How to Start Your Own Graphic Design Business in 15 Steps

How to Start a Graphic Design Business
How to Start Your Own Graphic Design Business in 15 Steps

Starting your own business has never been so easy. That’s why so many people nowadays are considering becoming entrepreneurs and business owners.

Independence is one reason to start your own company, but creative and professional fulfillment can be another argument in favor of starting your own company.

One great option for starting a business is graphic design. Today, design services are in high demand, so you will definitely be able to find clients.

Without further ado, here’s how you can start a graphic design business.

1. Choose Your Business Name and Type

The first thing you will need to do is choose your business name and type. This will determine how you will proceed with creating your business and even how successful your company will ultimately be.

This first step in planning your business is extremely important, so you should think several times before finally deciding on your business name and type.

When choosing your business name, think about a word or phrase that could perfectly describe what your company is about.

It’s best to make it connected to design or graphic design in some way, or you could name your company after yourself if you plan to do most of the work. Make your business name short and memorable.

Your business type will determine how your company will be structured and how it will operate, so it’s best to consult a business attorney when making your choice. The most common types of businesses are sole proprietorship, LLC, and corporation.

Each one has its own pros and cons, and once you decide which type fits your needs the best, you can register your business and continue planning.

2. Establish Which Niche You Will Be Working In

Another crucial aspect of your business is your niche. You will need to establish it as soon as possible so that you can then plan all the other details related to your company. While graphic design is already more narrow than design, you still need to decide which type of graphic design you want to work with.

For instance, some graphic design companies focus on packaging and product labels while other companies specialize in branding and advertising. Among the most common niches in graphic design are logo design, web design, print design, motion graphics, and typography. You can either choose one or several of these.

Try to make your choice based on your own education, experience, and expertise, especially if you plan to be doing the work yourself. If you have a team of graphic designers working for you, it’s still best to know at least a thing or two about the kind of graphic design work they will be doing.

3. Set Goals and Come Up with Your Mission, Vision, and Values

The next step in planning your business involves setting goals and coming up with your mission, vision, and values. You will need to set the goals you want to achieve with your business, including building your client base, growing your portfolio, expanding into new markets, hiring new staff members, and so on.

Of course, you can’t know for sure how your goals may change in a month, a year, or a decade after establishing your business.

That being said, you still need to have at least several goals already that you will be working towards once you have started your graphic design business and it started working.

You should also think about your company’s mission, vision, and values. Your mission is what you want to achieve. Your vision is how you want to achieve it. Your values are the key principles that your company values.

Your mission, vision, and values will give you and your team a sense of direction and will motivate you to grow and develop your business over time.

4. Assess Your Budget, Resources, and Skills

Next, you will need to assess your budget, resources, and skills. Not everyone has a big budget when starting out, but even with minimal resources, you can still open your graphic design business and grow it one step at a time.

This is why it is critical to accurately assess what you have and then decide how you will be using these things.

For instance, if you don’t have a big budget, you may not be able to get a custom website and will have to settle for a template-based website.

Once your company grows and you have enough money to design a new website, you can switch to a custom-made one. But for now, you will need to allocate your money to more important aspects of your business.

Your budget and resources will need to be enough to cover the initial costs of starting a business, including registration, equipment, office rent, marketing, administration, training, etc.

Your own skills and your team’s skills will also be valuable because they will help you get started and perform specific types of work once you start getting your first clients.

5. Perform Competitive Research to Understand the Market

It’s a good idea to perform competitive research at this stage so that you can better understand the market. You need to know who your competitors are, what they are doing at the moment, and what you can expect from them in the future. Besides, this will also give you some ideas for your own business.

If you don’t know how to perform competitive research, you can hire experienced writers from the writing service Trust My Paper to do it for you and give you a report with results. You will need to know your competitors’ products and services, pricing, graphic design style and standards, and so on.

Try to identify the features that define your competitors and then think about the features of your own business that could help you stand out. You need to have something different from them that will give you a competitive advantage. Otherwise, you might not be able to find any clients.

6. Identify Your Target Audience

In addition to finding your competitors, you should also identify your target audience. Obviously, these will be potential clients in your niche. These could be either the people and/or businesses who are already getting products and services from your competitors or those who aren’t doing so yet.

If you are starting out with limited resources, then you shouldn’t try to target a big audience. You can expand it later on once your business is big enough. In fact, it will likely happen naturally at some point as your company eventually grows. But for now, you need to focus on the customers that you know you can most likely get.

Keep in mind that your target audience will not be a monolith. Essentially, this means that you will need to segment it and target different types of customers separately.

It’s a good idea to create customer personas that you can then use in your marketing campaigns for targeting specific customer groups.

7. Decide Which Products and Services to Offer

When you know your niche, your competitors, and your target audience, you can decide which products and services you want to offer.

These should be based on several factors:

  • Your abilities in terms of the resources you have (e.g. equipment).
  • Your abilities in terms of your and your team’s skills.
  • Your target audience’s needs (and whether they are satisfied by your competitors).
  • Your goals for your company and future plans.

Just like you can expand your target audience in the future, you can likewise expand the number of products and services you offer.

Make sure that you set your own standards for the quality you want to deliver and the style you want to show in your work. Your style will be another way for you to set yourself apart from your competitors.

