My name is David Lohr, and two years ago I started my own business called PC Consulting. I had previously worked ten years working for a social service agency. I do a combination of Web design and consulting for small businesses with PC systems.
My Web design business taught me that people will often have an idea for a Web site without taking into account what the ongoing costs of running a Web site over time will be. A Web site initially could cost just $2,000 plus $30.00 a month to have it running. But the costs involved of running a Web site over time will include updating the site and providing new features, new graphics, and new information that will attract people to visit your Web site and want to return. Owners of web related businesses need to make ongoing investments in their sites.
Having my own business taught me a lot of lessons that I was not necessarily prepared for when I first started. Having a good business plan and a good understanding and knowledge of accounting and tax issues were big lessons for me. I should have had an accountant from the very beginning as well as somebody who would handle all of my accounts billable and my accounts receivable. I'm an expert in computers; I'm not an expert at sending out bills and collecting from my clients.
When you're in your own business, it's up to you to go after the money that you've earned and collect it and follow up with your clients who may be very appreciative of your business but may not be as quick to respond with a check in the mail.
So anybody who chooses to enter the Web design business should have an accountant from the very beginning who can help set up financial plans. Have prewritten contracts that you can present to your clients in order that their expectations are the same as yours as to what will be occurring as you work with your client over time. This will start you off on the right foot and avoid your spending time learning when your are trying to focus on dealing with your first clients.