In the US, only 56% of startups that began operations in 2014 made it to 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout will likely make numbers for startup success even less favorable. This doesn’t mean, however, that success is impossible. All that it means is that the conditions for success — and survival — have shifted.
While the best choice for many would-be entrepreneurs would be to wait a little longer to begin their startup, for a few others, the wake of the COVID pandemic is a perfect time. Regardless of the time you ultimately decide to begin your startup, you should t consider potential design issues as early as the planning stage. Failing to do so can be a contributor to startup failure and later implementation can result in countless lost opportunities.
For many, using the services of a reliable digital design company will be the smartest way to obtain critical design capabilities in these trying times. Here’s why:
1.) They allow startups to concentrate on their core concept
While design services certainly aren’t unique in being something that could be outsourced, many small businesses may opt to have an employee without design expertise take on the role of “designer”. In the vast majority of cases, this can be a serious mistake.
As it can take years for expert designers to build their skills, a random employee dragooned into doing design tasks will typically be much slower and less effective at them. It also presents a false economy, as the employee will not be able to work on things that they are good at, crippling your capabilities in other areas. The work will usually turn out sub-par and possibly damage the startup’s brand.
Startups are far more likely to succeed if the founders just focus on their strengths. This means less time wasted committing fundamental mistakes obvious to real experts and more time spent on developing the startup’s unique selling points. Everything else that the founders and their team are not good at should be outsourced to a company that has experience in the area. This helps everyone stay focused and makes it easier for the startup to stay true to its mission.
2.) They allow working capital to be allocated more effectively
Cash flow problems contribute to about 82% of business failures in the US. For the vast majority of businesses, cash is life. This makes it critical for startups to have an effective strategy for handling their working capital.
Areas to consider when conserving working capital include employee salaries, equipment, and development. These issues apply when it comes to hiring in-house designers. It can take a lot of time before designers get up to speed, and there are also costs associated with buying and maintaining their equipment. Note that these expenses do not go away when designers aren’t producing any assets for one reason or another.
Thanks to trends in outsourcing, small businesses can avoid these significant ongoing expenses early on. Unless your business specializes in a certain area of design, it’s usually better to just have a third-party design company handle it for you.
3.) Reduced need for office space
Large offices are expensive to rent and are even more expensive to buy. They tend to incur correspondingly high maintenance and utility costs as well. Large, tightly-packed offices are also increasingly seen as a significant health risk to employees in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By keeping your founding team small and by outsourcing design work and other tasks, you eliminate the need for large offices and their associated costs. This not only reduces your expenses, but this can also prevent employees from getting easily-transmissible illnesses, such as colds, the flu, conjunctivitis, herpes simplex, and other diseases that are often caught in crowded workplaces.
4.) Instant access to a wide selection of design experts
Crisis or no crisis, the most compelling reason to go for a third-party design agency is that you get access to people with expertise in specific areas.
For example, if you need someone with animation experience, it may be difficult to justify hiring them on a full-time basis if you only need a one-off animation asset. Unfortunately, being cheap with animation will result in something unusable or a look that does not reflect well on your business. The same scenario applies to virtually all areas of design.
Going with an agency gives you the ability to find someone who can do the design work you need without having to fully commit to hiring them. With all the one-off projects you might have in mind during your startup phase, agencies are your best bet for getting professional-level design assets created on time and in the way you need them to be.
5.) Well-designed assets help maximize growth
Many startup founders make the mistake of waiting too long to invest in good design. A good way to think of design is as a “force multiplier” for your communications and marketing capabilities. The earlier good design philosophies are integrated into your way of doing business, the more people who will be interested in what you have to offer, the better your reputation will be, and the better the odds of your business surviving its startup phase. This will likely remain true so long as humans and businesses exist.
Even with the challenges presented by recent events, it’s clear that digital design companies still have plenty to offer startups and budding founders as well. Even in this new world, it’s clear that the role of design will be as important as it ever was, if not more so.