You will need to decide which pricing model you want to choose and then set the prices for your products and services appropriately. Keep in mind the prices of your competitors so that you don’t accidentally underprice or overprice your offers.

8. Write a Realistic and Detailed Business Plan

You need to write a realistic and detailed business plan as soon as possible, so now that you have planned out some things already, you can quickly sketch out and finalize your plan.

You already have a lot of the things planned out, including your business name and type, target audience, goals, mission, vision, values, and so on.

Your business plan will need to include as many details about your company as possible. You need to think about how to make your business attractive to potential customers, but you should also decide how your company will be structured and how it will function. Even the smallest details matter a lot.

Of course, you can’t be sure about everything already, but there are still quite a few things you already can (and must) plan out.

For instance, your financial projections. This aspect of your company should not go overlooked – if you don’t know how to make such projections, hire the right people to help you.

9. Build Your Business Website and Open Social Media Accounts

Your business website and social media accounts will be instrumental in helping you establish your online presence. Moreover, companies today are expected to have their own official websites and social media profiles. You simply can’t skip this step in setting up your business.

Keep in mind your budget and resources when building your website. As mentioned earlier, you may not have the budget or resources to get a custom-made website just yet, but you can get one in the future.

Just make sure that the website you have now is presentable and looks professional so that you don’t scare away potential clients.

As for social media platforms, it’s best to start with the major ones and focus on Instagram because it is a primarily visual platform. You can also open accounts on Twitter and Facebook.

Once again, you don’t need to be present everywhere, especially now that you don’t have many resources to keep up with all the platforms. Even just one or two accounts on the major platforms will be enough.

10. Prepare All Your Legal Documents and Agreements

Legal documents and agreements are probably the part of your business that will require a lot of time (and that you may not want to be doing at all), but these things are by far some of the most important when it comes to the functioning of your company. Without documents and agreements, you can’t offer your products or services to customers.

If you don’t have any knowledge or experience in writing such texts, you can hire expert writers from the custom writing company Best Essays Education.

Experienced writers will be able to create all the appropriate documents and agreements you will need for your company to operate smoothly.

You will need to have all the documents related to your business as well as the various agreements you will use when working with clients. You and your customers will need to sign agreements to ensure that you agree on specific types of work and payment for your products and services.

11. Start Building Your Client Base by Finding Your First Clients

You pretty much have most if not all things in check by this point, so you can start building your client base by finding your first clients. If you will be doing most of the work in your company anyway, there is nothing stopping you from kickstarting your business already.

Here are some ways to find your first clients:

  • Sign up for job boards and search for job opportunities and gigs there.
  • Join relevant groups on Facebook and other social media platforms.
  • Reach out to your friends, acquaintances, and past or present colleagues.
  • Contact local businesses and offer your graphic design products and services.
  • Attend relevant industry (offline and online) events and network there.

12. Avoid Making Simple Yet Common Mistakes

If you don’t have any experience with your own business or even with freelancing, then you could easily start making simple yet common mistakes very quickly.

Avoid them at all costs:

  • Don’t Expect Instant Success – It will take time for your business to grow, so be realistic about your expectations and predictions. Have some patience.
  • Don’t Say Yes to Every Project – Choose which projects you work on rather than taking every gig you can find.
  • Don’t Do Work Just for Exposure – Don’t work for free. “Exposure” is not enough. You need to know the value of your work and ask for appropriate payment.
  • Don’t Do Work without a Contract – Never start working on a project before both you and your client sign a contract.
  • Don’t Work Against Your Style or Standards – Follow the quality and style standards you set for your business beforehand.
  • Don’t Pigeonhole Your Niche and Audience – Let your business grow over time and consider more niches and a wider audience as your company expands.

13. Launch Marketing Campaigns to Promote Your Business

It goes without saying that the most effective way to find more customers and grow your business over time is through marketing. If you are able to promote your business correctly, you will find many clients.

And if they like your work, they could become returning customers who order your graphic design products and services regularly.

Some of the most common types of digital marketing you can do include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on your website.
  • Content marketing, including social media marketing.
  • Paid ad campaigns, including native ad campaigns.
  • Email marketing, affiliate marketing, and others.

14. Network at Industry Events to Find Partners and Clients

As mentioned earlier, one of the ways you can find your first clients is by attending relevant industry events and networking there. But besides looking for customers at such events, you can also find many partners that you can work with to maximize your profits.

This is particularly useful if you are providing similar services that could be offered to the same audience as a package (e.g. product development and product packaging design). You can also give lectures at industry events to build your authority in your respective niche.

15. Grow Your Online Presence Over Time

Last but not least, don’t forget to grow your online presence over time. This includes promoting your website to generate more traffic on it and rank higher in search results and promoting your social media profiles to grow your follower counts.

Your online presence will not only help you establish your brand, but it will also help your business survive in the long term. You need to attract clients, not just reach out to them yourself every time.

Online brand presence is essential for this, so make sure to dedicate time to properly growing your online presence at a steady pace.

Final Thoughts

All in all, starting your own graphic design business involves a number of steps during the planning and execution stages. Use the tips in this article to help you prepare and then successfully start your own company in the graphic design niche.

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