Growing your Web Design Business


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So you’ve been freelancing for some time now, but you're ready for more? Tactile Design Group’s president Marc Coleman presents a lively discussion of the challenges, risks and rewards of taking on staff, securing financing and landing bigger clients. We’ll explore how to grow organically on a shoestring budget.

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  • Not meant to be a definitive road map, but a retelling of some of the bumps There are lots of aspects of running and sustaining a business, but I’m going to concentrate on making the decision to expand and the first few things you’ll have to do.
  • Tactile Design Group is a full service creative agency specializing in Web design and application development. Our Clients include the US Department of Education, Deloitte, The City of Philadelphia and PGW.
  • A little about me: I've spent a lot of time in the classroom, but I hold no advanced degree. I've had very few traditional jobs. Started in college as a DJ. yes I spun vinyl on the radio and at some pretty cool night clubs in Philly, but I also did weddings and 50th wedding anniversaries.I spent a few years doing property maintenance I did some time owning a Bed and Breakfast. Don't ever do this…The day came when I decided to stop DJing, but I knew I'd needed some creative outlet. Got a taste for graphic design while producing my portfolio at Temple School of Architecture and making 2 color flyers for my nightclub gigs. I'd been doing some posters and logos for the members of the business association my B&B belonged to. So in 2004 faced with a very small list of clients, I took a leap of faith and started Marc Coleman Design. It was just me in my bedroom and my laptop. But the I saw many more opportunities in the web and interactive world. So I taught myself HTML and CSS and did some really crap websites. But I got better. and In 2007, I hired my first employee, signed my first lease and Marc Coleman Design became Tactile Design Group. Today, We have a staff of 10 and are on track to do 1.2 million in sales.
  • When Marc Coleman Design grew into TDG, I went from being a Freelancer to being an EntrepreneurWhat's the difference
  • Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, sell their business. They focus on building something big, lasting, and profitable. They enjoy taking calculated risks and manifest their vision in the form of a business. They are driven to build an asset larger than yourself that thrives without themSpends as much or more time on the business than in the business
  • List of what you’ll need to have in place If you don’t have these things in place, you’re setting yourself up for failure. RESEARCH!
  • Why do you want to do this. If your only goal is to make a lot of money - not the right reason may be several years before turning a profit. Vacations, Holidays most weekends? Uh, yeah no... Your relationship better be strong, supportive spouse or partner. Business becomes Third entity in a relationship Constantly learning and improving your skills. Must be driven to build an asset larger than yourself that thrives without you Vacations, Holidays most weekends? Uh, yeah no... You have to love the work.
  • Business Plan Yes they are a lot of work but NECESSARY Going into the wild without a compass or map, thinking you’ll find shelter somewhere and forage for food along the way Yes they change, process help get a grip on costs. Don’t have to be extensive
  • Apologies for the heavily bullets on the slide Yes this seems daunting but there are plenty of resources Help from SCORE and PTAC. Share other Sources /Templates.
  • Running a web design business takes a lot of different skills.
  • May have seen this chart put out by back in 2008 about how web project team roles interact with each other. pretty much accurate today. Show of hands: who has more than one of these skills? Who has all of these skills?
  • The essential ones to have in house: New Biz Development - Networking essential Client / Account Manager Project Manager Designers Developers everything else, even some of these on occasion can be filled with freelancers and contractors. OFFICE ADMIN
  • Not to be Puppies and Unicorns but... A positive attitude can get you through some pretty dark times.
  • I don’t advocate going straight from school to starting your own agency. You need to have some clients under your belt. Work for a company that will let you Freelance on the side. And the $10,000 question is...How do you get Clients?
  • Yes. put up a kick-ass portfolio site first. You never know when you might meet a potential client or a friend of one. How can you convince a potential client that you’ll make a great site for them if your’s sucks? Target Decide what type of work you want to do: Retail, Non-Profit, Commercial, Government Be Proactive I think the era of the cold call is over Find out where people in your targeted market congregate and collaborate Watch for RFPs Get your face and work out there Be Realistic You are not going to get the Redesign of Phizer in your first year of freelancing. Take the Unglamorous Work Not every job is going to be portfolio worthy. Some times a job is just a job. It took us 6 years to be able to turn down a potential client Network- master the art of the casual conversation 85% of our business for the first 3 years came by referral. People do business with people they like Fine line between professionally persistent and annoying
  • Money - life blood of a business, will die without it Money - life blood of a business, will die without it
  • This is another reason why doing a business plan is key. Even if its just a guess. you have to have a sense of how much money you’ll need. startup, (startup calculator - ) operating Expenses Day to day: Salaries, rent ,INSURANCE line of credit Development Expenses Marketing, Equipment Cash Flow - Pay your taxes before you pay yourself, May take several years to make any money
  • Venture capital Not unless your bringing a completely new platform or program Angel Investors Yeah, good luck with that one... Banks 3 years solid financials - even then, will want guarentees - Skin in game personal funds Joint accounts, Credit Cards, Savings Friends Family and Fools Best bet.
  • After all your research and planning and soul searching, you still want to make the leap. These are the first things you’re going to need to concentrate on.
  • Internal Org Chart Who’s responsible for what and reports to whom Legal Organization Separates your personal assets from your business assets If someone sues you, (INSURANCE) We’re Sole-Proprietor LLC, LLP for partnerships. Most flexibility Register Name with State Necessary if its not your own name. a madeup word deceptively similiar Obtain EIN Your not a business until the feds say you are. Pay your taxes Register with State Payroll and Unemployment Taxes Pay your taxes Register with state and city if you're or local municipality Pay your taxes They will find you. it won’t be pretty. City is slowest but has the worst fines.
  • Hiring In a service based business, your biggest costs are human resources. Your first hires will probably be people you already know. Fleshing out skill sets Understaff -add staff only when necessary to a meet a need. Employee Manual Set Ground Rules Ethics Great templates online, Get advice of Lawyer Firing Last thing you want is Unfair dismissal claim
  • Need vs. Want Starting out - Economize Buy only what you need. Do your really need that gleaming new MacBook Pro with Retina Display when you could you can get two slightly used iMacs for the same investment? You need a place to put your computer and a place to meet with clients Collaborative work environments like Indy Hall in Olde City and new one in the Philadelphia Building Location Can someone describe what the thought when they first walked through the door Portfolio first, but Client’s reaction to space can be a factor Plus, we like coming to work every day Safety Computers cost money, Make sure you building is secure Talk to other tenants about Safety and Landlord
  • That pretty much sums up the focus of today’s talk but I wanted to take a quick second to talk about a high level approach to keeping it going once you’ve got it started.
  • Re-evaluate Plan Regularly. every 6 mo for the first 2 years, then annually. Network Expand your client base Invoice Cash flow, bill as soon as the work is competed or a milestone is reached. Do Good Work Not all will be portfoilo worthy, but if the Client is happy and you get paid, you’ve succeed
  • Growing your Web Design Business

