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Starting up a business

  • # July 29, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Hi guys, its been a while since i posted here. Im the process of starting up a web design company from scratch, and was hoping to get some advice from people who have gone through or are going through this. Princing, invoicing, getting and managing clients, hosting, anything would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Rob
    # July 29, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Hey :) lets have a look at what you started with first…

    Pricing:
    Never under price – be confident in your skill, base your rates on an hourly estimate and work to an hourly rate on smaller jobs. Always customise the payment type for the client, don’t be scared off by hourly rates – always use a contract.

    invoicing:
    keep your records well – I like using Curdbee :)

    getting and managing clients:
    this is down to you – advertising is ok, cold connections are hard to make though as most people have a designer/developer… the best way to do things is word of mouth, networking and through a strong portfolio with a great personality coming through – check out from the couch to see that kind of thing

    hosting:
    never host your clients sites, always refer to a host – you could even work with a host but make sure they know that you have nothing to do with the hosting and that they are not to contact you whenever something goes wrong with the hosting lol :) it gets very tiresome sorting out their password AGAIN because they lost it.

    # July 29, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Thanks very much for you advice, Robski.
    just one query – isnt hosting clients’ websites easy money – a guarnateed monthly income? or is it just not worth the hassle?

    # July 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm
    "chazzwick" wrote:
    Thanks very much for you advice, Robski.
    just one query – isnt hosting clients’ websites easy money – a guarnateed monthly income? or is it just not worth the hassle?

    no, cause they will want compo when your hosting goes down…..
    you are designing a working site, not hosting it.

    have you set up your business legally though?

    advertise, business cards, word of mouth, portfolio thats about it to get business
    hourly rate (i have a collection, lower hourly rate for bigger sites, and higher hourly rates for very small quick sites, I have to make money some how.)
    Never host but suggest hosting, and ask them to pay for it themselves, less hassle & then get them to forward you the FTP details, after all you will be in charge of the site, but remember the site is not the host…

    Rob
    # July 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    yea really – it seems like a good idea to host your clients sites – but its you who gets lumbered with anything that happens, and it does happen. Plus the money isn’t easy, unless you charge them an hourly support rate – you are only really going to get around $5 a month for hosting.

    Really really really just a bad idea lol – I’m still suffering with it lol

    # July 29, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I was about to write up a long-winded post about why you shouldn’t host clients websites, but instead I’ll just say it:

    Your clients are dumb (by dumb I mean they don’t know how everything is working) and you are a great first target for the venting. DON’T HOST CLIENT SITES. At least, unless you can take the anger and respond in a clear headed manner, for which I couldn’t.

    @robski:
    I actually hosted clients in my own home and I will admit that it did come with a pretty good return rate. I would make around $400 per month average. Though, you’ll have no time for yourself if you worked as hard as I did at it.

    Rob
    # July 30, 2009 at 3:45 am
    "Matt" wrote:
    @robski:
    I actually hosted clients in my own home and I will admit that it did come with a pretty good return rate. I would make around $400 per month average. Though, you’ll have no time for yourself if you worked as hard as I did at it.

    you must have been charging decent prices for support lol – I didn’t and I still get crap. hahaha

    # July 30, 2009 at 4:55 am
    "Robskiwarrior" wrote:
    "Matt" wrote:
    @robski:
    I actually hosted clients in my own home and I will admit that it did come with a pretty good return rate. I would make around $400 per month average. Though, you’ll have no time for yourself if you worked as hard as I did at it.

    you must have been charging decent prices for support lol – I didn’t and I still get crap. hahaha

    Support was free, hosting + maintenence was $250 per month + $1500 startup fee (yes, over one grand). Divy that up amongst a few clients and you’ll get quite bit off of it. Personal service, plus in house hardware with software written by the owner fully managed by the owner, I thought it was well within reason to charge premium.

    # July 30, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Charles

    I am just doing the same as you in setting up a business so I can work when Iike and rest when I need to as I have ME.

    Try to get onto some of the Business Link courses as they are free and very good. The Marketing one was very useful and you will normally meet people setting up in business who need a website.

    Good luck.

    Have you got a standard contract that you use yet?

    Justin

    # July 31, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Hi everyone

    thanks again for all your replies

    @justin – ive read through business link’s pages about starting a company, which i recommend to anyone wanting to start a business (http://www.businesslink.gov.uk). I didnt realise they had courses, so i will look into that.

    I havent written a contract yet, im in the process of writing all the documentation, marketing, web copy etc at the moment. If anyone has any advice about that as well, id love to hear it. and once im finished with all this tedious business, ill be happy to reciprocate

    # August 12, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    If your just starting, and you want to keep a low starting fee. Then have you ever use the term bootstrap? There is high probably that you can do well, http://www.bootstrapbusiness.org the site as shown will help you start your business. Give it a try, the information is free, the worst thing you can do is not try.

    # August 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm
    "chazzwick" wrote:
    Thanks very much for you advice, Robski.
    just one query – isnt hosting clients’ websites easy money – a guarnateed monthly income? or is it just not worth the hassle?

    LOL yeah I can’t agree with people more! It’s not easy money, but very hard and irksomely earned money :)

    In my experience, you are better off choosing one or the other. I have friends who started to host and that’s all they do, so they’re livelihood is based on solving little problems here and there so they don’t mind, and they make a decent living. If you love design, you will HATE dealing with hosting headaches.

    I can’t stress enough getting a good invoicing / estimation program like Freshbooks (I haven’t checked out curdbee, but it looks like a REALLY good stripped down version of freshbooks).

    I might suggest freshbooks simply for the time recording functionality. When you first start out, you’ll really want to keep track of how long you spend on a project so you can refine your project estimates. As you get more experience, you’ll find that estimating time will be like second nature and you’ll generally quote from your head and won’t need it any more.

    As for getting solid monthly revenue, I would suggest getting that through service contracts. When a website is built, let’s face it: clients don’t have time to do updates most of the time. Giving them the benefits of charging $25-50 a month for any minor updates will give you a growing base of recurring revenue.

    The last thing I feel strongly about is asking for referral business. Most business owners are happy to provide you with some people if you just say "Hey man, I’m working for myself and my business is based on word of mouth primarily. Do you have anyone you know who is looking for a designer that I might be able to call or you can pass my information to?" You would be surprised how many people are open to that kind of thing.

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