So, you’ve put aside some money to start your graphic design business. You decide to provide select services at first since you can afford to hire only a couple of designers initially (e.g., custom logo designs, website designs and other small tasks). You don’t have a ton of graphic design experience, but you are enthusiastic about it. You figure you will learn along the way.
After all, you’ve heard that graphic design is very lucrative. It should all work out, right?
Fast forward one year and your P&L is bleeding red. You’ve struggled to sign clients on retainer and you’re not yet profitable. Meanwhile, you’ve learned quite a few startup lessons the hard way.
There are quite a few things you wish you knew from day one. Here’s a look at 6 things you need to know.
1. Sound knowledge of graphic design
If you start a graphic design company without having sound design knowledge you’re just asking for trouble. Unless you have a business partner who knows the technical stuff, you will always be a step behind.
Even if you hire on exceptional designers, you will not be able to spot subtle technicalities of their work. This can result in a poor quality of work. Similarly, you need to justify your graphic design rates. Before you start, you need to know the technical aspects of seemingly simple tasks, like logo design.
2. Basic coding skills
Apart from being a very relevant and necessary in today’s digital world, a graphic designer needs to know coding basis to understand the full potential of design elements.
To work well with a developer, it’s important to understand their role. This will prevent unecessary back and forth on minor design changes to fix the functionality of a website, etc. Coding languages like HTML and CSS are not difficult to grasp. Coding skills will make you a marketable and well-rounded designer.
3. Wireframing for websites and apps
Do you know how to create a wireframe? If so, it will make your work much easier. Wireframing “primarily allows you to define the information hierarchy of your design, making it easier for you to plan the layout according to how you want your user to process the information.” I will also make it much easier to translate client requirements to your team and uncover important details in design briefs.
4. Marketing and sales skills
If you start a graphic design business you’ll need to attract new clients. Marketing and sales skills are essential, to grow awareness, secure lades and close deals. Even if you hire someone for this task, you’ll need to know the strategy (i.e., the “why”) behind each tactic to avoid wasting money and time. Hone this skill early.
5. Financial acumen
Accounts receivables, payables, payroll, taxes — you will be in charge of all the financial responsibilities of your business at the start. It is important to learn how to manage business finances and learn what financial tools work best. Otherwise, financial mistakes can be costly.
6. Search engine marketing and optimization
You could start cold calling clients, but it’s not advisable. Meanwhile freelance marketplaces aren’t a long-term strategy. You need a sustainable way to gather leads.
For starters, build your business website with lead generation in mind. Then consider online marketing tactics like need pay per click (PPC) advertising to generate new leads. Apart from that, invest time in search engine optimization (SEO) to drive organic traffic to your website.
In a nutshell, simply starting a graphic design business and hoping everything goes well is not a good idea. Unlike a lot of other businesses, running a graphic design company requires a level of technical know how. These six tips will help you ensure your new startup turns into a thriving venture.
This article has been edited.
Abbas Rajani is an Inbound and SEO Strategist at Pac and Copy Plus, a digital marketing agency and a blogger at Visiblup. He has been assisting B2B and B2C businesses with ROI growth and effective online presence. Currently, he is working on a logo design project ‘PNC Logos‘. Connect with @abbas_rajani on Twitter.
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