Web design is a profitable business. The cost of a high-quality website can be anywhere between $2-10k, depending on the developer’s skills and experience. If you’ve got the experience and expertise, you’ve got half the equation covered. The second half is funding.
If you don’t have good credit, can’t get a large enough loan, and investors aren’t willing to give you startup capital, it will be challenging to start your business. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
When traditional funding options aren’t on the table, here’s how to bootstrap your website design business:
1. Consistently work on improving your personal credit
Most people bootstrap their business with their savings or a personal loan. If you’ve got bad credit or no credit, start building or repairing it today. If you’re serious about launching your business, you’ll need good credit in the future.
With effort, in time, your personal credit will improve, which will allow you to take out loans and obtain other sources of funding for your business.
Start by getting a copy of your credit report from an approved source; you’re entitled to receive a free report from each of the main bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once every twelve months. Verify that all items belong to you, and dispute any items that don’t. If you notice debts you’ve already paid off, contact them and request they be removed from your credit report.
Finally, start paying back your unresolved debt. There will be a contact number next to each debt. Call and ask if there’s a deal being offered on your account. If the debt is in collections, they’ll likely close your account with a single payment of at least 70% of the debt you owe.
2. Be prepared to learn big lessons
Don’t let uncertainty and the fear of making mistakes prevent you from bootstrapping your web design business. The truth is, you’re going to make mistakes and run into more roadblocks than other entrepreneurs with extensive capital.
Running a low-capital business isn’t easy. You’re going to experience plenty of difficulties. For instance, Incfile explains that the biggest issue you’ll deal with is cash flow shortage. You’ll need to be strict with minimizing your expenses, and managing your finances daily isn’t optional.
On the positive side, running a business with low cash flow is an opportunity to learn big lessons in being resourceful. For example, corporations with infinite cash flow might think nothing about sending their executive teams to expensive yearly conferences that don’t seem to bear any fruit. The team gets paid either way, and there’s no pressure compelling them to maximize their presence.
You, on the other hand, will be selective regarding which conferences you attend, and will make every effort to ensure your experience is worthwhile. You’ll probably learn tricks for getting into networking events like Digital Hollywood and Tech Crunch Disrupt for free – like volunteering and visiting panels on a rotation with the other volunteers.
3. Avoid offering discounts when you’re getting started
Offering discounts to get clients is a bad idea. Not only does it shortchange you on your services, but it’s like giving away the income you need to keep growing your business.
Giving in to a client’s request for a discount is the worst way to provide a discount. You don’t want your clients to be in control of your service fees. That would be like going to a fancy restaurant, and after eating your meal, telling the cashier you’d like to pay five dollars for your 16oz ribeye steak.
Making your services appear to be discounted as a marketing tactic is also a bad idea in web design. That trick works in department stores, but it’s detrimental to developers.
Discounts make clients see web designers as bargain designers. Discounts lower the perception of industry expertise. Top developers don’t give discounts, and you shouldn’t either.
The only appropriate way to offer discounts in web design is as a reward for long-term, consistent, on-time payments. Or, out of appreciation for a pleasant experience with the client. For example, you might work with a client for six months and find them an absolute pleasure to work with. Give them $100 off their next project. Or, give them free hosting for a month. It doesn’t have to be big. When a discount is unexpected, your clients will receive it as an expression of gratitude – a reward.
Don’t give up when it gets tough
Every business has ups and downs, but don’t give up when things get tough. When you bootstrap a business, money will be tight at times, and that’s okay. Stay focused on your long-term goals, and be committed to achieving your definition of success.