We often talk about how you can succeed as a web designer and provide you with tips on overcoming the challenges. Our recent article about writing a web design and development proposal, for instance, went through the information you need to include to make your proposal more appealing in the eyes of potential clients.
The business side of the web design industry is inseparable from the actual design and development process. Projects need to be handled professionally, and you have to have normal business processes – such as sales and marketing – to take your web design business to the next level.
Tackling business challenges is how you succeed as a web designer, regardless of whether you operate as a business or a freelancer. That is why in this article, we are going to take a break from the latest UX tips and HTML5 tricks and review some of the things you need to know about running a web design business.
Project Management Like a Pro
Each web development project is a small part of your life as a web developer. One failed project can harm your entire reputation; one unhappy client is all it takes to hamper your progress in this field. This means every project you handle needs to be managed meticulously.
This is where good project management comes in handy. If you read the article about writing a proposal, you know that it all begins with setting objectives and understanding them. You can then develop the right timeframe and divide the project into smaller sections or phases.
The financial side of the project is important too. A successful web development project must do more than meet its objectives. It must achieve those objectives while using resources – including the allocated budget – efficiently.
The Importance of a Healthy Cash Flow
A lot of web designers, especially those who aspire to take their web design business to a whole new level, are pursuing online degrees from reputable universities like Suffolk University for two reasons.
First, the online programs are flexible enough to complete while working as a freelancer or as a fulltime web developer.
The second (and more important) reason is the business skills they aim to pick up along the way. You too can master critical business skills such as accounting and business management by pursuing an MBA. The skills you acquire will then be useful for managing the most important part of your business: the cash flow.
Maintaining a healthy cash flow is always about balancing your income and your expenses. You want to be able to cover your expenses without harming your cash flow. In the web design industry, where you don’t always get invoices cleared on a regular basis, knowing how to organize expenses accordingly and maintain a healthy cash flow becomes crucial.
Sales and More Sales
Sales is another important business process to manage properly in order to succeed in today’s competitive landscape. Sales is different than marketing. The latter is most likely something you are already doing on a regular basis. Maintaining a strong online presence and letting your work do the talking are parts of your marketing efforts.
Sales is more about converting the exposure you have gained from marketing efforts to actual business; paying clients. This requires in-depth knowledge of things like networking, negotiation tactics, and good business presentation. These are skills that can (and need to) be mastered if you are serious about becoming successful as a web developer.
Fortunately, you also have the option to bring in salespeople to help you tackle this business process. That brings us to our next point.
A Strong Team
At the end of the day, you can’t expect to do everything by yourself. I know a lot of developers who started their career as a solo freelancer and ended up with a lean team of great people as they got higher in the market. At some point, you have to start thinking about bringing in specialists to tackle business challenges.
Yes, developers can help you get things done in projects, but salespeople will help you find more projects to work on, accounting experts will keep your business finances healthy, and business development specialists will take care of steering your business towards the right objectives. These business-centric team members are just as valuable as developers and designers.
Here’s one last tip to keep in mind: don’t wait until tackling the business challenges of the web design industry becomes too complicated. The sooner you start taking the business side of your life as a web developer seriously, the sooner you can reach new heights in the industry.