Posts Tagged ‘Business Skills’

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 the help of several online courses, you, too, can work on your professional development at your own pace.

Five business skills beyond the degree

Published by | Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
Build business skills beyond your degree


Explore these courses at lynda.com.

Is a traditional college degree enough to compete in today’s workforce? A recent Today.com article suggests that potential employers aren’t just looking for targeted skills. They want a broad set of skills that reach beyond your job-specific role into business, analytical, and interpersonal areas. Being an expert in your particular field of knowledge is critical—but here are some complementary skills that potential employers may also consider valuable.

Save time and money by managing project “scope creep”

Published by | Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Everyone dreads “scope creep.” That’s when a project keeps expanding, either due to endless revisions or the addition of new work that wasn’t part of the original plan. To avoid it, be up front with clients about the number of changes covered in the fees that you’ve agreed upon. Additional work and/or revisions can certainly be accommodated, but you’ll need to amend the original agreement so that you’re fairly compensated for it.

What qualifies as a revision? What’s the difference between minor changes and substantial ones? You’ll have to define the line between the two, and make it clear to your client before you begin work; add this definition into the Terms & Conditions section of your agreement.

Monday Productivity Pointers: Using Google+ Hangouts

Published by | Monday, March 25th, 2013

Welcome to our new series Monday Productivity Pointers. Each week I’ll take a look at a different productivity tool and release two videos on the topic. These pointers can be a great way to test-drive tools and see if they’re right for you. But even if you’ve used them before, you’re likely to discover at least one feature that you probably didn’t know about!

I’ll share tools that I personally use all the time. They’ve helped me become more organized, professional, and mobile, and my hope is that they’ll do the same for you. From managing your finances with Mint.com to monitoring your online influence with Klout to creating presentations directly on the iPad with Keynote, check weekly to see what topic I’m covering and how it can help make you a more productive version of yourself. Do you have a tool you’d like me to cover? What’s your favorite online productivity tool? Let me know in the comments section below.

This week’s Monday Productivity Pointers is all about Google+ Hangouts.

What is the difference between Office 365 and Office 2013?

Published by | Friday, March 1st, 2013

Microsoft recently launched the new Office 365 as well as Office 2013. You are not alone if the various products have created confusion for you.

To clarify, Office 365 refers to the subscription models for Office, not a specific version, and it delivers the Office programs as part of your subscription. With online storage, sharing and syncing with the Microsoft cloud, Office 365 has features to make it easier for teams to collaborate and communicate with familiar applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

If you subscribe to Office 365 and are running Office on a Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine, you will see Office 2013 as your user interface. This means if you are a subscriber to Office 365, the lynda.com courses titled with version 2013 will be relevant and helpful for you. Microsoft is expected to push out updates to Office 365 on a quarterly basis, so over time we expect greater differences between these offerings. Rest assured, we are working to address the anticipated divergence between Office 365 and Office 2013 in our future training courses.

Suggested courses to watch next:

• Office 2013 New Features
• Up and Running with Office Web Apps
• Excel 2013 Essential Training

Getting to know Office 2013 and Office 365

Published by | Monday, February 18th, 2013

Now that Microsoft has officially launched Office 365, we’d like to introduce you to our lineup of new Office training content.

You can use our new playlist feature to create your own personalized Office learning path. First determine which version of Office you’ll be using: Will you be starting with the cloud-based subscription Office 365? Or will you be taking the more traditional route with Office 2013? Note: if you are running Office 365 on a Windows 7 or 8, your version of Office will have the new features of Office 2013.

If you’re unfamiliar with the new Microsoft subscription model, I would suggest adding both David Rivers’s Up and Running with Office 365 and Curt Frye’s Up and Running with Office Web Apps to your playlist. David’s course introduces the Office 365 subscription model and how it works. Curt’s course takes you into the individual applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

The best course to start with to get an overall view of the latest Office features is David Rivers’s Office 2013 New Features. David walks you through the major applications in the suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, OneNote, and Outlook. Get a peek at integrating Office with the cloud. David covers the changes to the user interface, key new features, and product enhancements.

Figure 1 David Rivers shows you the suite.

David Rivers shows you the suite.

Figure 2 David Rivers takes you through the changes in Office 2013.

David Rivers takes you through the changes in Office 2013.

