Finally, you have decided to have your design Agency. That is great news you have already taken the first step by making up your mind. Now it is the time to put all your energy and resources in one direction i.e. towards learning every bit about opening a Design Agency. By this time I am sure you know what exactly a design Agency is. Means you may or may not have an idea about what all task, responsibilities it has to carry and what legal, social, economic, and other areas of departments it is attached with. If yes, that is great. No? Even then, no issues as what you are going to read in a while will answer all of your questions including the tips for opening your design agency.
What is your core as a design agency?
You should know what you are as an agency. It means that people should be very clear about what they can expect from your design agency. The kind of work specifically and the areas which you can deliver must be clear to you and to them as well.
Access and Acquire skills
Before you start your own agency, it is very important to know about the latest technology of the market. Take some time out and see what are the area of languages, tools and technology other design projects are using. When you are starting your agency alone, it is important to make sure that you master at least 70-80% of it or maybe if you can delegate some part if other people are there to help in your business. Business skills are important too apart from technical knowledge that is required. If you do not have those, look at the options to acquire them.
Source of Money
I understand you have a saving account and you are ready to put all your money in your dream project (running your own design agency). However, if you ask any great businessperson, he/she would suggest you to keep a chunk of your savings for the time of crisis. I am not trying to scare you but for a new business, taking some loan from a bank or other sources partially is a better idea. Timely repayment with some extra interest is a wise option than putting all your savings in a new business.
Do you know about your competitors?
You know that you are good to go to open a design agency of yours, but do you know how others are at this business? If no, then try to find out about the competitors of the niche design area of your agency. There are several minds working out there in the market who are working in same direction. Now until you know about them you cannot propose your unique ideas to your potential customers. As I mentioned before credibility speaks louder in business. To get clients, you need to give them something unique that your competitors do not possess.
Professional advisors and a solid business plan
Planning takes hell lot of time in any business. However, it is as crucial as execution. You must have a vision for your design agency. A five or may be ten years vision and goals with half-yearly milestones to achieve those goals. All this has to be written that will be followed in a business plan. It has to include location, income, inventory, employees etc. In addition, acquiring knowledge in all departments (required to start a business) is almost impossible for one person. You also need to invest in some professional advice. Your social network (or outside) can get you some financial advisors, accountants, suppliers and other qualified people in their specific areas that are crucial for your design agency business.
Portfolio and branding
WYSIWYG i.e. what you see is what you get. Hence, marketing is very important if your want to see your design agency growing. A good portfolio displaying your sample work (make sure you take care of your proprietary) to the potential clients can bring more work. Gradually you can go for branding, highlighting your uniqueness and credibility. As I mentioned earlier, brand means credibility and this is what speaks in the market.
By this time, I have this strong feeling that you will start it right if you follow what you just read and explore more to learn further and innovate to grow further. However, one important point, which I would like to stress upon, is that starting an agency is one thing and finding the clients another. Here comes your social network and links, which will help you to get your clients. Now, when you have clients and projects to deliver, it is very important that you deliver quality with in deadlines.
Credibility is something, which you have to earn it, and no article/read can help you there. It is true for any business, after all, it is your work, and hence credibility that will speak on your behalf to get more work in future (through referrals). I wish you a wonderful work experience with your own design agency. Hard work always works. Keep designing and keep learning!