Entering a highly competitive market such as graphic and web design can be challenging, especially in Sydney! To stay on top of day-to-day business activities and keep both your clients and employees happy can be even more of a challenge.
As a start-up, Design by Mouse began in 2009 with no financial or staff support, so I needed to make sure I was doing the right things to get me to where I wanted to be.
Design by Mouse now in 2016 continues to grow and I have a team of talented creatives located around the world, however I still need to make sure that at the end of the day we are taking the steps to develop as a company and stay top of mind to clients.
No matter how crazy business can be, I have always ensured that I keep in mind and carry out these six simple steps to start-up success:
1. Get good suppliers on board
There’s nothing worse than having unreliable suppliers. If it’s the difference between cutting costs and delivering prompt, high quality work to your clients, I choose the work every time.
Finding suppliers who are reliable, present work at a high standard, and always get back to me as soon as possible, has helped me not only get work back to clients faster but be more effective with my staff’s time.
If you can have people supporting your business like it’s their own, then both your businesses will grow.
2. Pay your suppliers on time
Payment is key to stay in the good books of your suppliers, but what people forget is that loyalty is a two-way street. Paying my suppliers on time or even ahead of time means that my supplier will always be there for last minute, important favours when I need it.
For example, my print suppliers, I could not function without! A client called me up close to close of business with an urgent print job, normally print companies need a 24 hour notice period at least, however my supplier didn’t even hesitate to help, and, as a result of this I knew I could always count on him and gave him more business.
Loyalty is a two-way street, pay suppliers on time!
3. Get deposits for new clients
As great as good will is, it can only get you so far, and, at the end of the day you are running a business and need to make sure that you can pay your expenses too.
I always get an upfront deposit from my clients and collect the remainder when the work is completed and the client and myself are both happy. This ensures that you get paid before you spend time, money, and resources on their project.
You never know who you are dealing with so always make sure your deposit covers your time.
4. Display your work/product clearly and concisely
The world is not slowing down. In fact, it’s speeding up, and people are increasingly becoming more and more time poor. They want to click on your website and know what you do and how you can help them in a fast manner.
For example, on my website I don’t use buzz words, I simply spell it out for these people. Another handy tool is displaying your work for the public to see. If potential clients have to email you to ask for examples of your work it slows down the process and will put people off who want a fast turn around time.
5. Stay connected
Communication is key! Make sure your clients have updates constantly. There is nothing worse than sending an email and not hearing back.
People will move on to the next potential supplier. If you reply (even if you are busy) with an email saying you have received the email and will reply later, it reassures the potential client and puts a sense of security around the client and job.
All of my staff at Design by Mouse aim to reply to emails as soon as possible, so if you receive an email from me at 3am don’t be surprised!
6. Treat your employees well
Last but definitely not least, treat your employees well. I cannot stress this step enough. I give all my employees bonuses where deserved.
My business wouldn’t be running or growing as well as it is without my amazing team behind me working late into the night and being available all the time.
Whenever I have to question a task I always think of what I’d want to get out of the company if you were an employee not an employer and if I wouldn’t want to do it, I don’t ask my employees to.
It’s hard to find people that fit exactly what you need so when you find them, keep them and treat them well.
Millie Cooper is founder and managing director of Design by Mouse. Cooper started her business when she was only 20 years of age. Making their mark in the creative industry in 2009, Design by Mouse is now 7 years strong and one of Sydney’s top full-service creative businesses.