In January this year, I decided it was time to stop whining about how unhappy I was in my job and do something about it; I’d been working for a local web design company and had become increasingly fed up. My biggest gripe was that they didn’t seem interested in building proper relationships with their clients; I just didn’t get it. So in the depths of January, I started my own business, AG Design Studio here in Kent. I’m primarily a web designer and front-end developer with expertise in building WordPress and WooCommerce sites so I was pretty confident that there would be plenty of businesses out there which needed my skills. After just 4 months, I can honestly say that my business is going strong and that wouldn’t have happened without PPH.
With a really clear idea about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it, things started well for my business; I had already signed my first couple of clients and was ticking along quite well when, working late one evening, I came across the PPH website and thought I would give it a go. I really didn’t know what to expect but, as there isn’t any kind of sign-up fee, I figured I didn’t really have anything to lose by signing up. At best PPH might be a good lead generation tool, giving me a chance to reach out to businesses outside my local area.
I set up my profile and my first couple of Hourlies in just a few minutes and waited. When I set up my Hourlies, I was careful to give really clear guidelines so that it’s clear exactly what’s on offer and what I need from the client to make it happen.
Over the next couple of weeks, I was busy working with my other clients and wasn’t too disappointed when I didn’t hear anything from PPH. Then, just 2 weeks after I registered, I got an email from a potential client who wanted help with their WordPress website; they wanted it to take WooCommerce and wondered if I could help. I contacted them straight away with a definitive “yes”. We had lots of communication over the next few hours and, by the end of the day, the job was finished and paid for and I was on my way. The client, Bill, was really pleased with the quality and speed of the job and awarded me another one straight away. I’ve realised, like Bill most Buyers will come back to me with repeated business because I go above and beyond.
I’m never afraid to say “no thanks” to a potential client if I don’t think that I’m going to be the right person to provide what they are looking for; in the end I find that people respect honesty and will often come back to me when they’ve had time to really think about it.
Dealing with people that you haven’t met can be difficult at first; there has to be a certain amount of trust on both sides until you get to know each other. When I take on bigger jobs, I break them down into a number of small, measurable chunks so the client can pay for each piece as it’s completed; this gives both me and the client a chance to see how we work together before making a big commitment; it also helps me to manage my time and cash flow.
I went into business for myself because I wanted to build great relationships with clients and that definitely hasn’t changed. Good client management is the key to any customer-focused business; you don’t let the relationship end just because the job is done.
I contact my clients regularly to see how they’re getting on and whether they need any more help. I want the work that I’ve done to benefit my clients’ businesses so I’m always keen to answer any questions that come up after the project is delivered. I also provide training notes to help businesses to understand and use the full functionality of their site. It works; I get a lot of repeat business and have also met some really interesting people along the way.