    1. 1. GROWING  YOUR  WEB  BUSINESS: The  Good,  The  Bad  and  the  Money PRESENTATION  BY: Marc  Coleman,  President OCTOBER  11,  2012Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    2. 2. WHO ARE WE?Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    3. 3. HOW DID WE GET HERE?Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    4. 4. FREELANCER VS. ENTREPRENEURTuesday, October 16, 2012
    5. 5. “If you’re a service professional and the only person able to provide the service is you, then you’re a freelancer. The moment you start selling either a product or the services of others, then you’re an entrepreneur.” - Matthew KimberlyTuesday, October 16, 2012
    6. 6. WHAT YOU’LL NEED BEFORE YOU STARTTuesday, October 16, 2012
    7. 7. Drive Direction Skills Clients MoneyTuesday, October 16, 2012
    8. 8. Drive The Why....Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    9. 9. “I don’t like work - but I like what is in work - the chance to find yourself. Your own reality - for yourself not for others - what no other man can ever know” - Joseph ConradTuesday, October 16, 2012
    10. 10. Direction The Roadmap....Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    11. 11. Business Plan Basics • Description of the business, vision, goals, and keys to success • Work force needs • Potential problems and solutions • Financial: capital equipment and supply list, balance sheet, income statement and cash flow analysis, sales and expense forecast • Analysis of competition • Marketing, advertising and promotional activities • Budgeting and managing company growthTuesday, October 16, 2012
    12. 12. Skills Show me what cha workin’ with...Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    13. 13. Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    14. 14. Essential Skills • New Business Development • Client / Account Management • Project Management • Creative Design • Technological Development PROFESSIONAL SERVICES • Lawyer • AccountantTuesday, October 16, 2012
    15. 15. Soft Skills • Flexibility • Patience • Resilience • Ability to Delegate • Thrives on Pressure • Not Defeated by Failure • Willingness to Take Calculated Risks • Positive AttitudeTuesday, October 16, 2012
    16. 16. Clients The New BossesTuesday, October 16, 2012
    17. 17. Getting Clients • Have a Great Portfolio site • Target Niche Industries • Be Proactive • Be Realistic • Take the Unglamorous Work • Network, Network, Network!Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    18. 18. The Lifeblood of Money all businessTuesday, October 16, 2012
    19. 19. Types of Money • Start Up / Initial Investment • Operating Expenses • Development Expenses • Cash FlowTuesday, October 16, 2012
    20. 20. Sources of Money • Venture Capital • Angel Investors • Banks • Personal Funds • Friends, Family and FoolsTuesday, October 16, 2012
    21. 21. FIRST STEPSTuesday, October 16, 2012
    22. 22. Organization Staffing Space & EquipmentTuesday, October 16, 2012
    23. 23. Organization • Internal Organization • Legal Organization • Register Name with State • Obtain Employer ID Number from IRS • Register Business with State • Register Business Local MuncipalityTuesday, October 16, 2012
    24. 24. Staffing • Hiring • Employee Manual • FiringTuesday, October 16, 2012
    25. 25. Space & Equipment • Need vs. Want • Location • SafetyTuesday, October 16, 2012
    26. 26. SUSTAINING IT ALLTuesday, October 16, 2012
    27. 27. Re-evaluate Business Plan NETWORK Do Good Work Invoice Early and Often Lather, Rinse, Repeat...Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    28. 28. QUESTIONS?Tuesday, October 16, 2012
    29. 29. Resources • SCORE - • Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)at Temple -University • The Successful Business Plan - Rhonda Abrhams • The Web Design Business Kit - Peter Willams & Brendon Sinclair • startup calculator - • eContractPhilly • www.indyhall.orgTuesday, October 16, 2012
    30. 30. THANK  YOU!Tuesday, October 16, 2012