You’ve decided to set up your own independent design business but now you’re thinking: how do I stand out in the marketplace? Crucially, it’s about taking the ambition and imagination that got you this far and remaining faithful to it. Your independence is your trump card and the fresh ideas, energy, and enthusiasm your start-up inevitably boasts are what’s going to distinguish you. But you still need clients, and at the beginning, the toughest challenge is getting and keeping them. So let’s see how you go about pursuing success.
Make a Good First Impression
Delivering a successful project that meets your client’s expectations isn’t simply about ensuring you get paid. It’s about building your reputation. That customer might come back to you for another project or recommend you to another business. They may even talk about you on social media. That’s why it’s vital in the early days of your company to make a good impression.
You should act professionally at all times: from your conduct during communication with your clients to having a contract in place, issuing invoices, and taking care to understand your liabilities in regard to, for example, non-disclosure agreements, tax, and, when relevant, employer law. Consult with a legal advisor to create your own policies including privacy and refund guidelines and how you handle disputes and other legal issues. Meanwhile, business insurance can help you protect the business from its liability in the event of such problems arising, like copyright violations and even a client hurting themselves at your office.
Begin to build your presence within the market with a good website that details your services and key capabilities, and consider free or low-cost methods to promote yourself online through, for example, Twitter or Instagram. With your design experience it shouldn’t be difficult to create a good logo to help differentiate yourself and this will be helped by understanding your market in order to stand out from the competition.
If you enjoy some initial success, look at how you can reinvest back into the business in order to improve. You might have managed to build a great website but if your SEO knowledge is lacking, hire an expert to help out. If you’re taking on more work you might start thinking about bringing in additional staff or contractors to carry some of the load. Standing out in a competitive market is about knowing how to manage your finances to channel profit and drive growth. This not only means maintaining reliability for current clients but being capable of enhancing your solution with the capacity to tackle emerging business opportunities.
Ultimately, for any start-up business, the toughest challenges lie in gaining and retaining clients. Using your independence – and your commercial infancy – to your advantage means being flexible and readily available, focused on client needs, and capable of reacting to project commitments without the burden of heavy workloads, massive overheads, and tired staff. That, in turn, means a better final project that satisfies expectation and leaves your customer happy.