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Thread: Starting Up

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2002

    * Starting Up

    Righto, I'm in the preliminary stages of starting up my own web development and print business. Initially I will be a sole trader. Basically at the moment I am relitively clued up on web development, but when it comes to running a business, I know next to nothing.

    Just wanted to ask a few questions about general conduct when dealing with clients:

    Let's say you get a mail from a potential client, saying that they wish to purchase your services. What are the steps from there to the point where you hand over the site to the client?

    How exactly do I go about setting up a secure server to make online transactions? Who do I have to speak to, bank manager etc.?

    When do I take the money from a client; before I start work on the site or when it is completed?

    How do you look after your books and keep records of sales and clients etc? Do you you use Microsoft Access/Excel? Also, are there any aspects of the data protection act that need to be considered?

    Well, that's my questions for now I think. Any help really would be appreciated.


  2. #2

    First talk with your local chamber of commerce and county to see what resources are available to you as a new business owner.

    Often times there are resources available that you would not have believed or otherwise known about.

    Second, policies and procedures need to be developed so everyone is treated fairly and consitently.

    A business model needs to be developed that includes operational guidelines and SMART goals.

    SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Targeted.

    As part of your growth curve, do talk with your local banks to see wha they offer. More and more banks are ecommerce aware, and can take you through what you need to do.

    Check out SCORE as part of the SBDC (Small Business Development Corporation / Center -- forget what the C means). This is a group of retired or otherwise volunteer business owners who can share with you how to run and grow your business.

    Network, network, network, network. Ask questions (I've only heard one stupid question in my life --- how will Microsoft Paint help me make business decisions? -- go figure), and learn.

    Check with your host to see how they can help you grow your business. A good host will want you to grow so you are a long term customer and help them grow.

    There's more, but this should keep you very busy ;-)

    Take care and God Bless.
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  3. #3


    In regards to one of your questions, get payment in chunks. For hosting--get it all up front, but for design we do the following:

    25% upon signing of the proposal (as a retainer)
    25% upon sign off of flat design (we don't program the whole site until they agree to the initial design concepts)
    50% upon completion.

    This helps you from getting screwed. We have clients right now that haven't done JACK since signing off on design, but at least we've been paid for all the work we did, so it's no big deal. Anyway, JMHO. tim

  4. #4
    Well, I've written nearly 20 articles around the web on starting a small business, and SitePoint is featuring a 7 part series (one a week) for the next 2 months. Here is the first one, there will be updates weekly which answer all your quesitons and more
    ::: Jeremy C. Wright :::

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2002


    Thanks a lot guys! I understand that there is a lot of competition in the web development market, but from your experience is there money to be made provided you are good enough?

  6. #6
    Jonny, if you make personal contacts and see to it that your clients are happy, they'll refer many to you. =)
    Santiago Yajan Cruz
    [://Insert ancient Chinese saying here ...]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Another question, regarding contracts. How exactly do I draw up a contract with a client, do I require a solicitor to do it or are there any sites with information/examples? Also, how do you get the contracts signed, fax?


  8. #8
    There are lots of sites around the Net, and lots of articles around the Net on how to write contracts. After you've drafted yours, get a solicitor to give it the nod of approval. I get all contracts signed by Fax
    ::: Jeremy C. Wright :::

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2002
    OK, thanks a lot for the info mate. Is it going to cost a lot to have a solicitor look at it?

  10. #10
    If you look around (so long as the contract is good), it shouldn't be more than 50-100$ for a couple of documents and some annotating. You may have friends of friends you can go to though
    ::: Jeremy C. Wright :::

  11. #11
    I really fail to see what someone can't right a simply agreement on a piece of paper that doesn't require a lawyer these days. It's a sorry testament of society...

  12. #12
    Not at all. Personally when I build a house I plan on using an architect. This isn't a negative reflection on my inability to nail a nail into the wall, it is simply that as the foundation of my house I don't want to have to think about it after it is written.

    There are countless threads on WHT and other sites about people's arses getting bitten by improper TOS, AUP, etc which could have been solved in a heartbeat by a competent lawyer.

    Trusting yourself to write isn't foolhardy, but putting the entire future of your business in the hands of anyone but a professional is. After all, would you hire Bob next door to write your TOS?
    ::: Jeremy C. Wright :::

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Thanks a lot mate. Sorry for being a tad over-inquisitive but another question arose in my mind today. How exactly do I work out the price to charge for a design? I hate these 'packages' when for example you get 10 pages and 8 buttons for $1000; they're far too inflexible.

    I suppose another option is to work out how many hours it's going to take, but then you run the risk of over or undercharging the client. How do you work it out?


  14. #14
    Personally, I don't do packages. It makes clients fit into my mould, instead of being about me empowering them to fulfill their dreams.

    I find out what a client wants, work out a solution for them and price the job based upon my desired profit margin, how long it will take, cost of components, cost of hiring any freelancers I might need, etc.
    ::: Jeremy C. Wright :::

  15. #15


    Following up on Jeremy W.....

    It will take you a few clients until you know how to realistically estimate your time. We typically estimate our time houly, then mark that up 25%-50% depending on how many iterations we anticipate. You will do well to keep very dilligent records on your first few design clients--precisely how much time each task took. This will make your future estimates much more effective. Also, don't worry too much about going over on a client, if you write your proposals carefully, you can usually give yourself a way to go back in and re-estimate. Or just explain to the client that the development has gone way beyond the original scope, and most will be agreeable to re-estimating. Cheers. tim

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