You’ve been a freelancer for a while, things are going well, and you’re contemplating making a big change. Starting your own web design agency is a huge step to take, but if you have the opportunity, it’s certainly worth considering.
If you see yourself successfully managing a group of people and you feel competent enough in your expertise to guide them, you’re probably considering taking the plunge. Before you do, you need to make sure the timing is right and you’ve satisfied a list of vital considerations.
You’ve been spending all of this time building a portfolio that will make clients want to work with you. What you probably haven’t thought about is building a portfolio that will make others want to work with you. It’s a vastly different setup. You want other designers to be able to look at your portfolio and appreciate the nuances of your vision. You want them to appreciate your work to the degree that they’d love to be doing the same thing, and they’ll be willing to partner with you in order to do it.
All freelancers start out with budget clients. Some of them will go on to do better things, and others will inevitably fold. Look over the list of clients you’ve worked with since you’ve started freelancing – especially your repeat clients. How many of them have gone on to be successful? This counts doubly so for clients that heavily rely on their websites, such as international companies or eCommerce businesses. When you see a fair amount of big names that love your work, you’ll know you have the right connections to branch out.
The budget is wonderful, and you know you’re able to satisfy a client’s criteria. You can’t take the job, because you’re already swimming in work. It’s almost heartbreaking to turn down those offers, but you’d need a 48 hour day to be able to handle that kind of workload. If the business is rolling in and you can’t handle it on your own, hiring subcontractors is a great solution. If you start by doing that and find out that it works well, you might want to become your own agency.
Think about your lifestyles. Are all your bills getting paid? Can you afford to treat your friends to a night out every once in a while? Would you consider your financial situation to be stable? Are you satisfied with the way your savings account looks? Ideally, you’ll want to start your web design agency at a time when there’s little financial risk. It could be bumpy for the first few months, and you need to be sure you’re ready to handle that.
It’s all about who you know. In this case, you need to know designers you could actually see yourself working with. Taking it all on by yourself might feel overwhelming. What about using a trusted colleague as a cofounder? Expanding your network to encompass other designers you can vet as potential employees is a great idea. Keep an eye on these designers for a few months before you extend job offers to them. You may not want to risk your reputation by hiring just anyone. Make sure you have a potential dream team.
Not all freelancers start out with the idea in their head that they may someday found their own agency, but when it happens, it’s one of the most fulfilling things that can possibly occur. Everything starts with baby steps, so take all the time you need to get things in order before you embark on your journey.