Deciding to choose the path of Subscription Web Design is easily one of—if not the best—business decisions I’ve ever made.
Still, I wish I could say that it’s all gone perfectly. I made my share of mistakes that I would like to go back and change.
I admit, some of these things I’m not sure I would have been able to change. Even if that’s the case, it’s instructive to reflect on what could have happened differently.
An Important Warning
I am a firm believer that everything that happens is either allowed or ordained by God. This also means that the decisions I’ve made have helped shape everything about the way my life is today.
So I don’t have “regrets” in that sense.
These mistakes don’t cause me to lose any sleep at night and your mistakes shouldn’t cause you to lose any either.
It’s a skill to learn from your past. And when you can do that without beating yourself up, you will begin paving the way toward an ever-brighter future.
Mistake #1: Waiting to make the leap into full-time.
January 2021 was a magical time.
I finally got to “fire my boss” (even though I love and appreciate him and my old coworkers very much!) and go out on my own.
I am forever grateful for the safety net they provided me and my family during the time I worked for them…I’m also grateful for my early clients who made it possible for me to jump into full-time work when I did.
And, still I can’t help but wonder…
What if I had left sooner? What if I hade made the jump before I thought I was ready? What if I could have had two or three more years of the self-employed lifestyle?
You see, it would be easy to blame circumstances as what kept me employed. Too easy. Because I know the truth.
It was not circumstances that kept me there—it was fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of how to support my family. Fear of the famine.
It was also a lack of the boldness to sell, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
At the end of the day, I didn’t really think I had what it takes to be successful. It was a mindset problem.
And with a growing family to support, I think some of that fear was justified. Once again, I don’t regret the decision.
But knowing what I know now, might I have handled things differently? Sure.
Mistake #2: Failing to outsource soon enough.
This one was not for lack of trying. I think I actually outsourced a lot sooner than most, and probably do to the advice I’d received from others who said to do so.
Even still, I think I could have started outsourcing sooner. The mistake I made was thinking that I had to do all the work.
I had a full-time job! I didn’t need to work all hours of the day and night doing web projects. I should have focused my time on selling projects and building my team while living off of my full-time income alone.
Then I would have been able to make the leap even more confidently because I would not equate my time sitting in front of a computer screen with my income.
It’s a big shift—do I spend most of my time in front of a computer screen now? Of course. But it has exactly zero correlation to my income.
That’s where you want to be.
Mistake #3. Failing to charge enough.
Very, very few people avoid this mistake. Learning how to quote jobs accurately is a valuable skill that, itself, takes time and development to learn.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that you should probably triple your quotes for the first few years of business.
If you think it should be $750, it should be $2250. Bottom line. If you THINK it should be $2250, it should be $6750.
That may sound crazy to you.
And that’s why you should do it.
Even today, using the subscription model, I still get some jobs wrong. Some jobs really need to be quoted at higher subscription prices than others, and when I fail to do that, I lose money.
Here’s something you will learn, too: You are the price-sensitive one, not your client.
Now of course I’m not saying there are no price-sensitive clients. But the more you do business, the less you will end up working for them.
Why? Because, in many cases, you’ll just naturally begin to price out of their range.
The mistake comes with carrying their price sensitivity into your new business relationships. You will start work with clients who don’t shop on price or even consider it when it comes to the relationship.
One way to illustrate it might be this:
Old clients: ((Money + Relationship = Business))
New clients: ((Relationship)) + ((Money)) = Business
Do you see the difference?
Price-sensitive clients view money and the relationship as part of the same thing. Which is where squabbles over price come from.
Eventually you’ll start working with clients who see the business relationship as the biggest contributing factor and the money as just the “transaction” that signifies a level of economical agreement and seals the contract.
If you carry the old mindset into new relationships, you’ll charge way less than you should, have much more awkward encounters, and ultimately lose a lot of business.
Mistake #4. Being too timid to sell.
“Sales” is not unethical. “Unethical Sales” is unethical.
The sooner you get that straight, the better.
I would even say it’s difficult to differentiate this on tactics alone, although I am sure we could hash some things out.
My mistake was thinking that I was bothering people when I was trying to sell them. The kicker? I was. But not because of WHAT I DID—rather, because of HOW I THOUGHT.
When you truly have the other party’s best interests at heart, selling becomes a walk in the park. The metric changes.
It goes from, “How many deals did I close?” to “How many people did I serve?”
Now sure, you’ve probably worked for people in the past who would’ve called that mindset pie-in-the-sky thinking. Service doesn’t equal sales.
Or does it?
Zig Ziglar, arguably one of the most well-known and widely respected sales trainers of all time, said this about it:
You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.
In full disclosure, I am still working on this in my own life. When your family and team members’ well-being is on the line, it’s hard to divorce yourself from the mindset of “I need to close THIS deal RIGHT now.”
But the more you can free yourself from that desperation, the more content you will be, the more space you’ll have to serve people, and the more people will like you and trust you.
And guess who people do business with?
Those who know, like, and trust. It’s really that simple. Don’t make it harder than that. (Preaching to myself, now.)
Mistake #5. Not being in community.
Just before I struck out on my own, I joined Josh Hall’s web design club. It’s now called Web Designer Pro.
I owe much of my success to Josh and the fantastic community he built!
I had been in other membership communities, but something was different about his. Aside from just being a great place with great people, I eventually came to understand what made the difference.
The other communities I’d been a part of were for entrepreneurs or people just trying to build an audience online. All well and good.
But I needed to do life with people who understood me, which is what his community offers.
BTW, years later, it’s still a fantastic place, and I would recommend you join ASAP.
Two of my current teammates are members and we’re doing fantastic work together!
I hope you can learn from some of these mistakes!
Truly, there are many mistakes I didn’t make because I learned from others and avoided them. I hope just a few of you will avoid a mistake or two as a result of reading this piece as well.