Graphic design is in demand. In fact, it’s expected there will be a 13% increase in demand for graphic designers by 2020.
And you don’t necessarily need a four-year degree to become a graphic designer. But if you’re thinking of starting a graphic design business, you do need to know a few things first.
Starting a business isn’t always easy. And it’s not for everyone. However, it can be an extremely profitable and rewarding business.
The more information you have at your disposal when starting a graphic design business, the more quickly you’ll find success. Keep reading to learn 10 tips for starting a graphic design company.
1. Tips for Starting a Graphic Design Company: Assess Your Financial Situation
Eighty-two percent of businesses fail because of a lack of cash flow. Before you open your doors to business, you should assess your current financial situation.
If you are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, starting a full-time graphic design business isn’t a smart idea. If others depend on you to clothe, house, and feed them, it’s also not a good time.
When It’s a Good Time to Take a Risk
There are situations where it makes more financial sense for you to take the risk of starting your own business such as:
If you have savings or another type of income you can depend on while building your business, it’s a good time to take the risk. It’s also a good time if you have another family member who can help cover household expenses.
If you have a full-time or part-time business and have extra time to devote to starting a business on the side. And if you’re already working with clients during your free time and they’re interested in having you take on extra projects.
2. Create a Business Plan
You won’t know how to start a business until you create a business plan. Doing so will help you understand how much money you’ll need to own and operate the business.
You’ll learn how to define your business so that it has the best possible chance of success. You’ll learn whether or not owning a business is even feasible for you right now.
And, if you need to raise capital to help you get started, you’ll also learn how to fill out a loan application or raise equity funding.
3. Determine Your Niche
You can’t be everything to everyone and expect to be successful. Find out what makes you unique and market that.
Capitalize on your strength and skillset. You can always expand on your niche once you’re attracted a reliable client base.
Find a niche that isn’t being overserved in your community. The less competition you have, the more likely it is you’ll find clients quickly.
4. Develop Your Skills
If you feel you’re lacking in certain skills, find out where you can learn new skills. Look for online courses or nearby schools offering courses.
Read as many books on the subject of graphic design that you can. The more knowledge you’re armed with, the more confident you’ll feel and the more value you can add to your clients.
5. Identify Your Target Audience
Not everyone is a perfect client for you. The trick is to learn who those perfect clients are.
Create a list of common traits such as their income level, hobbies, skills, careers, and location. The more you know about your target audience, the easier it is to find them and market successfully to them.
6. Create a Portfolio
People will want to see examples of your work. Create an online portfolio where customers can see those examples and hire you.
There are plenty of website hosting companies where you can set up your own website for nominal fees. While you can use a free hosting site, using one will show potential customers you’re new and unestablished.
If You Don’t Have Existing Examples of Your Work
If you don’t have work to show, try offering your services to a homeowner’s association or local non-profit to get you started. You can also take a continuing education course that lets you design pieces for your portfolio.
Another idea is to create ideas you’ve been inspired to design and use those.
7. Set Your Pricing
It’s often difficult for most people to set their own pricing, especially when starting out. However, if you price your services too low, people will either think you’re not worth it or will take advantage of you.
Price your services too high and you won’t get much business. Taking a look at another design company to find out what they charge for their services can help you set prices that help you earn a livable wage and attract repeat business.
8. Create a Marketing Plan
Marketing is a huge and necessary part of your business. You can’t expect to start a graphic design business and people will flock to you.
Instead, do your research to determine the best places to find your target audience. Set up social media profiles on sites where your target audience is most likely to spend their time.
Consider sending postcards to potential customers. Just make sure you do not go over budget and don’t agree to long-term marketing strategies until they’ve been proven to be effective.
9. Start Networking
Networking is an essential part of your business. There are plenty of ways to begin networking.
You can join a local networking group. Some have fees while others are free.
Look for graphic design associations to join. Network with other graphic designers who aren’t in direct competition with you.
Tell your friends and family and have them help spread the word.
10. Trust Your Instincts
Always trust your instincts. If you feel a client may be more trouble than they’re worth, walk away.
If a marketing company promises you huge results in a short span of time, find another company to work with. Be confident in your decision making.
The more you trust yourself, the more confidence you’ll gain and the fewer mistakes you’ll make.
One of the smartest tips for starting a graphic design company to never lose sight of is to always keep learning. Continue learning how to run a successful business, learn and develop new skills.
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