Figure 3 David Rivers shows you how to use SkyDrive with Office 2013.

David Rivers shows you how to use SkyDrive with Office 2013.

Once you’ve watched Office 2013 New Features, you’ll probably be ready to dive into your favorite Office application. We have more coming over the next few weeks, but to start you off we have Essential Training courses ready for SharePoint, Excel, Word, Access, Outlook, and PowerPoint.

If you use SharePoint, start off with Gini Courter’s SharePoint Foundation 2013 Essential Training. The Essential Training covers all the basics and features. You’ll also get a deeper look at how SharePoint integrates with all the Office applications.

Excel 2010 Essential Training has been one of our most highly viewed courses. Dennis Taylor takes you through all the basics from organizing your data to working with formulas, worksheets, pivot tables, and charts in Excel 2013 Essential Training.

Next up is David Rivers’s Word 2013 Essential Training. Learn the basics of creating and editing documents, using templates and building blocks, sharing and collaborating in documents, and working with tables.

If Access is more your thing, then take a look at Adam Wilbert’s course on Access 2013 Essential Training. Adam demonstrates how to create and work with tables, forms, reports, and macros and how to use that data in other Office applications such as Excel and Word.

Our newest staff author and productivity guru, Jess Stratton, has two Essential Training courses for you: PowerPoint 2013 Essential Training and Outlook 2013 Essential Training. In PowerPoint 2013 Essential Training, Jess shows you the basics of creating, editing, working with, and sharing presentations. In Outlook 2013 Essential Training, Jess gives you a tour of the interface and teaches you how to create, send, organize, and read mail; use contacts; leverage productivity with tasks and notes; and manage your day with Outlook.

Keep an eye on our new release list for more.

Interested in more?

• All lynda.com Office courses
• All lynda.com Business courses

Manage unplanned expenses in your web projects

Published by | Monday, January 28th, 2013

When working on a website design or redesign project, have you ever encountered small, unanticipated fees in the course of doing business? These might include costs for stock photography, fonts, content management system extensions, domain name(s), static IP addresses … the list goes on!

Rather than paying this cost from your own budget, or hitting the client up with a bunch of little fees (which gets annoying on both sides), consider quoting a separate line item for website design and development fees. I typically budget roughly 10 percent of the total for this. This is for any additional costs for assembling the site. There’s no guarantee you’ll use this at all, but if you need it, the money is there!

Four steps to professional growth

Published by | Friday, January 25th, 2013

Many of us understand the importance of investing money to make more money. A consistent investment strategy can help you gain a steady financial footing.

Do you have a similar plan to invest time in your professional development? Do you have a strategy to invest a little time to increase your value at your workplace?

I recommend these four steps to invest time in your professional development:

First, determine how much time, on a weekly basis, you are willing and have available to invest in your professional growth. For most people, somewhere between two and five hours a week is appropriate. Whatever you feel is appropriate, schedule that time in your calendar and set it aside as sacred.

Second, choose your area of focus. Pick an area where you don’t have responsibility yet or have yet to prove yourself. For instance, let’s say you’re a marketing assistant and want to become a marketing director. You may begin studying topics essential to becoming a marketing director and determining what types of projects and topics marketing directors initiate and manage.

Third, select your course materials for your area of focus. What do you need to study to reach your goal? As a lynda.com member, you have a wealth of classes to choose from in several areas. You can also create multiple playlists of courses that interest you and prioritize them to set learning goals. You might invest in relevant books and trade magazines or consult your local library for resources. You may also research software and company systems related to your desired position.

Fourth, make a commitment to deliver an assignment. Go to someone you know and respect and tell them what you are working on. Make a concrete commitment not only to the assignment, but also to a particular due date. Doing this will strengthen your personal commitment. It will also get the other person on your support team and possibly as an invested mentor.

These four steps are just a starting point for your professional growth. What other suggestions would you offer to help others invest in their own career? What actions have you taken that have helped you in your own career? Please comment on this page and I look forward to talking with you.

Interested in more?

• Courses by Dave Crenshaw on lynda.com
• All lynda.com Career Development courses
• All lynda.com Business courses

Suggested courses to watch next:

• Enhancing Your Productivity
• Discovering Your Strengths
• Building Your Professional Network