It’s a wild ride starting a design business - so many i’s to dot and t’s to cross, with so little guidance. If you’re nodding your head right now, I hear you - and I’ve been in your shoes. When I first started my business, I really could’ve used a guidebook to stop me from making some major mistakes. Thankfully, my business survived, and I took the necessary steps to ensure I wouldn’t repeat those same mistakes twice! Lucky for you, I’m breaking down the most common mistakes designers make so you can avoid them.
Mistake #1: You’re not using a contract
I highly recommend you read our blog post about contracts here. Why? Because even if you’re working with your own sister, you NEED to have a contract in place. You might not think you need one, but trust me, you do. In fact, some of the worst situations I’ve ever experienced as a business owner results from NOT having a solid contract in place.
I’m talking about situations like:
Working on a single brand for over a YEAR before getting paid
Getting stuck working on 12 revisions for one client
Wrapping up a 10-page website just for the client to decide to switch platforms at the last second
Getting scammed out of $10K
Contracts protect you from missed payments, scope creep, endless revisions, and even dreaded legal messes. Not just any contract with do though. You want a contract that is written specifically for designers, so you can be sure that you’re covered for all of those unique situations we get into as designers.
Mistake #2: You’re doing it all yourself
Listen, I know when you start out, it’s easy to feel like you have to take on everything by yourself (for financial reasons). However, if you’re not careful, you can end up cutting corners and eventually burning out.
Let me break this down: outsourcing allows you to actually do MORE with your valuable time. It allows you to grow your business strategically by using your time to take better care of clients, plan future launches, and plan passive income opportunities.
While in the short term, doing it all yourself may save money, the threat of burning out is too great for a couple extra bucks in your bank account.
This is a hard truth for designers: you don’t have to waste hours designing everything by yourself for your business. Yep, even as a designer! There are high-converting business templates available where you can simply plug-and-play. Talk about efficiency!
Mistake #3: You’re not giving your clients an A+ experience
A big reason why your clients want to work with you is for the experience! If you’re not giving them a professional experience - from onboarding to design to revisions to final delivery - chances are they’ll be disappointed. Your clients are investing in a service from you, and they’ll want to feel taken care of.
A game changer you can implement is creating a client project board so they don’t have to go back-and-forth with you over email. In addition, take the time to present your designs in a mockup presentation for your clients so they can better visualize the brand in real life. Last, give them clear directions for feedback so they know how to describe what they want.
After years of learning how to run a successful design business, and helping other designers start and scale their businesses in Dream Big Designer, I saw how many designers struggled with what to include in your proposals, contracts, and design docs. And I want to give you the EXACT templates we use at Quixotic that have gotten our clients amazing results: the Brand Designer Toolkit.
Here’s what you’ll get in the Brand Designer Toolkit:
You’ll have the tools you need to convert leads to clients with a high-converting proposal and contract template
You’ll finally be able to reduce pesky revisions with our signature strategy questionnaire, brand presentation template, and clarity-filled feedback form
You’ll have all of the docs you need to elevate your design process with plug-and-play templates
You’ll have the confidence to keep on track!
You’ll get access to ALL of the proprietary templates we use with our clients. Templates that are already designed for you, that you can customize easily, and cover all of the bases (because I’ve been in your shoes, and I know exactly what your design business needs to thrive).
Here’s what you’ll get included with your toolkit:
High-converting pitch templates:
1 Pricing Guide template
1 Proposal template
1 Contract template (written specifically for designers by our own attorney, Taylor Tieman)
Value-packed client process templates:
1 Client Onboarding Deck template
1 Client Questionnaire template
1 Client Direction template
Expert-level delivery templates:
1 Client Brand Presentation template
1 Client Feedback form
1 Brand Identity Guidelines template
I’m SO excited to be opening the cart for the Brand Designer Toolkit: the ultimate collection for streamlining your design business. This toolkit is where you’ll get access to every template your design business will ever need.
Grab your Brand Designer Toolkit here.
Cheers to a streamlined biz!