. Don’t be afraid to explore other options.
Simple Really Is Better
As the old saying goes, it’s better to work smarter – not harder. That certainly applies to our work as web designers.
But having your own business can get extremely complex. This is especially the case for those of us who don’t come from a typical business background. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and spend too much time untangling messes.
The good news is that it is possible to take a step back and assess your pain points. And no matter which areas of your business are problematic, there are proven ways to simplify them. Change usually doesn’t happen overnight. But a steady approach can lead to positive results.