The start of a new year is a great time for freelance web designers to launch a business review. It’s an opportunity to take a look at where you’ve been, where you are and where you want to go.
So often, this type of activity gets pushed aside while we tackle more immediate issues. While this is understandable, it can also potentially put your business in a bad position. As weeks turn to months, and months to years, you might find that things just aren’t heading in the right direction.
No more delays! It’s time to take some action. Here are five simple things you can do to make sure your freelance design business will hit the ground running in the new year.
1. Look at the Numbers
One of the simplest ways to get a sense of your business is to review your numbers from the past few years. From there, it’s about looking for trends.
The first number to look at is revenue. Of course, we’d all like to see it rise over time. The upward trajectory is an indicator that you’re doing well.
Realistically, however, you at least want to see that things are holding fairly steady from year to year. You should be able to predict a revenue range with some certainty.
If things are trending downward, or taking a rollercoaster ride, think about the reasons for this. Maybe you had a temporary gig that gave you a boost one year. Or perhaps you lost a few clients. Whatever it is, the key is to understand what happened and think of ways to get things moving upward again.
How much are you spending to run your web design business? Costs like internet access, software and web hosting all affect your bottom line. These types of expenses have a way of slipping through the cracks. Therefore, it’s important to know what you’re buying and why you’re buying it.
Business needs tend to change over time. That service you’ve been paying for the past few years may have become unnecessary by now. Taking the time to find this out could save you some hard-earned cash.
2. Review Your Workflow
The way you’ve worked in years past may have served you well. Still, there’s always room for improvement. Streamlining your workflow can increase productivity, allowing you to get more done in less time.
This is also a great way to expand your horizons. Trying out new tools or maybe even learning a new skill will help you stay current with industry trends.
The biggest challenge may be in figuring out what you should change. First, think about the pain points in your daily work. What’s getting in your way? Determine this and you can start brainstorming. There might just be something out there that will help things run more smoothly.
When it comes to learning new skills or boosting your existing ones, consider the type of projects you typically work on. What would help you deliver better results? Is there a particular feature or service you’d like to provide your clients? Focus on learning things that will make you better at your job and enable you to grow.
3. Revisit Your Portfolio
Having your own portfolio website is a great way to show potential clients what you’re capable of. But if you’re not careful, it can become outdated over time.
For example, there may be older projects listed that aren’t really relevant to what you’re doing now. If you aren’t working with a particular tool (let’s say Drupal) anymore – then do you really want to showcase websites you’ve built with the CMS?
The same goes for different industries or even price ranges. If you no longer do cheap brochure sites, you’ll probably want to remove any past ones from your project listings.
The beginning of the year is a great time to sift through past projects to figure out what should stay and what should go. In addition, there may be some newer items missing that can be added in.
4. Tie up the Loose Ends
Inevitably, it seems like we always start the new year off with leftovers from the one before. They could be little maintenance-related tasks for our clients or perhaps that new design that never seems to get launched.
When the calendar flips to January, it’s a perfect opportunity to tackle this unfinished business. Comb through your to-do list or inbox and find the items that are still waiting to be resolved.
If it’s a task you can do by yourself, then by all means get it done. If it requires a client’s involvement, you might have to gently nudge them to move forward. Regardless, taking action will help you break free from the projects that are holding you back.
5. Set Some Goals
What would you like to accomplish in the new year? Now is the time to think about it and create a plan.
The neat thing about being a web designer is that, when it comes to goals, you have a variety of things to choose from. It could be related to learning a new programming language or experimenting with different design techniques. Maybe you want to explore a new technology, like variable fonts.
Goals can also be related to your business. Achievements such as increasing revenue or expanding your list of clients are always worthy pursuits.
Whatever you choose, it’s usually best to keep your goals realistic. Small, achievable items are ideal. They are something you’ll be able to check off of your list and will provide a sense of accomplishment.
It’s great to dream big, but failing to reach that distant star in the sky can also lead to disappointment. Therefore, it’s best to keep it real.
Start the New Year Right
People tend to get optimistic around the start of a new year – and it’s easy to see why. You get to start off with a clean slate and a chance to make some positive changes.
While this certainly applies to our personal lives, it’s just as relevant to our businesses. It just takes a little elbow grease to find out where we should focus.
By taking a little time with each of the steps above, you’ll lay a solid foundation for the year to come.
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