Believe it or not, searching for a job doesn’t have to be overwhelming and stressful.
If you feel like your job search has you treading water, follow these five tips to get organized, visible, connected—and headed down the path to employment.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This evening Windows XP will be taken off life support and pass into the ether of magnetic media. Loved by millions across the globe, XP will be missed by many. The child of Windows ME and Windows 2000, Windows XP joined the robustness of a 32-bit NT kernel with a friendly consumer interface, and proved to be greater than the sum of its parents.
In its early years, Windows XP was frequently derided as “garish” or “cartoonish,” but its tenacity eventually won over the hearts of millions. XP experimented in the mobile space with Windows XP Tablet Edition during its adolescence, which ultimately was a growing phase for the young OS that didn’t work out as expected. During a journey of minimalism, XP crammed itself onto pint-sized netbooks that gave people half as much to carry, but took four times as long to launch anything.
This week’s first tip takes aim at our unquestioning love of teams. For the last half century, building a team to handle issues has been the de facto response to big challenges at work.
The idea is simple. Two heads (or three or four) are better than one. More experience and more ideas make for more effective decision making, right?
Not necessarily. First, there are many ineffective ways to build teams. From staffing and training to recognition and rewards, we don’t always think about all the issues that should be involved when building a team.
Each January we make resolutions and set lofty goals—but following through with them can be a challenge. Have you already lost sight of your goals for 2014? Or have you considered abandoning them altogether because they seem too difficult?
Brain experts say that once you set a goal it’s natural for your mind to begin thinking of reasons why you should not, or cannot, accomplish it. You brain goes on autopilot, insisting that your goal is unattainable because of x, y, and z. But you can learn to shut down that negative reasoning, and I’ll show you how.
It’s sometimes shocking how useful honesty can be, yet we often avoid it. Take hiring talent as an example. We should be honest to ensure that candidates know exactly what they are getting into. But instead of telling them about team quirks, odd office dynamics, and long hours driven by client needs, we often lie. We push out polished and agreed–upon images about a team and company that don’t exist in the real world. We tell them everything we can think of that is good about us, but nothing that sounds remotely imperfect or strange.