A Turn for the Worst Becomes a Turn for the Best
Graphic designer Gary Curtis, owner of the company Zero Six Design, was forced into self-employment due to redundancy in 2014, but now says he wouldn’t change how things turned out. Working from home, with his Schnauzer puppy Travis to keep him company, Gary can now invest his time into projects he has personally chosen. He is now definitely in his element when it comes to his career path and is expanding his client list regularly.
“You need to have a strong, strict work ethic." Gary said, when asked what people should consider first, when deciding whether to start their own business. “Make sure you work on projects quickly and to the best of your abilities. Do that little bit extra, if possible, people notice.
“Also, what is your goal when starting your business? To make more money, have more spare time, work on better projects? It's important you have these things in mind and stick to them. They are the reason you started after all."
For a one-man band like Gary, it’s important that he gains the respect and trust from his clients, to continue working on and expanding the business. “Make sure you are available to take calls. Make sure you respond to emails. It sounds basic but it is human nature to let things slide sometimes," he said.
Gary also stressed that working for yourself requires more self-discipline than if you had to turn up to an office at a certain time and, as a result, it’s imperative you don’t let yourself slack just because there’s not a big boss breathing down your neck.
“Make sure you are at your desk working in the morning and ensure the work space is as nice as you can make it. You will enjoy working in it more." Gary said. “I have always preferred to get things done early and stop those 'employed style' late nights. Likewise, you should enjoy the moments you have when you are not busy. Don't panic and enjoy having some freedom outside the working hours. Enjoy being your own boss."
When it comes down to it, though, there are some things Gary would change about how he initially went about setting up his own business: “I would have sorted out my marketing before starting." He confessed.
“As my business grew slowly, both working full time and freelance, marketing never seemed important. Doing it once you are up and running and busy is tricky and it always becomes secondary to the actual work. It's worth having [a marketing plan] in place, in case you lose a client or want to attract new business.
“Invoicing was [also] my biggest slip up. I would be so into doing a good job and getting the work done that I forgot to invoice afterwards. It's important!"
When it comes to marketing your small business, Gary recommends that you never forget the importance of word of mouth recommendations. “I cannot stress how important that is." He said. “People in business want a good service and stress free relationships. If you do a good job for one, often they will help friends and business partners by touting your service.
“Secondly, get your online presence spot on. Make it have depth, to look like you have plenty of experience, and make it all match up and gel together. Make it simple to use too, a good website will often sell your business for you. New clients often mention my other projects as 'the sort of thing they are after'."
If after all that you’re still in need of some inspiration, Helloprint have created a small business start-up guide designed to walk you through the opening few months of a burgeoning business venture, which you can take a look at here.