7 essential things to kick-start a company

Terence Huijgen

All the choices you make have an impact on what you do in the future. After graduation, there are a couple of important choices you’re going to make. Are you going to work somewhere or do you begin working for yourself? I decided to continue with my design studio named Reversed. In the last couple of years, I’ve talked to a lot of people. This helped me to define a couple of basic, yet powerful, principles to grow my business faster. If you are aware of these actions you can achieve your business goals faster.

The principles are helpful if you already own a small company or if are curious about freelancing. The principles are generic and applicable to all sorts of branches. I’m not an expert, but I like to share my perspective and experiences as an entrepreneur. Let’s jump right into it.

1. Show the world that you exist

It’s important that people know of your existence. The best way is to ask people in your direct surroundings if they have work you can help out with. By this, I mean the people that you already know like family, friends or someone you’ve worked with in the past. You will see that there are a lot of people that need your help. And because these people already know you they are more willing to grant you work. And if they don’t have a project laying around, they can connect you with people they know in their network. Just talking to people reveals the similarities between your profession and theirs.

You need to understand that projects don’t come in by itself. If someone doesn’t know what you can offer them why would anybody hire you to help them? It’s not embarrassing to ask someone if they have a project where you can help with. At the end of the day, we’re just people who need each other to get things done.

2. Don’t be scared, acquisition is fun!

Acquisition might be a bit scary, but it doesn’t have to be. We made a list of all the companies we would like to work for. Then, we’ve sent the people working for these companies a message on LinkedIn. We told them that we would love to work for them and asked if they have some design work where we can help them with. A lot of people gave us a positive response and asked us to come over to have a face-to-face meeting. By doing this you can expand your network and have interesting conversations with people in your industry. Even if they don’t need you immediately, they can introduce you when they need you in the future.

3. Challenge yourself

It’s easy to become a one trick pony and do the things you’re already good at. This often brings in enough money and it doesn’t cost a whole lot of energy. But after a while, you will notice that you take on the same projects and that you don’t grow as a company. That’s why it’s so important to challenge yourself. Go try out new techniques and take on different types of work at every new project. This way you get motivated to discover new things.

If you want to implement a new workflow you will realize that it’s hard to convince the client of the added value. If a client doesn’t have the budget for it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. Likely you want to expand your knowledge so you can take on bigger projects in the future. Sometimes this means that you won’t get paid for it. The next time you want to convince someone to hire you and use a certain technique, it will be easier. Because you can show them how effective it was in the previous project. You not only grow as a company but you will grow as a person because you learn new things.

4. Be eager

Show people that you are eager to work with them. Most people will admire the fact that you are eager. They will see that you are passionate about your profession and that you take yourself and your work seriously. But it can conflict with your ego at first. It doesn’t sound “cool” to say to a person or a company that you would like to work for them. But you will see that people take this as a compliment and that they are willing to work with you. And then you’re one of the cool kids because you work for the biggest company’s brands in your industry.

That’s why we talked to Pathé Thuis on The Next Web this year and asked them if there was a project we could help them with. Pathé Thuis is one of the dutch leading on-demand video platforms. A few months later we are helping to design their new B2B website. Just to show Pathé Thuis that we are passionate about working for them, they gave us the opportunity to work on such an awesome project.

5. Be aware of the next move

As a company, you are responsible for bringing in a continuous stream of projects. That’s why it’s so important to think one step ahead. It’s easy to get comfortable with your current situation because you recently brought in a big project. You work on this project for six weeks and forget to make time for business development. When you finish this project you want to have the next project in the pipeline. Continuously seek for new clients to work for. This can be as little as two or three hours a week. Running out of money is the worst possible thing that can happen to you. You don’t want to take on projects for less than your hourly rate or projects that differ from your core business. This will suck all the energy out of you, I’ll promise you.

To make time for business development we blocked two hours every Monday morning in our agendas. This way we don’t have any excuses to NOT do it and we tell clients that we don’t have time to work for them at that moment.

6. Try out impossible things

It’s interesting to try out things that look unachievable at first. This can mean that you seek contact with a company or person you always wanted to work for. It’s not crazy to have goals that look hard to realize. These things may look unachievable but you don’t know if you don’t try.

Our big dream is to work for big companies in foreign countries. We send these companies emails with a couple of concrete things we can help them with and that we are looking forward to work for them.

We’ve started with this last month and we already got a few positive emails in return. We might not work for them immediately but it’s great to get in touch with the people you are looking forward to work for. You may not achieve the goals straight away, but setting these goals will give you something to work for. Maybe one day they will come true.

7. Work with people who are older and have more experience

This is maybe one of the best things I’ve learned. If you graduate you just want to keep learning. It’s a human thing to keep learning. A good way to do this is to surround yourself with people who are older/have more experience. These are the people that have a lot of knowledge that they can pass on to you. I’ve seen a lot of people who are too stubborn to listen to an older people and surround themselves with peers. Time after time these people ran into the same issues where we are running into. So it’s helpful to connect with these people and listen to them.

I think young and old can mean a lot for each other. These young minds give understanding of the newest trends but with the lack of experience we have a hard time see the consequences of actions. Older people have this experience and can help us see what can go wrong or not because they have seen a lot of obstacles in their life. And the older generation gets inspired by our young minds because they get stimulated to think in new possibilities. The last couple of years I’ve seen a lot more diversity in school/work environments but I think we have a lot more to win there. It’s all about how you open yourself to the other person.

Thanks for taking the time to read my first Medium post. I hope you liked it. I’m curious about your perspective as well. What have you done to grow faster and achieve your personal or business goals? If you have any questions you can tweet them to @TerenceHuijgen

Stay awesome 🙌

~ Terence

Terence is a founder & UX designer @ Thinkreversed.com | Previously a UX designer @ Revue. He is really passionate about solving problems with design. You can follow him on Dribbble or…

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