Transitioning from being a solopreneur to running an agency is exciting and challenging at the same time. Even though you’re still working on the same projects, and probably even keeping the same clients, you’ll encounter a lot of differences as you make this change. While starting a new web design agency can be tricky, it’s within your grasp. The main thing is to start off on the right foot, so that you won’t have to undo inefficient practices and bad habits later on.
Here are five steps to help you to launch your new web design agency with a bang – and keep the momentum going.
1. Prepare Your Brand Image
One of your biggest challenges is differentiating your web design agency from all the many that already exist. You need to think about your niche market offering or, to put it another way, your unique value proposition. If you try to offer everything, you’ll end up appearing too vague to appeal to clients.
Think about what types of web design services you’ll offer. For example:
- Just prototyping and mockups
- Full-service web design
- Ongoing website maintenance services
- Website redesign or retrofitting
- Converting websites from one platform to another (for example, Wix to WordPress)
- Building specific types of websites, such as lifestyle sites, membership sites, B2B lead capture sites, restaurant sites, or ecommerce sites
Once you know what makes your business unique, it’s time to choose a brand name, logo, and image to match, and to build your own business website.
You want something that sums up your business, stands out in the crowd, and is attractive to the type of clients that you’re seeking. Don’t rush this step – remember that, as a design agency, your clients are going to judge you by your image and your site’s UX.
2. Think About Your Ideal Client
The next step is to formulate a clear image of your ideal client. Consider what type of customer you’ll be aiming for. Do you hope to work for large corporations or small businesses? For B2B or B2C companies? Think about what industries you’d like to serve, too – manufacturing companies, financial institutions, cybersecurity firms, etc. There’s a lot of overlap between knowing your ideal customer and crystallizing your value proposition for niche targeting, so hopefully you’ve already done a lot of thinking about this during the first step, but they are both important phases of the process.
You need to know what your ideal clients look like before you can position yourself to attract them. It’s a good idea to create a client persona (or more than one) as part of this process. HubSpot explains client personas like this:
“A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
Creating a client persona is a critical marketing step for every type of business, including web design. The more detailed your client persona, the better your marketing campaigns will be.
3. Plan to Succeed
You might begin small, but hopefully you’ll quickly expand. Plan big by preparing for the day when you’ll be working on several projects at the same time. When that happens, you’ll need to maximize your existing talent by streamlining your work processes.
It’s inefficient to assign one designer and developer to each project, for example, or to waste time logging in and out of different platforms (prototyping tools, hosting accounts, WordPress admin panels) and checking different channels (email, Slack, Asana, WhatsApp) for communication.
Start as you mean to continue by setting up shop with the tools and mindset of a successful web design agency. Pick a platform like Duda that allows you to expand your business easily, helps you to offer all the services you want, and enables your employees to collaborate smoothly between multiple projects for greater productivity: all-in-one admin dashboards, granular roles and permissions, automated reporting, and shared troves of custom design elements for the win.
4. Build a Talented Team
As a web design agency, you can’t do everything by yourself. Even if you begin that way, soon you’ll need talented designers and developers to work alongside you.
You might want to add other employees with specific skillsets, like a UX designer, microcopy writer, or content writer, so that you can expand the services you provide and target niche clients.
But the emphasis should be on the word “team.” As well as looking for talent, seek personalities that can work well together and collaborate with ease. You need a team of employees who can support each other, not a stable of individual workers.
5. Create a Positive Working Environment
Finally, you’ll face the responsibility of creating a happy, positive working environment. After all, a happy web design agency is a productive web design agency. You’ll need to develop a supportive atmosphere by delivering constructive feedback, providing guidance and training where needed, and looking out for your employees’ needs.
There are many ways to establish a positive working environment, but one of the most important elements is to set the tone for good, clear communication. One study found that poor communication is one of the biggest causes of delayed or incomplete projects, missed performance goals, and sometimes even lost sales worth thousands of dollars.
It’s also up to you to make sure that your employees have all the tools they need, like Duda’s powerful platform for website development and frictionless communication, and good collaboration and project management tools like Podio.
Don’t Settle for ‘Good Enough for Now’
When you’re starting your web design agency, you might be tempted to settle for something that’s “good enough for now,” thinking that you can always change it later when it becomes critical.
In reality, it’s much harder to change your brand image, pivot your market offering, replace bad hires or inefficient tools, or to fix a poisonous atmosphere in your web design agency further down the road than it is to get it right from the beginning. It might take a little more thought and planning in advance, but starting off your web design agency on the right foot will pay dividends for you later on.