There are many ways to improve your graphic design business. Some of the most obvious ways include building your portfolio and improving your skill set through practice or courses. However, there are additional improvements you can make to your business that don't involve design work. These include anything from how you dress to how you write.
Dress the Part
Many graphic designers became freelancers or started studios for the freedom that goes along with that lifestyle, which often includes wearing what you want to the office (or living room). However, jeans and a t-shirt often won't help you land that next client. Potential customers of your business are looking for a design product, and (in most cases) they are willing to pay for that product. Consider your client when you get dressed for that next meeting or presentation, and the fact that the client wants to feel comfortable giving you that money. Some clients may not care, and in some cases might be looking for a style other than "corporate." In many cases, however, dressing up instead of down will impress.
Good customer service will go a long way. This includes answering the phone, a simple "thank you," following up on leads and with existing clients and being polite in general. Think of the type of experience you would like when you call a customer service number, and apply that to your own business. Working on design projects can be a frustrating process, especially when you are getting direction from others, but don't take out that frustration out on your customers.
One of the first things a potential client sees from you will be your writing. They will see it in proposals, contracts, invoices and in the copy on your website. If you're not a writer, consider hiring one, because the quality of your writing will reflect on you. Avoid grammar mistakes and typos, but also look to impress clients with well-written copy in all of your materials.
Word-of-mouth is a powerful business tool, and networking will lead to it. This includes conventional networking methods such as meetups, but also using social networking tools, email newsletters and other methods to get the word out. You never know when you'll meet your next client, or someone who will mention you to your next client, so always keep business cards on you. Consider joining a networking group or check your local organizations for networking events.
A partner is not necessarily someone who joins your studio or firm. It can be someone who helps build your business by offering additional resources or skills as needed. Find people or companies who can fill holes in the services you provide. If you're a graphic designer, look for photographers, writers and other creatives who you can hire or team up with on projects. If you're a web designer, consider finding programmers who will allow you to take on different or larger projects. Creating partnerships is meant to benefit both sides. You can both take on work you couldn't before, offer additional services and build your portfolios.