Today, choosing the right web designer is crucial to the growth of your business. It’s very easy to find one in the southeast region of the world, who will charge you pennies on the dollar. They’ll also be hard to reach after you pay them. If you hire someone in South America, you might get something other than what you bargained for.

It’s also unimaginably difficult to find your first designer because lots of biases come into play. If you’re in the beginning if your business, you’re probably low on funds. You have lots of fees to pay and deadlines to meet. You may not even have a steady flow of customers or an idea of what works and what doesn’t in the industry. You’re lucky if you have a mentor, but most of us did not.

When searching for a web designer for small business – it’s more about the connection you feel with the person or agency than their actual skills in the developing the site. You’ll likely change the site several times, and update your pricing, sales strategy, heck you might even change the product.

Just make sure you’ve got someone on your team that cares not only about the business but about you as a person. You’ll want to work with the same agency for all of your tech needs and be able to count on them without having to call every day.

The Difference Between Hiring A Freelancer & Hiring A Digital Agency

A digital agency isn’t like an employee. They can take your money and do whatever they want with it. This “agency” knows all your secrets and has access to your backend. They could virtually ruin your business if you leave on bad terms. However,  most agencies won’t do this.

Web design is usually a one-time service. Once the site is built, you’ll let it sit for a while and eventually down the road, inquire about updates. When you learn how expensive the updates will be, you’ll reach out to the next web designer and agree to have the entire site developed from scratch.

They’ll probably try to sell you on some marketing or social media management services – but the prices might seem steep.

Agency 101

Depending on your client value, and the type of business you’re operating – this pattern may cycle for years. However, any business that’s maintained substantial growth has had a significant marketing/branding budget.

By working with a trustworthy agency, you can ensure that your efforts are worthwhile. The agency will be willing to grow with your company, and there is mutual trust. A good agency will not leave you behind when times get tough.

Now I want to share a little story with you. This story is about a prospect I never actually worked with, and I’ll explain why.

He said he owned a company that was going through some “growing pains.” What he defined as growing pains turned out to be starting pains.

The Trials of Small Business Growth

Prior to opening Darling, I worked as a freelance SEO and web designer.

The prospect I mentioned before was looking to set up a presence in the local estate planning market and wanted to open his own legal firm. He was a nice guy from Minnesota (would love to hire someone from there, such nice people!)

Little did I know he was a financial advisor who had passed the bar exam and wanted to convert his financial advising client’s into legal clients. he already knew where all their money was going so he didn’t see anything wrong with selling them an additional service they could benefit from.

Cool, I had no problem with that…

A Change of Pace

But this is a very different set of circumstances than what we’d originally discussed.

With this estate planning firm, he was starting a new business with zero sales, no strategy, and no qualified clients. I was under the impression we would consult and handle the marketing and branding of an already established business. But all he had were his own referrals, and a website selling something completely different than what he really wanted to sell. He needed to start from scratch.

From the outside, he had all these bright, shiny accolades and a great portfolio – but on the inside, he was an employee who hadn’t crossed over into entrepreneurship. Instead of providing a B2B service, he needed counseling, consulting, products, and services, AND maintenance.

Convincing A Lawyer To Change His Mind

The first thing I told him was that he needed a new website. He had very limited funds because he was going to be using his salary earnings to fund this new venture, and had to get everything approved by his wife.

We don’t typically work with startups for this reason. Not because he had a wife – but because he hadn’t taken any action or gotten any results.

When we go in to develop your brand and your digital presence, we need to know as much as possible about you, your business, and your goals. You must have taken some sort of action already and be making sales in order for branding to work. This is only because you need a point of reference to gauge how well you’re able to scale your results. If you’ve never made a sale, you’ll have several issues to overcome before you begin to solidify yourself in the market.

Most of our clients are small business owners who have been in business for 20+ years. They have lost the “soul” that originally made their brand so appealing. Some no longer have an edge over competitors and seek a rapid change of pace. They ultimately want to improve their bottom line.

It’s best if you have something tangible (not just an idea) that we can add layers to. If you’ve only made a handful of sales but know your target customer very specifically: their likes and dislikes, their lifestyle choices, their personal attitude about life, their hopes and fears, and where to find these customers, we can make magic happen.

How To Know If It’s Time to  Scale Your Business

Branding is more about scaling a system than it is about trying out new things. It’s like your current business model is “point A” and your goal is “point D”… we connect the dots for you. You may not even see a way to get to points B & C but that’s our job. You just have to be very specific about where you (and your customers) are right now, and where you’re going.

This is surprisingly hard for many people because they kind of just happen into the position they’re in. Whether you’re tasked with running a family business that’s been passed down, or you started out closing deals in your parent’s garage, it’s hard to know your current brand from the inside of the company. That’s why it can be helpful to get a fresh opinion on where you’re winning, and where you can improve.

Are you small and fat (very few employees & higher prices) or commoditized (many employees & lower prices)?

Weight, Load, & Speed

The former will result in greater valued clients & process efficiency, and the latter will result in more leads. It’s all a numbers game anyway so this is irrelevant. One strategy is just more expensive in the short run and the other is more expensive over time.

Unfortunately, most web designers won’t get so specific with you about your bottom line. There are many, many great coders and UI/UX designers out there. However, what differentiates us is our company is the combination of a solid digital marketing strategy, with strategic psychological triggers that influence buying decisions. We seduce customers, taking the bulk of the work out of closing the sale. This reduces the need to micro-manage your employees and saves you time, helping your sales process to work like a well-oiled machine.

These things are very important to know when selecting a web designer for your small business.