Since you’re a talented web designer, you know some of the repercussions when you make a mistake in design. The users are unsatisfied, and it’s back to the drawing board.

This is undeniably discouraging, but given your expertise, you know how to fix the problems.  When it comes to running the business, things might not be so black and white.

Unless you’ve studied business administration in school, the process of starting and running a successful web design operation may be new territory for you. Along with researching best practices, you’ll surely want to avoid these common mistakes.

1. Turning Off the Sales Factor

If you don’t like doing sales, you’ll inevitably struggle with your web design company because you won’t get clients if you don’t know how to sell them. This is, hands down, the most vital skill you can learn in the services-based marketplace.

You can always invest in sales courses that focus specifically on online services, but there are plenty of free resources that will teach you how to sell. Usually, the best approach entails honesty, transparency, and authenticity.

You can establish yourself with existing clients as well as via your social media presence. All the content you put out there should supply value to your customers. It shows that what you’re doing is worth their while, and is genuinely offered to help people.

2. Avoiding Relationships with Clients

Many web designers prefer to take a non-personalized approach to doing business. They complete the work without sharing pleasantries, and every email is coolly professional.

Basic professionalism is always a good idea in business but not being cold and distant. You don’t need to share a lot about your personal life, but showing a little personal warmth with clients can help you build relationships that lead to long-term loyalty.

In addition, try to validate the client’s wishes and tastes. Someone might ask for a service or task that won’t work, but rather than shut the person down immediately, validate his or her interests and come up with an alternative before explaining why their notion may be unworkable.

This is a great way to let customers down gently and continue to strengthen your relationship with them.

3. Going Brandless

In the beginning, you’re the face and sole employee of the company. That makes you the brand, so you need to emphasize that brand to spread the reach of your new operation.

Establishing a brand entails defining your personality and niche in the industry. You might offer a specific type of website or devise a clever catch-phrase to snag people’s attention.

You could also use social media to spread awareness of your brand, promote specials, talk about what you’re doing on a given day, and build a natural following. It doesn’t matter how you build your brand, what you stand for, and which clients you attract. It does matter that you do it, somehow.

4. Being the Same as Everyone Else

It’s certainly useful to monitor the actions and errors of your competitors. You can learn a lot from their marketing strategies, as well, but don’t try to copy them.

There are hundreds of thousands of freelance web designers and startup owners just like you. They’re all trying to expand their business and establish their market.

If you use the same promotional tactics, design styles, and business structure as everyone else, you’ll just melt into the crowd. You want to show you’re different in unique ways when you share your business and unique web designs to bring in a more diverse audience.

You can still do popular, standard-design sites, but you’ll gain greater attention by stepping out of your comfort zone and seeking to excel.

5. Not Focusing on Growth

You might go into your web design business thinking, “I only want to make enough money to support myself.” On the surface, this seems like a reasonable approach.

But you shouldn’t limit yourself so quickly. If you’re doing business just to support yourself, it will be more difficult for others to get to know you; you’ll also be doing all the work by yourself, which increases your odds of burning out.

If you focus on augmenting your design business by bringing in employees and marketing your services to a wider audience, you just might someday earn the right to sit back, relax, and enjoy a largely passive income stream as a business owner rather than as a workhorse.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.