Can a Web Designer Be an Entrepreneur?

The World Wide Web is an enormous industry with seemingly endless potential for growth. It opens its arms to welcome any web designer that aspires to become the next Ethan Marcotte or Karen McGrane – if the designer has the right tools.

As the IoT, (Internet of Things) expands to encompass virtually every aspect of life, there’s been no better time for web designers to start their own companies. If you’re considering entrepreneurship as a web designer, here’s what you need to know.

Key Skills to Possess as a Web Designer

Web designers, like other digital startup owners, need key skills to continue onward. These skills include marketing, data analysis, and, of course, fundemantal knowledge of design. Marketing today involves a savvy understanding of social media, SEO, and the newest methods of getting your message across. Luckily, web designers don’t necessarily have to be marketing experts to start their own companies. They can hire a marketer specifically for this purpose if they have the resources to do so.

While today’s web designers have to be on top of current trends to stay relevant, they cannot bypass basic design fundamentals. Trends will come and go, but the fundamentals of design are here to stay. To become an entrepreneur, a web designer needs to have a firm grasp on design elements such as layout, space, navigation, image techniques, and best code practices. Without the building blocks of web design, a designer can’t establish themselves as an expert in the field.

Data analysis is the new face of a successful business, regardless of the industry. Learning to collect and analyze website data is imperative for a designer’s success as a business owner. Obtaining data such as website traffic, user behavior, and click-through rates is the only way to tweak parts of a website that aren’t performing optimally. Data analysis is what makes a successful web designer able to help so many different clients in different industries – they can optimize any website according to its individual needs.

Perks of Choosing Web Design

Web designers have a few advantages over other types of entrepreneurs. They don’t need a brick and mortar shop, for one. Creating a completely digital franchise has its own difficulties, but it eliminates several major costs involved with finding a property to do business from. Web designers also have another major gain – the ability to create a website. A web designer’s website is the crux of their business, and it’s also one of the easiest achievements for a designer.

An additional perk of web design is that it doesn’t require oodles of expensive equipment to start – at least at first. Entrepreneur.com estimates the startup costs for a web designer at only $2,000. A web designer typically already has most if not all of the tools needed to start designing websites: a computer, a fast Internet connection, and webpage creation knowledge.

Today, many important tools and apps are free to download and use on most systems. Basic hardware and software, combined with raw talent, can be enough to get a startup off the ground. These immediate advantages can give web designers the leg up they need to start their own company without the risk of major losses.

Lessons From Designers Who’ve Been There

Web design is an overcrowded industry. However, it’s also the fastest-growing industry with a need for designers who know what they’re doing. If you want to embark on becoming a web design entrepreneur, take a few tips from people who’ve been there. Mark Atkinson, who owns and operates a web design studio in South Africa, encourages aspiring website designers not to give up even when the competition is more experienced than you. It took Atkinson several years to build a successful design studio – and more than one pitfall.

Atkinson had created a mildly successful design business when he realized one major thing his company wasn’t doing – setting itself apart. The websites his company created were template-based and boring. He was taking advantage of “consumer naivety” in the technological age to merely get by. After this realization, Atkinson brushed up on the latest design trends, created a unique selling proposition to differentiate his firm from others, and focused on exceeding client expectations. His main takeaway is to always keep learning to grow as a business.

Other web design entrepreneurs stress the importance of making relationships with others and networking. Some admit that while they have skillsets that are desirable and provide valuable services to customers, it’s relationships they build with clients that keep their businesses afloat. Networking in your niche, making connections, and cultivating real relationships with your clients are ultimately what make people talk about your brand. Organic growth depends on a web designer’s ability to leave clients with a lasting impression.

Five Pillars of Entrepreneurship

Some people were born to be entrepreneurs. Others work hard and craft the businessperson they want to be from the ground up. There is no wrong way to become an entrepreneur, but there are a few pillars that serve as cornerstones for aspiring business owners:

1. Love what you do. Consumers can differentiate a brand created by someone who’s lukewarm about the subject from one with a passion. Web designers who become successful entrepreneurs truly love web design, and have the backgrounds to prove it. They surround themselves with web design, taking courses and doing everything they can to build a life around their passion.

2. Fill a gap in the market. Entrepreneurs see a gap in their desired industry and can’t sleep until they’ve figured out a way to fill the need. A web designer may work for a design firm that ignores responsive design and so wants to start a business that emphasizes this aspect instead. As long as a web designer’s contributions to the field are fresh and relevant, they can become a stand-alone enterprise.

3. Have a vision. Web designers who branch out on their own know how to capitalize on burgeoning trends and predict new ones based on user behavior. They have a vision for what they’re capable of creating and know they can do it better than the competition. Maintaining a goal-based vision is important for the focus of a new company.

4. Gather resources. Hire the right people or do it on your own at first. Either way, entrepreneurial web designers need to have certain tools of the trade to succeed. These include design tools such as Atomic, Sketch etc. Stay on top of the latest resources available to consistently beat competition.

5. Make a plan. Without a hard-copy business plan, web designers can’t expect their visions to become realities. Entrepreneurship is full of freedoms in many ways, but there’s no avoiding the business plan. Take a page out of a successful web designer’s book and learn from others’ mistakes. Include everything you need to start your business in your plan, and take small steps toward your final goal.

Once you’ve established the five pillars of entrepreneurship, begin your journey toward being your own boss. With the right amount of determination and creativity, a web designer can certainly be an entrepreneur – a highly successful one.

Comments

  • Abhijeet Rajput

    Hi Stephen,
    Love your article. Specifically the list of skills you mentioned and the other designers who made it like Ethan, Karen and Mark. It will help new wanna be designers to look up to them..:)
    I also love the five pillars of entrepreneurship you wrote. I would love to add couple of points to that: 1) Creating systems 2) Focus on Business model rather than product/service.

    Here is the short explanation of that:
    1) Creating System: Many start-ups get excited about ideas or lets say specific marketing tactic and then they spend money/time for few months and if the outcome of that doesn’t turn out as expected they get drained. So for that setting up a systems is critical to persevere even in hard times. Systems can for for marketing or productivity or even for operations.

    2) Focus on business model: One of critical reason for start-ups to fail is absence of business model or in simple terms not able to acquire paying customers. So before launching the start-up to major market segment, its important to have proven business model. Or rather I would say, Very first job of start-up owner is to create working business model to get things going.

    Whats your view on this Stephen..?

  • Sagar Kapadiya

    You are right. Everyone has idea but can’t success. We have also idea with Business Model to get cutomers.