Working as an independent web designer requires more than just visual skills if you’re going to keep things running on the business side of things. You’ll need to work on all of the basics of entrepreneurship, including managing your time effectively, mastering the art of negotiation, and investing in appropriate tools for invoicing, budgeting, and more.

Not sure if you’re ready to conquer the world of entrepreneurship? We can help. Here are 5 skills and tools every independent web designer can benefit from.

Manage Your Time

Time management is at the heart of independent business management because there’s no one to keep you accountable. This is especially true for web designers who work from home – our homes are traps of distraction with chores, children, and pets. Blocking these things out can be a real challenge.

One option for entrepreneurs who are struggling to stay on task is the Freedom internet blocker. Freedom is the perfect tool for web designers who need to step away from the web, or just from specific sites and apps. As designers surely observe, our willpower is limited and it’s hard to break bad habits like shifting from work to check our email. Rather than trying to resist temptation alone, let Freedom do it for you.

In addition to using Freedom or another internet blocking tool to manage your time, it’s important for entrepreneurs to recognize a key distinction about time that escapes many: the difference between clock time and real time. Clock time doesn’t mean much – we don’t live by it even if we schedule things around it. Instead of focusing on the number of minutes spent on a task or what the clock says, focus on using your real time, your experiential time, on productive activities. If something is slowing you down or distracting you, cut it off.

Invoice On The Go

Invoicing is one of the most tedious parts of business management. When you’re an independent owner, you can’t just shift this task over to accounting. Add clients to the equation who don’t pay their invoices on time, or who need to be invoiced multiple times as you chase down payment, and it can turn into an endless cycle.

In order to simplify the invoicing process and use your time more productively, consider investing in Billdu, a simple invoicing suite for small businesses. Billdu offers an invoice app that allows you to invoice on the go, so the next time you’re waiting in line for coffee or stuck at the mechanic, you can be sending out invoices from your phone. Working on the go is another part of the time management equation.

Keep Up To Date

Web design is a rapidly changing field so it’s important that you stay up to date on advances, new coding tools, and software. Plan to make serious financial investments to stay ahead of the competition. One good strategy in today’s Software as a Service marketplace is to subscribe to Adobe Creative Suite rather than owning a static version of it. The subscription will auto-update with new features and will ultimately be less expensive for you as a professional designer.

Another important investment you can make as a web designer is in advanced design tutorials. Though you’ll likely pick up new skills as you go, undertaking a tutorial in web animation or parallax can be a more efficient way to learn how other designers are negotiating a changing design landscape.

Get Certified

Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enhance your skill set to give yourself a better chance of success. If there’s a particular skill you want to strengthen, consider getting a certification. Many schools offer certificates in entrepreneurship.

You can also sign up for more targeted classes online, such as courses in budgeting for business or business communication. Whether you consider these weak points or you’re just feeling industrious, advertising your business certifications can make your brand more appealing.

Negotiate For Your Life

Finally, you won’t get far as a web designer if you can’t sell your services for what they’re truly worth – and that means learning how to negotiate. Unfortunately, like many creative fields, people seem to think web design skills aren’t worth much. Strong communication skills will get you a long way towards earning what you deserve.

When negotiating, work on removing barriers to understanding. Discussing the technical aspects of a project isn’t likely to get you far with a client who thinks you’re just obfuscating to overcharge them. Instead, use clear language to describe the time and effort spent on a project and make comparisons to other services a client might pay for. Also, don’t hesitate to request a deposit on design work. This, too, may require negotiation but you’ll benefit from being upfront when you get an especially challenging client.

Running your own web design business can be very rewarding, but it’s also a lot of work. Prepare yourself for the work ahead by lining up all the tools and skills you’ll need to succeed. It’s an exciting time to work in web design, but an even more exciting time to work for yourself.

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