I actually intended to only post the link with a short note to send you over to read it, but soon enough my ramblings turned into a kind of position check, looking at where Nils and I are, right now, with setting up our own business as an official team.The list had me nodding all the way and I must say it was a good feeling to see that most of these things have at least crossed my mind at some point.
We are just starting and definitely small, I really like and respect the person I’m going into business with and we make sure we always get green light before starting work on any project (although this mostly consists of an email confirming our offer instead of a signed contract).
Estimating is getting easier, although a make-do InDesign template is not the easiest set-up for actually getting the estimate down on paper. I tried Billings, but dropped out sometime last year. As only a multiple user setup would really make sense now, I most likely won’t go back to using it as its functionality has so far not convinced me to spend 140 EUR per user on Billings Pro. What’s your workflow for setting up estimates and bills?
Our estimates are getting more detailed each time we set one up, but I do need the reminder to consistently write down exactly how many concepts and rounds of revisions are included. This used to feel somewhat limiting to me in terms of how to approach the specific challenge, but I come to see that this limitation - or rather, this set framework - is a huge help. Even just writing this down makes me feel silly about it.
I’d say we’re going strong on client communication, but it has been a steep learning curve and still is. Especially communicating on the phone has been a challenge for me - I don’t really like talking on the phone and I’m not the best at conducting a result-orientated conversation. But with more and more practice, I have come to see that I am indeed getting better at it - and totally prefer the straight-forwardness of talking directly over writing or receiving an email in specific situations. Way to go.
Saving money from each check seems like a good plan, although our taxes are covered by pre-payments (but you never now if they are enough) and sales taxes will be handed over at the end of the month anyway. The latter is totally new to us, and we are still looking for a simple program to help us keep up to date - maybe Umsatz can fit the bill? (Pun intended.) Right now, we can’t afford a bookkeeper yet, but I can definitely see one in our future. Nils and I chatted about this the other day and even though I like to know what’s happening finance-wise, it seems like a simple enough idea to get some good people to work with us.
Skipping to the end of the list, I see the point that I feel we truly need to improve: promoting ourselves. I mean, right now we are quite deep into web design projects, but we haven’t even got a proper website of our own yet! See what I mean: <http://hananils.de> Hello? I know this “happens” to a lot of people, but I won’t take that as an excuse. There is none. Who will speak up for us if even we don’t? I am humbled that our past clients are indeed referring us to other people they trust, but we still have to stand up for ourselves, too.
Promoting others made me think of this blog, how it came to life, and which turns it will take in the future. Change lies ahead - but the explanation will have to wait for another blog post, as right now, all I have left to say is thank you, Eight Hour Day, for sharing your insights and inspiring this rather lenghty status report. Oh, and in case you haven’t been following along on their adventure yet: Katie, Nathan and their dog Eli are currently on the road for a year-long inspirational journey across the United States, regularly updating their blog with impressions of their trip, inspiring places, studios and people they have visited along with everyday discoveries they come across traveling the web. I highly enjoy their stories - so maybe you will, too!