I’m sure by now you have been seeing a lot of the ‘goal’, ‘resolution’, and similarly themed blog posts that have been floating around the blogosphere. If you own a small business or even a blog, you are probably doing some planning of your own right about now. Today, I’d like to take some time to share with you my business road map for 2013 as well as some of the tools I’m using to help me along the way.
New Year’s Day has come and gone, but I’m still working on my business plan and workbook for the year. I was looking for a planner or workbook for 2013, and I ended up purchasing the ‘Create Your Incredible Year’ set from Leonie Dawson. I am loving it so far! Although 2012 was my best year to date on paper (and I was very lucky, since this was the year that I completely phased out my paper studio), I’ve realized that there are some things that I’d like to change and make better. I have to constantly remind myself that growing a business is a learning process, and that it takes a lot of trial and error. Even though I’ve been in business as Viva la Violette since 2008, my web design business is still a baby- at a little over just one year old. While many aspects of my business aren’t exactly new to me, some things still are.
Graphic Designer vs. Web Designer
To be exact, working as a graphic designer in my paper studio meant a couple of things. First off, it meant that most of my customers and projects were one time customers. My largest selling product was an Alice in Wonderland invitation set, so you can probably see why this would be a one-time thing. Secondly, I was used to starting, finishing, and shipping out an order in one-two weeks or less. (And there were times when I had 30-40 open orders at a time.)
In my web design business, the relationships are stronger because there is so much more communication during a custom wordpress design compared to an invitation design. I also do a lot of repeat business now, and I’ve learned to love and appreciate these repeat clients. (Think custom graphics, add-ons, plugin installations, or coordinating social media headers/covers/backgrounds.) I’ve thoroughly appreciated getting to know who I’m working with, compared to just filling an order for someone I know nothing about. It makes what I do not only more enjoyable, but more personal too. Whether it’s a common love of glitter, homeschooling, video games, or DIYing, I now look forward to making these connections with my web design clients.
Customers vs Clients
You may be asking why I refer to my paper studio sales as ‘customers’, and my web design as ‘clients’. The answer is that the nature of the relationships have changed, so to me they are two very different labels. While I understand that this may not pertain to every business, it clearly draws the line in mine.
What I’ve learned since I’ve transitioned into my web design business is that clients matter. Not only are they the driving force of my business, but I now know that it’s much more beneficial to me (and to the project) if I develop a stronger relationship with each client. Following many design/web design circles over various social media outlets- I’ve noticed that many of these designers paint the client as the enemy, or as the problem. The first page of the book Client Centric Web Design states that ‘IE’ (Internet Expolorer) and ‘Clients’ are the top two answers from web designers when asked about the biggest problems with their business. I had to laugh a little, mostly b/c I agree with the IE problem, but also because client issues are certainly a hot topic in most of my private web design groups. I’m hoping that more designers will start seeing clients as the friend, not the enemy.
2013 is when I want to make a difference. I’m striving to have better services for my clients, along with some amazing swag for them (more on this later) at the end of our design time together. I want them to feel like they can come back to me in the future for other design ideas or projects. I want to make them so happy that in turn they will be the cheerleaders for my business. And mostly, I want to maintain an ongoing relationship with them once the project is complete.
Overall Goals for 2013
- Show Client Appreciation
- Create new Genesis Themes
- Further my education by attending a wordpress/web design conference
- Create a community with Google+
- Build and maintain business relationships, especially within the Genesis community
- Attract more clients who have the same design style/interest as my own