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Are you taking measure of your design business?Whether you are running your design business full-time or part-time, you probably started it with a vision of how your ideal business should look.
How does it measure up? Are you exceeding your expectations or are you falling short? If you are exceeding your expectations, do you know how you're doing it? What is contributing to your success and can you sustain it and continue to grow your design business?
If you’re falling short of your vision of an ideal design business, do you know why? Knowing why your falling short is a significant step in rectifying your situation.
I’m publishing this during the first week of 2019. I know it’s cliché but the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to look at your design business and see if it measures up to what you imagined it would be. It’s also the perfect time to make any needed changes to realign and get back on track if it isn't.
For most people, the beginning of a new calendar year also means the beginning of a new fiscal year. If you've been in business for more than a year you can take some time and compare the past year over the previous ones to see how things stand. A new year also means you have a clean slate to build upon going forward.
Taking measure of my own business, I see that I didn’t grow in 2018. I made about $2,000 less in 2018 than I did in 2017. In the grand scheme of things, $2,000 isn’t that much, so I’m not worried about it. But it is the first time since I started my design business that I haven’t seen growth from the previous year.
So what went wrong?
I invoiced for more design work in 2018 than I ever have. So that’s not the issue. Looking at my accounting books, I see that revenue from the print brokering service I offer declined. Design revenue went up, while print brokering went down. Please don't take that the wrong way, there’s still a significant amount of money to be made in print brokering if you’re thinking of getting into it.
I believe I can pinpoint the decline in print brokering revenue to three clients. I had two clients who went completely digital and decided not to have printed versions of their annual report last year. A third client, a yearly festival had some financial difficulty and drastically reduced the number of booklets, pamphlets, posters and other printed material I handled for them.
Between the three of them, I lost several thousand dollars in printing revenue. Considering this, I need to take the time to figure out how I can make up for the decline in print brokering revenue going forward should the trend continue. Should I concentrate on promoting my print brokering service more, or should I focus on getting more design work? That’s up to me to decide.
What you need to decide is what it is you want to accomplish with your design business this year. I don't know your particular situation so I can’t tell you exactly what you need to do, but I can offer some suggestions that may help your business grow.
Improve your touchpoints
Touchpoints are the avenues potential clients come in contact with your business. They consist of things like your business cards to your website to the way you answer your phone. My free guide, the Four-Week Marketing Boost can help you with this. As the old saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” so why not make it the best first impression you can.
Review your contract and proposals
Take a few minutes to review your contract and proposal templates. Do they protect both you and your clients as thoroughly as they should? Make sure any new services you offer are listed and remove anything that is outdated.
Raise your prices
The beginning of a new year is a perfect opportunity to raise your rates. Especially but not limited to anything you charge for by the hour. Raising your prices not only increases your income, but it can elevate the quality of clients who seek you out.
Expand your services
Did you learn anything new last year that you could add as a service you offer? SEO, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Print Brokering and so much more can become new services that can increase your income.
Have you considered specialising in a niche? Narrowing your focus and concentrating on one industry is a great way to be seen as an expert in your field. The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to start targeting a new niche.
Set goals for your business.
Of course, January is the perfect time to set goals not only for yourself but for your design business. Determine what it is you want to accomplish this year. Having a goal makes it much easier to track your progress, and it becomes much more satisfying when you reach it.
Any time of year works
No specific time of year is best for reviewing your design business, but January seems like the most popular time for taking measure of things in your life. However, even if you are listening to this episode in April or in July, you can still take a bit of time for taking measure of where things stand with your design business and make whatever course corrections you need to make.
What did you find after taking measure of your design business?
Let me know how things are working out for you by leaving a comment for this episode.
Resource of the week Four Week Marketing Boost
The Four Week Marketing Boost! is a free guide I created that will help you strengthen your marketing position, boost your brand’s awareness & social presence and ultimately ensure you are in tip-top shape to offer a best first impression to potential new clients.
This guide is divided into 20 short actions that comfortably fit into your regular day and are designed to take as little time away from your client work as possible. Although you can complete these exercises quickly, it is recommended you tackle only one per day, spending no more than 30 minutes per task. After completing this four-week plan you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients.
You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost for free by visiting marketingboost.net.
Or, if you are in the U.S.A., you can text the word MARKETINGBOOST to 44222.
Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.
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I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.
I want to help you.
Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org