One of the perks of running your own design business is the freedom it provides. You have nobody to answer to but yourself. Ok, sure, there are the clients. You do have to answer to them, to a degree. But it’s your business, so you can dictate how you respond to them.
If you don’t want to work Friday afternoons, you can take them off. Nobody is stopping you if you want to try a new design technique or different software. And you get to decide how much you charge for your services and can change your rate any time you like.
The freedom of working for yourself is one of, if not the main reason people choose the life of, and I’m going to say it, even though I disagree with the term, the life of a freelancer. It felt dirty just writing that. Want to know why? Listen to episode 17 of the podcast titled “Being a Freelance Graphic Designer Could Hurt Your Business.” It will make you rethink calling yourself a freelancer.
But where was I? Ah, yes, the freedom of running your own design business. For many of us, it’s the ultimate dream. I will never work for an employer again. And I know many who feel the same. But, just because you’re working for yourself, running your own business, doesn’t mean you’ve made it.
I hate to burst your bubble, but the purpose of every business is to grow. A business that doesn’t grow will eventually fail. Many business studies have proven this. And your business will never grow to its full potential because of one thing holding it back. And that one thing is you.
Yes, without you, there wouldn’t be a business. However, you are also one of your business’s most significant liabilities. How can that be? It’s because of your limitations.
Your limitations may include skills you lack. It may be a lack of time, the time to do things or learn things. Your knowledge may be limiting you. You can’t expect to know everything. Or it could be any number of things.
Don’t feel bad. I’m not singling you out. Everyone has limitations.
What will help your business grow is knowing your limitations and finding a way to overcome them. And one of the best ways for business owners to overcome their limitations is by working with people who offset those limitations.
In other words. Your business will grow when you learn to outsource and hire subcontractors to do what you can’t or shouldn’t do.
I know this may seem like a foreign concept. The whole point of going at it alone is just that, to be alone. But being alone will only get you so far. You need a team if you want to grow beyond your limited capabilities.
I speak from experience. I ran my design business for several years, all by myself. In my mind, it was my business. Therefore I had to do everything myself. My clients were hiring me, after all.
I didn’t take on the project if a client asked for something I couldn’t do. I was limiting my growth. I once turned down a $50,000 website project because I wasn’t confident in my skills with PHP and MySQL. I kick myself to this day for that one. But I couldn’t do it, so I said no.
And I kept at it, Trudging away, taking on only the projects I could do and passing on the ones I couldn’t.
At the time, I was making decent money and thought I was doing well. But my business wasn’t growing. Year after year, my income was pretty much the same. It wasn’t going up as needed for growth. I had reached what I like to call now, my solo limit. I could only take my business so far on my own.
I didn’t know it then, but I was holding my business back. It wasn’t until I started reading more business books and listening to business-related podcasts that I realized that most successful entrepreneurs don’t work alone. They have a team that works with them to accomplish their business goals and help them grow. If I wanted my business to grow, I would have to build a team.
Now I didn’t jump in with both feet and hire a bunch of people. I took it slow.
The first job I outsourced was when I ran into an issue with a client’s e-commerce website. I wasn’t sure how to handle the problem. Given enough time, I could probably fix it, but I had no idea where to start or how long it would take.
Instead of spending hours researching and troubleshooting it myself. I hired a sub-contractor online who was an expert in that e-commerce platform and paid them to fix it for me. It cost me $100 for what I’m sure would have taken me an entire day’s work to accomplish, if not more. Plus, I could charge my client a premium fee for the fix and profit from it.
That’s the case with most contractors. Sure, you have to pay them, but you mark up that expens
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