How to Start Your Own Design Agency in 7 Easy Steps4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Nowadays, everyone wants to be a business owner but no one takes into account how much work goes into building your own design agency!
Well, it’s time to stop guessing and actually get some valuable insight from someone who has done it and has now grown their team from 1 person to 10 people in just under a year.
Wanna know the step-by-step process? Then keep on reading!
Step 1: Create your brand
In order to have a successful business, your brand presentation has to be VERY GOOD!
And by a brand, we don’t mean just the logo. Oh, NO!
Any successful brand has very clear and defined promises, mission & vision, and company values.
You’ve got to start writing those out in order to get to the bottom of what exactly it is that you’re doing, selling, manufacturing, and etc.
Step 2: Build a portfolio
This is where you need to CONVINCE your clients that they should trust you and not your competitors. Work portfolios are the best way to do this and the sooner you start building yours, the better!
Show off your designs, creative processes, and problem approaching by combining both visuals and text, and collecting them into separate case studies.
One great tip that we got years ago is to try and describe the final project results by using numbers. For example, you redesigned a website that helped one of your clients increase the number of daily visitors and decreased their bounce rate by a certain percentage.
Write it out or create a cool infographic as part of the case study!
Step 3: “Expose” yourself
If you don’t have exposure, you won’t get very far.
Social media is still a very cheap and effective set of tools that can spread the word around about your new design agency!
So, once you have your brand and portfolio down, you should create your social media profiles ASAP.
Some of the most popular social media channels are:
And then there are also those created for designers to share their work and collaborate:
Take advantage of them! StanVision is present on almost all of these so that we can be open to communication on each channel.
Step 4: Pricing your work
And now comes the most important part of starting any business – pricing your work!
Since we work in the creative industry, it’s important to note that pricing your work doesn’t always correlate with how much time you’ve spent on it.
The price should depend on the value you add to a project.
It’s always good to start off by giving the client a rough estimate of how much time it’s going to take for you to deliver the final product, what approach you’re going to take, what each step of the process is going to be and how much information you need from the client.
Then comes the contract. Always make sure that you’ve provided your client with a quote upfront, together with a contract that you’ve both agreed upon.
Step 5: Add your value
At the end of the day, what’s really going to set you apart from your competitors and other design agencies is your work’s VALUE!
Doing great work is all about really going above and beyond to understand your client, their business and problem, and committing to finding the right solution for them.
Keep up with your deadlines, have great attention to detail, update your client on the status of their project frequently and maybe even try to do a little more than you promised in the beginning!
Step 6: Have a quality gatekeeper
The most important person in your design agency is going to be you!
And that’s not only because you are the owner but also because you have an even more important role to fill – the quality gatekeeper.
The quality gatekeeper’s role is to be responsible for the quality of the work that your team produces. You will have to give constant feedback, make sure that everyone’s on track with their deadlines and that all processes are running smoothly.
If there are any issues or you yourself don’t like something, then you’ll have to quickly find a solution, in order for everything to be perfect!
Step 7: Care about your clients
Don’t forget that we are all humans and we all respond positively to clear and concise communication.
So, make sure you “take care” of your clients by building strong relationships, establishing trust and being as transparent as possible. It all sounds simple but it’s also the most important part of having happy clients that will one day recommend you to someone else!
And remember, having your own design agency is a lot of hard work and will sometimes require you to put in the extra effort.
If you’re not ready to have 10-14h workdays sometimes and weekend business meetings, then maybe think twice about whether starting your own business is the right choice for you.