Do you have any business tips you wish you knew when you started out?

almost 7 years ago from Ivan Bjelajac, Co-Founder @ Bien /

  • Sam Bible, almost 7 years ago

    Wish I'd asked this starting out; would have made my life easier.

    Contracts have been mentioned. I didn't think I needed them because I didn't want to deal with legal stuff. But they are important because they convey a sense of professionalism that puts your clients at ease, not just for legal protection. Let's face it, if you're small you probably couldn't afford to go to court anyway, but having a common sense foundation for a relationship still makes good business sense.

    Not sure where you're coming from, but as a freelancer I eventually ended up modifying this contract to the shortest version I could that made both me and my clients feel comfortable. One thing I did was specify that copyright ownership transferred to my clients only upon receipt of the final payment. This made me happy because I almost always got payed promptly after that, and made my clients happy because it removed ambiguity and allowed them to feel in control.

    Probably the biggest mistake I made starting out was thinking of myself as a designer, not a business owner. When you are self-employed, you are also marketing, sales, accounting, and support, so you have to learn to enjoy developing the business. If you can't, it's going to be tough to find the motivation to keep it going over the long haul. Being a great designer alone is not enough. You have to:

    1. Do great work.
    2. Tell the story of what makes your work good. (Don't take it for granted that people will automatically get it. This is not about a slick sales pitch; it's about explaining what quality work means to you and how you get there, in terms somebody who's not a designer can appreciate.)
    3. Make sure the right audience hears that story.
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