These days it’s pretty easy to find information about building a web site. You can find info on everything from how to create your graphics to what content you should include on your web site. More than likely, you could probably write articles on building web sites with all the knowledge you’ve gathered.
However, there’s more to running a successful web design business than being able to build great web sites. First, you have to take care of the logistics of running that business. And that’s what this article is about: teaching you what you need to know about running your web design business.
So, here’s a list of steps and processes you should implement to run an efficient web design business.
Employ a client questionnaire before starting a project. In order to accurately estimate the cost of a project (for you and for the potential client), you have to know exactly what the client needs and wants. By using a questionnaire that asks all the right questions, you can pinpoint the time you’ll need for the project and what your costs are going to be. Additionally, a questionnaire has the added benefit of showing the customer that you really know what you’re doing and that you’re serious about getting their site exactly right.
Create formal proposals for clients. Many potential clients want to know exactly what they’ll be getting, in written terms, before starting on a project. They want to know what their options are, what your ideas for their project are, and most importantly, they want to know that you’re a true professional. A formal proposal says a number of things about your firm:
- You’re well established
- You have meticulous business practices
- You’re very serious about your work
- You’re very good at what you do
Here’s what to include in your proposals:
- a cover sheet
- a cover letter
- exact site specifications
- development guidelines
- payment terms
- site storyboard
- a contract (see below)
Create a set of generic, multi-purpose legally binding documents. Oftentimes, a client might request that you do not disclose information about their business practices, trade secrets, etc. to anyone. Most clients will feel uncomfortable simply "taking your word for it" and will require an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to be signed by you. When this happens, it’s extremely expensive and time-consuming to involve a lawyer to draw up the agreement. It’s far easier to have a generic document on hand that you can customize as needed and just use whenever you have the need.
Additionally, in order to protect your interests and make sure that you always get paid in full, it’s wise to create a generic contract that you can customize for each project you work on.
Develop an estimating system that allows you to accurately predict your costs and the client’s costs. There are quite a few different ways to do this, so take some time to sit down and figure out how to do it for your business. It doesn’t have to be anything complex. It could be something as simple as charging per page, etc. But it’s important that it’s accurate and will allow you to make sure you don’t undercharge for projects and put yourself in a jam.
Putting all this into practice may take a fair amount of time and money, but once you do, you’ll be amazed at how such small changes in the way you do business can increase your sales and your effeciency.
(By the way, you can get much of the stuff above from a company called Proposal Kit; just go to ProposalKit. I bought their "Standard" package and I’ve been really happy with it.)