Starting and running a design business can be tough. It’ll be 7 years in March since we started this small business and while I’m still learning, I love sharing what I’ve picked up along the way that could help other creatives.
I wrote a post last week answering the website questions I’m asked the most. I get asked a bunch of questions about my business as well so let’s go over the answers now.
How do you partner with other business when you work with clients?
We’re always working to improve our partnerships but since launching them in 2018. With more business owners specializing in the services they are the most skilled at, building a team to best serve your clients is a must. The one-stop-shop is not always beneficial for every client’s needs. And we view building a team for our clients as an asset to ensuring their results are exceptional.
Our most common teams include a brand designer!
While I have a unique relationship with each partner, there are 3 ways I stay consistent with each brand designer in particular to benefit our mutual clients to the best of my ability.
- I base my project dates on the designer’s timeline. To avoid overwhelming the client with needing to be invested in their brand but then also needing to provide content, imagery, etc. for their site, I try to schedule my phase of their project 1-2 weeks after the brand is meant to wrap up. This creates a seamless transition.
- I speak with the brand designer when the brand handover occurs. We have a quick meeting, going over the brand and intention behind the business’ message so that the clients feel minimal stress and the designer and I can discuss all the nitty gritty that we love talking about anyway!
- We book the client separately. It’s a lot like an event. You don’t hire the planner and then you don’t book the vendors. We’re like the planner of your relaunch. We help build a team of vendors to execute their expertise flawlessly. This also allows even more creatives joining the project (like copywriters, photographers, stylists, etc.) to easily be booked so we can all come together to serve the client best.
Websites have a lot of moving parts, how do you and your clients stay organized?
We use Asana to stay on track with not only clients but with all the to-do lists we need to run our business. Myself and our clients benefit from having a clear timeline laid out, with both of our tasks for the project mapped out ahead of us.
We’re able to directly comment on tasks to keep communication all in one place that is searchable. I’m also able to easily assign myself and clients tasks and due dates so we stay on top of the timeline without feeling overwhelmed or lost throughout. Knowing when our launch by date is also helps a ton!
How do you include set start and end dates in your projects?
Each project I book has a start date and a timeline that allows the client and I to work together to get their website completed by their strict project end date. We launch client’s new sites by a certain date, set out when they book before we even begin. But how do we stick to these dates?
First, I add buffer time to the weeks we work together. With my chronic illness, it’s essential to have some wiggle room but I also want that same freedom for my clients. If there is an emergency or a reason for a delay, so long as many don’t pile up, we stay on track while allowing some grace.
Second, by using Asana, we have a preview of the entire project. By assigning tasks to clients and giving them due dates along the way, I’m able to guide them through the process and keep us both on track.
What app do you use for paperwork and bookkeeping?
I use and absolutely love HoneyBook. I started using it in 2017 after having been in business for about 3 years and using other systems. Since then, they have improved the app more and more and it’s now multi-industry friendly and has more features than ever before.
HoneyBook keeps all of the paperwork between my clients and I in one, easy to reference space. I love the reports they create so I can see at a glance where my inquiries are coming from and how much I’ve made this year. It keeps me motivated and I can focus my marketing in areas that give me the best return on my investment.
If you’re curious and want to check out HoneyBook, I’d love to offer you 50% off of your subscription (that’s a savings of $200!) once you’ve tried it for free! I am an affiliate and educator, but have been for years now because I believe that much in their company. I personally saw my bookings go up within the first month, simply because of how easy they make it for potential clients to book and pay me. Try it out!
How did you come up with your systems?
It’s been a years long process to figure out what systems work best for my business. There was a ton of trial and error but things really started to click when I learned more about myself. And I don’t mean just what I like and dislike.
I first took the Myers Briggs personality test (take it here) and found out I was an INFJ-T. To say that it nailed my personality is an understatement. It was so insightful to learn about my strengths and weaknesses. I also learned a lot about my natural reaction to difficult situations. This was a game changer. Emotion drives me a lot more than I’d like to admit. But understanding how I could combat that, by setting boundaries and creating clear systems and process, meant I could flourish within my business.
Last year I also took the Enneagram test (take it here). I learned even more about how I best flourish and where I struggle. I’m a 9 and my desires and fears were spot on. Enneagram also tells you what you look like at your best and at your worst.
Looking within and working to understand myself has led to a process that works super well for me. My ideal clients also love my process. The additional guidance and support I provide throughout helps them to stay focused and a lot less stressed. I highly suggest taking these tests. They work so well together to give you a better understanding of who you are.
Have any other questions you need answered, let me know!