Business - Post archive

Six tips to manage your web design business

Published by | Sunday, April 20th, 2014

6 tips for running your web design business

Running your web design agency demands more than excellent design and technical skills. Until you can hire professionals, you need to manage the marketing, accounting, HR, sales negotiating and peacekeeping—for those rocky moments with unhappy clients or disgruntled staff. You can learn more about the responsibilities of being “the boss” in the Defining realities and roles tutorial from the lynda.com course Running a Design Business: Starting Small.

Meanwhile, here are six tips for running your agency:

1. FINANCE
Keep up to date with your accounting and invoicing procedures. Cash flow is the lifeblood of a small business and lack of management in this key area is often why a business fails.

It’s especially important that everyone working on a client’s web project, including freelancers, log their time. Include time spent by admin staff chasing clients for digital content or payment.

Invoice clients as soon as a project has ended, according to the payment terms you agreed on. Hiring a bookkeeper, even part time, is a worthwhile investment for any web design agency and can mean the difference between getting paid and losing money. Bookkeepers can monitor invoices, chase late payments with reminders, and alert you to any defaulters. Clients can be late making payment for many reasons, so by offering creative financing options most situations can be resolved amicably, keeping your business relationship intact. Good financial practices contribute to good client management.

2. ESTIMATING & PRICING
Establish a clear fee rate table for estimating and pricing web design projects. Make sure it includes a percentage of all your overhead costs and has a profit margin built into it.

Your rate table gives a starting point for pricing a client’s web project and fees can be modified depending on the volume of work. For more advice, watch the lynda.com course Running a Design Business.

3. MARKETING
Your web design business needs a steady flow of work to keep it in good health. Creating a marketing strategy helps you identify your target market and plan how you’re going to connect with and win clients. It should include the budget you’re allocating to marketing activities and you should review your strategy regularly.

Make it a rule that you ask every happy client for a referral when your project ends. This simple request can generate a lot of business.

One source of potential business is your list of previous (hopefully satisfied) clients. This list is often overlooked, but well-planned client management can generate repeat business and referrals to new clients. Make time to stay in touch with your list and keep those business relationships active.

4. CLIENT CONTRACTS
Once your client agrees to give you a project, a contract should be created covering all essential points discussed during initial meetings. You can have an attorney create a contract template suitable for a web design business. You then customize it by adding the client’s unique project details plus any contingency clauses you need. It often needs several revisions until everyone agrees to the content and the client signs on the dotted line.

This contract can be very detailed, depending on the size of the project, and should be used as a working document that describes each party’s obligations and responsibilities throughout the web project. It can be amended at any time if the scope of the project changes.

5. MENTOR
Having a mentor can prove to be a valuable asset because it allows you to
• See a situation through more experienced eyes
• Learn a lot
• Become better at managing your web design business and your staff, too
• Expand your support network and business contacts
• Your mentor may suggest routes and ideas you haven’t considered
• You become accountable to your mentor
• A mentor can often see bigger pictures (or problems) that you can’t because you’re too involved in the business

6. NEVER STOP LEARNING.
Technology changes all the time, as does the software used in web design, so nurture your creative team and encourage them to take advanced learning courses to become certified professionals in web design techniques or programming.

Managing a web design business takes a lot of time, but with dozens of online courses available 24/7, you, too, can work on your professional development at your own pace.

Choose to become a leader

Published by | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Choose to become a leader

Leadership is not an exclusive club. Anyone can join.

Anyone includes introverts, too. In my first tip this week, we examine the fallacy that extroverts make better leaders than introverts. Sure, in some situations, an extrovert’s tendency to speak confidently and off-the-cuff can be very effective. But in others, an introvert’s tendency to carefully process thoughts before speaking may be exactly what’s needed.

Protect yourself from the Heartbleed vulnerability

Published by | Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Heartbleed - what you need to know

Learn how to protect yourself and your sites from the Heartbleed vulnerability, the security flaw that can put sensitive user data at risk and affects hundreds of thousands of websites. Today lynda.com released Protecting Yourself from the Heartbleed Bug, a short course that explains what Heartbleed is and how to protect yourself from it, and offers resources for tracking the developing situation. Heartbleed Tactics for Small IT shops also released today; it provides tactics and information to help those who administer a small web server diagnose their vulnerability and fix issues.

Living with Google Glass

Published by | Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Doug Winnie - Living with Google Glass

Living in San Francisco, you see people wearing Google Glass often: at coffee shops, at restaurants, on trains. The Glass Explorer program, a group of people invited by Google to purchase Glass before its official release, has been expanding over time. As a result, thousands of Explorers are now using Google Glass and informing Google on how to improve it.

I’m part of the program myself, having received my Glass invitation in December. So I plunked down my $1,500 and went to the Google Glass office in San Francisco to pick it up. The “fitting,” as they called it, took place in a cavernous and sparse office building near the Embarcadero with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. A Glass-wearing representative helped me through the setup process then showed me how to connect it to my phone. Afterwards, I was turned loose to wander the streets of San Francisco with my new piece of fancy eyewear.

But instead—I put it away.

How to install Google Analytics to WordPress in 5 minutes

Published by | Monday, April 14th, 2014

Install Google Analytics into WordPress in 5 minutes

If you can copy and paste text, you can install Google Analytics to WordPress. All you need is an established self-hosted WordPress.org website or blog, a Google Analytics account, and five minutes or less.

Note: You can only install Google Analytics on self-hosted WordPress.org sites and blogs. WordPress-hosted WordPress.com blogs won’t let you alter your header file or otherwise make low-level changes to your website infrastructure.

Update firmware on your devices

Published by | Monday, April 14th, 2014

firmware_chip

If you own consumer electronic devices like Internet routers, printers, laptop computers, and mobile phones, eventually you’ll need to update the firmware on one or more of them to either fix a known issue, or update the device’s functionality. This week on Monday Productivity Pointers, we’ll take a look at the often confusing process of firmware updates. I’ll explain what firmware actually is, how it’s different from software, and when and why it’s appropriate to update the firmware on your devices.

3 business writing tips for non-writers

Published by | Sunday, April 13th, 2014

3 business writing tips for non-writers

How many emails have you written to colleagues, clients, or customers this week? If the answer is one or more, you should consider business writing as part of your job—even if the word “writer” is not in your title.

Business writing is any written communication to teammates, stakeholders, and other people you work with. The good news: You don’t have to be a creative writing major to be an excellent business writer; in fact, you don’t even have to be creative. All you need is the desire to communicate in a way that leaves your reader feeling informed and prepared to take action.

To help you get there, here are three of my favorite tips from the Business Writing Fundamentals course on lynda.com. For simplicity, I’m focusing on email here, but these tips can also be applied to handwritten notes, memos, printed letters, and more.

Introducing Google Glass

Published by | Friday, April 11th, 2014

Introducing Google Glass

Have you got your eye on Google Glass? Google recently announced that anyone in the United States can apply to become part of its Glass Explorer Program and order the $1,500 device starting at 9 a.m. EST on Tuesday, April 15. Prepare for this exciting new release with a first look at the popular wearable computing device’s features and functionality in our new course Introducing Google Glass, available today.