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The Little Things That Can Make A Big Difference To The Success Of Your Business

Are you adamant that your business is going to be a success? If you are, you’re not alone. Each week, thousands of new companies launch, with each new business owner sure that their brand will be the next big thing. Business is all about understanding what’s important and what isn’t. The problem is that there are a lot of ‘small’ things that many entrepreneurs dismiss as being unimportant. When actually, they can have a big impact on the success of your brand. To give you an idea of what these are, below is a list of some of the little things that can make a big difference when it comes to how successful you are.

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Image Credit: Flickr

Your company website

Everyone knows that a website is one of the most crucial tools for a business. What not all entrepreneurs are aware of, however, is how important the design and layout of the site is. If a website runs slowly, is confusing, and is complex to use, it puts people off. If this is the case, you’ll lose customers to companies with easy-to-use sites. That’s why it’s so important to get your company website right. Before you launch it, get some outside opinions on your site and how it works. Take note of any feedback to ensure that your website is as effective and easy-to-use as possible.

The payment processes in place

If the payment processes that you have in place in store and online are complex, again it will put people off. You need to ensure that not only are your payment processes simple but also that they are inclusive. For instance, PayPal has become a popular payment method, so it pays to have this as an option on your website. You could even offer it in store, all you’ll need is a PayPal card reader. These are a fantastic tool to have, especially as they can be used anywhere. So whether payment is being made in-store or while at a business meeting, it’s quick and simple. Many startups avoid allowing payment made via credit cards because of the added cost that comes with it. However, by investing in credit card processing, your company can accept payments from any card. This will increase your chances of success, so it’s something that’s more than worth doing.

How you reward your customers

Many businesses don’t even consider rewarding their customers when they first launch. However, although a small thing, rewarding customers means that they’re twice as likely to buy from you or use your services again. So offering a reward scheme for your customers is definitely something that’s worth considering. The best reward schemes are the ones that encourage clients to keep coming back. Such as the ones that give money-off coupons and custom-made deals and discounts, and so on.

So there you have it, a guide to the little things that can make a big difference to the success of your business. If you want to ensure that your business has the best chance of becoming a prosperous brand, take note of the tips and suggestions above.

5 Ways to Successfully Work with the Client Who’s Always Right

Is the client always right? No one is ever 100% right 100% of the time is the popular expression. As a graphic designer, you’ll work with all sorts of clients; from those who respect your work and your process, to those on the other end of the spectrum. For the clients who are extremely difficult to work with, who go against all your professional guidance on a specific task (let’s say a logo design), don’t get frustrated or overwhelmed.

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Now back to the topical question at hand – Is the client always right? The answer is both “yes” and “no”. Let me explain further – even when your client or clients have given you the required feedback on that logo design that’s moving it in a direction that you don’t agree with, they’re still right. After all, they’re paying you to provide them with your professional services.

On the flip-side, the fact that they sometimes lack the design sense to understand how all the design elements (colours, typeface, images, etc.) help to achieve the overall balance makes them “wrong”. I know what you’re thinking, “Why do clients hire graphic designers if they’re not prepared to listen to any of our advice?” Don’t take it personally; it’s just business.

Here are five (5) ways to ensure that your next client and design project goes well.

Understand your client’s needs

In order to have a successful design project, you must ensure that you demonstrate to your client that you understand their rough ideas, goals, audience, and vision. You must also show that you have the skill sets to bring that vision to life. Collaboration between the designer and the client must be promoted from the beginning.

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Build mutual respect and trust

It will be important that after you’ve done your initial client interview that you start to develop the foundation for a smooth work relationship. You’ll accomplish this by being the consummate professional who outlines your design process, establishes and agrees upon deadlines. Consistent communication through telephone conversations, meetings, or emails (combination of all the aforementioned) will eliminate the occurrence of the “angry mob” mentality.

Do the job you were hired to do

Always remind yourself that this is your client’s project, not yours. They hired you, not the other way around. If disagreements arise when it comes down to your ideas and concepts, don’t take it personally if they don’t share your enthusiasm. It comes with the territory.  Your early ideas are always going to be either a hit or miss. Just focus on fine-tuning them based on your client’s feedback.

