Building a design agency starts well before you decide on a name for your company or design a website. I know, those are the fun things! And we’ll get to them in another post.
First, let’s talk about where you should start. . .
Your journey to creating a lasting and sustainable business starts with some basic questions:
1. WHY do you want to build an agency? WHY do you do what you do?
If your motivation is money, think again. While you *can* build a business for the money, people – your customers – will know. It will show. And instead of making the money you desire, you will struggle. You’ll have unhappy clients.
Instead, let passion drive you. Let your passion for creating beautiful design drive you. Let your passion for helping your clients achieve their goals with beautiful design drive you.
2. WHO do you serve? Will you have a specific niche?
Now, there’s some debate over this. Many (many) experts will tell you to niche down. The reasons, they say, are because if you don’t get super focused on who your customer is, your message won’t reach the right clients.
I don’t advocate this.
When you’re just starting out, what you need most is experience. That’s reason number one.
Reason number two is that you don’t often know who you really want to work with this early in the game. You might think you know, but chances are, there’s a wonderful niche just for you that you know nothing of right now.
Your best bet is to do as many types of projects, in a variety of industries, as you can. That’s not to say you should accept every single job that comes your way.
Rather, at this stage, don’t limit yourself. Leave the ‘niche’ for later. Gain some experience is operating an agency and doing your best work instead. The niche will come.
3. What else should you consider?
Here are some additional questions to ask at this stage:
- What services will you offer?
- Where will your agency be located?
- Will you hire contractors or employees?
- And if you do, will they work remotely or on-location?
4. Find a mentor.
Hiring a mentor is an invaluable tool for any business owner. Mentors are great sounding boards and can support you through tough decisions. Having someone in your corner who not only understands business, but also understands entrepreneurship, is one of the best ways to help yourself start off on the right foot.
Laying the foundation of your agency is supreme. If it’s not built on a solid foundation that is well thought-out, evaluated, valued, and sustainable, you will fail.
And while failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is harder to rebuild – especially if your failure caused you to become out of integrity or caused serious problems for your clients.
In the next installment of Build a Design Agency, we’ll talk about business planning, pricing, and choosing your creative structure.