Get the Most out of the Recession

An economic downturn is a great time to buy, expand, and build if you have the reserves to do so. But if you don’t here’s what I suggest:

  • Throw yourself into whatever you’ve already got going. If you had money you could hire cheap labor to help with this, but if you don’t then you want to be as ahead as possible when things start to turn around.
  • Start some new projects. If you have an idea you’ve been sitting on, put in some late nights and get it going. A bad economy will force you into a shoestring budget which is a good thing for new projects.
  • Unemployed? Business slow? There’s tons of free marketing available (particularly on the internet), but it takes time to develop. Get the social networking bug and get your name out there, or join some local small business groups. The most stringent investment for most of them is the time commitment.
  • Do not: get depressed, stop looking for work, give up on your ideas, accept defeat. It’s OK to put things on hold to make ends meet, but don’t let the economy dictate your direction.

How to Close a Sale with a Contract

If you’re anything like me, your in-person and on the phone sales often come to a close when the prospect signs off on your sales contract. From that point, you can get on with work and send a bill.

But what’s the worst part of closing a sale with a sales contract? It’s the waiting. Waiting for the client to receive a copy in their mail or email; waiting for them to sign it and mail it/fax it/scan it back to you.

This part of the process has always been a killer for me because it gives the prospect enough time to lose confidence in their ability to choose the right product and call the deal off. The solution that I’ve started using is an online contract tool called SignatureConfirm.

This utility lets you make a contract online that another party can digitally sign. You can write whatever you need to in the contract part, and it will show up in your prospect’s email box. The best part is that once they get the email, they can digitally sign it right then and there! I’ve used this tool to narrow my 5-7 day contract waiting period down to less than a day. In some cases when I’m talking to a client on the phone, I can close in 5 minutes!

Picture this:

Me: Hi Bob, thanks for taking my call. Did you get a chance to look at those estimates I sent over?

Bob: Hi Keith! I did, and they look good. We’d like to move forward.

Me: Great! I’m emailing a contract over to you and we’ll start work as soon as you sign off on it. Look for the email from SignatureConfirm. You should have it by now.

Bob: I got it – I just put in the code and check the box?

Me: Yep.

Bob: Good deal! Do I need to do anything else?

Me: Nope, we’re all set! Thanks for the call and if you need anything call or email me anytime.

This is a true story, and it’s not the only client I’ve signed off like that. The ease of use factor does wonders for the time turnaround. I also have a theory that as a whole, we’re starting to get pretty blind to those little “Accept the terms of usage” checkboxes that you see on web sites everywhere and we’re more apt to click first and ask questions later.

Regardless of how you use it, it’s a good tool and I highly recommend it.

10 Ways I Improved My Web Design Business

Here are ten things that directly impacted the success of my web design business:

  1. Build sales leads through face-to-face in person networking.
  2. Accept credit cards online.
  3. Require 50% payment in advance before starting a project.
  4. People will respect you more if you charge them what you’re worth.
  5. Spend equal amounts of time developing your own projects.
  6. Track your profit and loss scrupulously.
  7. Lock in repeat services like web hosting.
  8. Build a network of reliable outsource vendors.
  9. Establish referral partnerships.
  10. Find a product you can deliver and focus on it.

I started this as an email in response to an article on and it morphed into its own blog post.  You can read Kevin’s article in full at:

5 Mistakes That Made Me A Better Freelancer