Daniel Craig - New James Bond movie Casino Royale

The client wants what the client wants

You won’t always be given free rein on a design project, which sometimes isn’t a bad thing, especially with difficult clients. In the instances where they’ve completely ignored your advice, ideas, and visions that you believe will deliver them the results they want, well that’s on them. Just be mindful of the fact that their taste might not be the same as yours. Additionally, respect the fact that they have a good grasp on their audience and market and will know which designs work when they see it.

Find your doppelgänger client

The most important thing is to figure out the clients that you enjoy collaborating with and trying to find more people who fit that profile. It’ll make your job a little easier. This is why you should always have a client interview. Ask pertinent questions about their design likes and dislikes and getting to understand the potential design project. However, don’t spend majority of your time focused on those details. Get to know your potential client better as a person.

Always take solace in the fact that you did your job as the designer, in striving to give them the best product and best advice possible. Good luck.

3 Tips to Improve Your Performance as a Freelance Graphic Designer

In my 12 years freelancing as a graphic designer (can’t believe it’s been that long), I’ve walked away with some very invaluable lessons.

I started this blog a little over three years ago to help share what I’d learned with others in hopes that my knowledge and experience could help make your journey a little easier. I continue to divulge what I’ve acquired from every design project I’ve been hired for and even those that crashed and burned mid-project when bad clients became indecisive. The most important lessons have been avoiding getting burned by clients and how not to work for “cheap”.

It’s a competitive world and we can all use any advantage we can get to stay on par with or ahead of the industry competition. Here are my three (3) tips (including a bonus tip) for all you freelance graphic designers out there.

Price your work correctly

Understanding the value of your own work is the difference between working by the hour and working for what your worth. Personally, the best approach that facilitates a win-win scenario for both you and your clients is examining “value-based” pricing. There are different approaches to arriving at the value of your next design project, but consider this method. If your client(s) share the projected revenue they hope to earn from your work, you can charge 10% of projected revenue.

I didn't have a photo of myself working so I used this random person instead

I didn’t have a photo of myself working so I used this random person instead

Finish a design right on schedule

Time is money. There’s never been a quote more accurate than that one. In just three words, that one quote communicates the importance of meeting your client’s deadlines. In order to build a steady reputation as the talented professional freelancer, you want to ensure that you achieve all your deliverables as outlined in your client interviews. If you’re not accustomed to having client interviews, take it from me, you should have them and as many of them as possible. Also, keep a personal time log (“Microsoft Excel” works fine), making sure to record minutes, hours, and days spent per design project. It’s a great way to know the projects you can take on or decline at any given moment based on the prospective client’s anticipated turnaround time.

There's no one template design for a time log, just create one that works for you

There’s no one template design for a time log, just create one that works for you

Get paid

I cannot stress this enough, not only to freelance graphic designers, but to anyone else who works for themselves whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur or not. It’s imperative that you get compensated for all your hard work over the last eight or 10 hours or the last eight or 10 days. Your client would expect the same if the situation was reversed. So here’s my best recommendation, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the client. Always ask for a “retainer fee” and the amount is left up to your own discretion, not your client’s. I personally would suggest no less than fifty percent (50%) of the total quotation that way, you and your client are invested in the outcome of the design project.

If you watched

If you watched “Breaking Bad”, you’ll get the importance of being paid

Get paid on time

Once your client has been presented with the designs (add your watermark) and all revisions are completed, at the end of the process have them pay you the remaining fifty percent (50%) based on your invoice. So in case you missed that, always send them a quotation for the work ahead and an invoice after the work is finished. Before I forget, outline in your invoice (towards the top) when they should settle with you. I use either seven (7) business days or 14 business days depending on the cost of the design.

I hope you found the above tips helpful and I wish you only the best in your own journey as a graphic designer. Feel free to stop by my blog anytime. I’ll have more tips to share going forward.

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