Thursday, November 15, 2007

But when am I supposed to twiddle my thumbs?

Way back in March, I wondered whether it was good idea or not to start a web design/development business. Was there room for yet another one of these on the Internets? I didn't really find a good answer to that, but in all fairness it had been a somewhat rhetorical question. By June I was claiming to be "full speed ahead" and in July we were nearly open for business. We had a name, a website, had become an incorporated Limited Liability Corporation, and had even spoken with an accountant to ensure we got all of the small business tax breaks possible.

But here's the thing: I didn't really expect much business at first. I figured we'd putz around, working on our website, designing forms and dreaming up marketing campaigns. I could do more research on web design and software ... I just thought there'd be lots of time.

Like many, many things in life, it hasn't worked out according to plan. We've actually been much busier than I expected. First we did a few sites for free, to build up a portfolio. Then a woman in my writing group needed her nonprofit's site to be overhauled, and she hired us. (Our first paying client!) Then a student of a co-worker of a friend wanted consulting help with learning how to blog, which I happen to have a bit of experience in;) And then the nonprofit director who liked our work recommended us to others, who called to ask for quotes ....

Not all of these potential clients are going to turn into real business. I know this. But even so, it's moving much faster than I had anticipated. We haven't even managed to finish our site yet, because we've been so busy working on others'! Don't get me wrong: I know this is a good problem to have. I have been very pleasantly surprised and shocked at what a quick reaction we've gotten. I think that answers my original question: can the market sustain one more small web design/development business?

But, being me, I can't ever be purely happy about something. Joy is always a little tinged with sadness, because I am human and constantly yearning for what I don't have. It's wonderful that our side business is actually taking off. I can now say "We're starting our own business," with a straight face, and actually believe it.

I kinda miss reading, though. I like to read. And to knit. And write. And to do other things that don't contribute to the bottom line. Maybe this just means that I'll be satisfied if our business continues to grow ... and secretly pleased if it drops off a bit, and I get more time to myself. So I'm never entirely happy, but I'm never entirely unhappy either.


Amy said...

Glad to hear that business is booming!

Your post reminded me of how I felt a while back when I was up to my ears in freelance projects for three different people, plus taking on a lot of stuff with the alumni association. Things on the freelancing front have settled down a bit now, so I have been making some headway on the reading list and Netflix queue.

I tell myself that I would do some stamping, but I still have a fair chunk of my supplies down at my parents' house. I can't say half, because there is an amazing amount of stuff left in my apartment, but of the stamps/inks/papers/et cetera that I actually use, about 75 percent is in plastic bins in their dining room. I swear that I'm going to knock out my Christmas cards when I'm down there next week. I almost hate to ask, but how are yours coming?

Bren said...

Gosh what an interesting Parallel to my life.

I run Peak Geek here in NZ and had often wondered if I really had what it takes to enter into such a market.

What it really comes down to is passion. I LOVE what I do with a passion... and my skills are catching up with that passion, slowly but surely. I looked at some of the bigger local design houses' websites the other day and it turns out the stuff I do craps all over their portfolios, so that makes me happy :D

Point being, just stick at it. It's so exciting creating something from nothing and I look forward to seeing some of your designs in your portfolio!

Also on the point of things taking off too quickly... my business site has to be the WORST site I have EVER built. It is NEVER quite finished and has been on my to do list to update for at least 18 months!!

M. Lubbers said...

Amy: We haven't really started our Christmas cards yet. Last weekend my mom and sister and I bought some retro stamps and Christmas print papers. Then, with my other sister, we started talking about what we could do, but that was about it. Sometimes I wonder: Is it really worth it to have so many hobbies, when the hobbies end up feeling like work? But I enjoy all of them—when I have the time!

Bren: It's good to hear that other people have the same problem with leaving their own sites for last. I know I also have a lot of work to do in the design department, but I do enjoy doing it and learning more about it. So I guess in a way, this is a hobby that pays me back a bit!

Amy said...

Retro stamps?
Christmas print papers?

Tell me more! With photos!

(Please?) : )

M. Lubbers said...


All of the supplies are at my mom's house. But that's a great idea for a blog entry! You'll get one in early December, with pictures.