Top 6 Mistakes in Building my Successful Web Design Business


I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. Like picking gymnastics as my sport (I’m now 5’10), and my clothing and hair choices throughout the early 90’s, and a bunch of stuff in college… let’s just say I’m glad social media didn’t exist until after I graudated. To be honest, I’m a huge fan of mistakes. Mistakes are how you learn, how you grow as a person, and how you get better at whatever you’re trying to do. And that’s why my favorite mistakes are the ones I’ve made while building my 6-Figure web design business. It seems every mistake I make (and realize) takes me to the next level. Here are my top 6 face-palm worthy mistakes of my career… so far…

1. Not Having a Plan
I’m a fan of winging it and being spontaneous, but let me tell you – that’s not a great strategy for running a business. Taking on anyone as clients and everything as projects is the fastest way to burnout and failure. Get your shiz together and come up with a business plan that makes sense for you.

2. Avoiding the Social Media Game
Social Media became a thing while I was building my business – and I chose to see it as a nuisance instead of an opportunity. I still to this day hate posting! But I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the social media tornado and ignored it. The biggest opportunity lost was blogging. If I had started blogging when I should have, I would have 100s if not thousands of blogs with loads of SEO juice sending prospects my way in my sleep.

3. Neglecting my List 
Along with those phantom blog posts I never wrote, I also have nightmares about the emails I missed out on collecting. Any successful online business will tell you their most valuable asset is their list of emails. Hundreds or thousands of emails to send out a targeted promotion to at any time. Don’t be like me – start building an elist right now with a free service like mailchimp.

4. Forgetting to Keep Learning
I’m competitive. And I’ll bet my ‘busy’ is on another level from 95% of normal people ‘busy.’ But that is NO EXCUSE to stop learning about my craft, industry trends, latest technologies and current events. I’ll have a web design conversation with colleagues in the business and not know what they are talking about half the time because I am so out of it. I haven’t read a full book to further my education in YEARS. I plead 3 kids and 3 dogs. Wait – no excuses! Spend a couple days a months for continued education, whether that’s online research, in-person workshops, or a best-selling book.

5. Rejecting Project Management and Processes
Ugghhh… I hate project management. Loathe. But this is the number one wake up call in all my hard lessons learned. At one point I was drowning in work (biggest year ever) while drowning in babies (newborn, toddler, kindergartener) and realizing I could NOT continue to keep doing what I was doing while keeping my sanity. I stumbled upon a blog article titled ‘Why I quit my successful web design business of 10 years’ that rocked my world. Then I read the book, E-Myth (might actually be the last book I read… see #4 above!) and had some harsh realizations come to light. If I was going to grow my business without cloning myself, I needed processes in place and to productize/automate a significant chunk of my services. This is something I still work on today and will never really be ‘done’ with, but holy moly it would have been nice for this lightbulb to go off a decade sooner!

6. Ignoring Recurring Revenue
There is such a thing as the holy grail, guys… and they call it ‘recurring revenue.’ If I had acknowledged this concept back when I started my web design business, I would be working from my mountain condo in Telluride right now with my Jag parked out front. Work recurring revenue into your business plan that adds value to your clients and guaranteed income to your bank account.

What about you guys? Any questions about these? Any mistakes to add? Anyone want to come slap me for letting this mistakes happen?! My saving grace is knowing how much I have learned from these mistakes – I hope you can learn from them too.

Kelly Diekmann

Business Instructor

Kelly is owner of KDesign. She has an MBA with a Marketing emphasis from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and a BS in Information Systems with minors in Math, Spanish and Art from Nebraska Wesleyan University. Learn more about Kelly