How to start a web design business in 2021


Date: 25 October 2021

A web development team in a meeting

Starting your own business is easier and more achievable than ever. All you need are practical, actionable steps to achieve your goals.

Web design businesses are booming. Web design and development was ranked as the 8th best career choice in 2021. If you have been looking to get your web design business off the ground, now is a good time to start making your dream a reality. 

Five steps to starting a web design business in 2021

We have come up with a comprehensive guide that will help you understand the crucial aspects of starting a web design business. You should remember though that every business is unique, and every entrepreneur's vision is different.

Take this guide as a general direction rather than a rigid structure. The idea is to give you an outline of the most important details that you shouldn't overlook. Feel free to tweak them to fit your business needs.

Without further ado, let's get started.

Step 1: Plan it out

First and foremost, you need to create a robust business plan that covers all key details and any contingency plans. If you are considering starting a web design business, it's safe to assume that you possess the necessary design skills to craft your company's identity. 

a. Products and services

This is perhaps the most important aspect of planning your business. You need to define the products and services you will offer. They should be related to your core skills and expertise. In other words, something you can actually deliver. As they say, don't bite off more than you can chew.

That's not to say the range of products and services you offer is fixed in stone. You can always expand your range. In fact, most businesses do just that once the business is up and running. So, plan accordingly.

b. Pricing 

Decide on your pricing structure ensuring it's in line with the going rate in your area or for the specific services you are offering. You can either charge per project or based on an hourly rate. Charging for 'value' instead of time usually proves to be more profitable as you don't have to explain every single minute you spend on a project.

Another important element to consider is the mode of payment. Decide beforehand how and when the payment will be due so that you are not left waiting for payment.

Step 2: Get the legal stuff right


This might be the second step, but it is the most important one. Once you have an outline of what your web design business venture looks like, it's time to tackle the legal and administrative matters. You can check if you need a licence on the GOV.UK website.

You will also need a web design contract - a legal agreement that binds you and your client to the scope of the project. This is necessary to protect you from being exploited, establishing what will happen in the event of a dispute and detailing who owns the intellectual property rights.

A web design contract also protects your clients by detailing what work they can expect from you. All in all, a contract is in everyone's benefit. You can create your own contract or adapt existing templates to make the process easier.

Step 3: Build your team

The next aspect that needs your attention is your team. This is made up of two parts: the actual physical (or virtual) workspace where you will work and the people who will work for you. We advise you to start small until your turnover justifies scaling up.

Flexible workspaces and teams work much better as they give you room to improvise. But make sure you account for every eventuality - especially as a small set up. This is where careful planning in step one helps. You can stay on track if you plan sufficiently well. 

a. Workspace

First and foremost, you need to decide whether you will operate from a virtual workspace or whether you will have a physical office. Most businesses are shifting to a hybrid setting that combines the best of physical and virtual working. It's advisable to  invest time in creating a well-functioning virtual workspace first and setting up a physical office if you need it at a later date.

Many businesses operate virtually all or some of the time these days as it reduces premises or other costs associated with an office settings. Moreover, it means you can hire the best person for the job, regardless of where they live.

To set up a virtual office, you will need certain software and hardware to allow your remote team to work together, wherever they are. Set up an internal communication platform, such as Slack or Cliq so internal communication and collaboration is seamless.

If you are setting up a physical office, look for a location with good transport links. Next you need to make sure you have enough space and the facilities you need. You will also need adequate office furniture and hardware. A meeting room, canteen, and spaces to relax can also make your workspace more appealing to staff. 

b. People

You may already have an idea about the kind of people you want to work with. As mentioned above, working virtually gives you access to a bigger pool of candidates, as geographical location no barrier to joining your team. You can hire people from anywhere in the world, as long as they're a fit for your role.

Smaller firms often start by hiring friends, acquaintances, and former associates. Invest time in networking and build a formidable network of trusted people that can bring a continuous stream of new contacts - both clients and employees.

You can also work with freelancers. Hiring freelancers offers you flexibility and a guaranteed quality of work, often at a lower rate than standard employees. But be careful that your chosen freelancers work well with team and methodologies. 

Step 4: Create your presence

According to research, it takes about 50 milliseconds for website visitors to form an opinion about your website

Whether you like it or not, creating an online presence is key to the success of your business, especially in the post-pandemic world that relies on technology more than ever before.

Consider asking yourself these questions: 

  • Who are you? 
  • What do you bring to the table? 
  • What makes you stand apart from competitors?

These questions help you establish your niche. You need an authentic approach and a story around your brand, about why you started your business. It helps you connect with your target customer.

Set up your social profiles with a consistent theme. For example, the same cover photo or tagline. Tell the same story at every touch point. It acts as an excellent visual identifier for your audience. Personalize your brand to make it more accessible to people.

Showcase your work online in a portfolio and emphasise why you are better than your competitors. Tell them why they should go for you and not a competitor or a freelancer. If you have any testimonials, even better. They act as social proofs that instil trust in your audience.

Step 5: Get clients

When everything is good to go, the last step is to get clients. This can feel like a daunting task, so it's understandable if you are worried about it. But it's not that hard.

As a new business, your first clients are going to be friends, family, and former associates. Do your best on their projects and showcase them in your portfolio. Networking also helps you gain new clients just as much as it does new employees.

If you can afford it, create an advertising strategy. It will help you strategically pitch yourself to the right kind of audience at the right time. You can also form a separate business development team to work on specifically getting clients.

It's important to remember that the process of acquiring new clients is not a one-off task. It's a continuous process. Your sales funnel is the lifeline of your business. You need to put as much effort into it as you can.


At the end of the day, starting any business comes with a series of challenges. However, if you are truly passionate about web design, now is as good a time as any to begin on your journey.

Remember that planning and networking are the keys to a successful business. Planning helps you identify and prepare for contingencies, while networking helps you get both clients and employees. Web design contracts are crucial too, as they help you protect your, your clients and your business.

Copyright 2021. Article was made possible by site supporter SKALE.

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