I started my own web design business 2-years ago. I`d been doing freelance web design on the side of my full-time job - and after getting sacked from that job, decided to make a go of it full time. I established a limited company and set about trading as a full-time web design agency.
In many ways, it`s proved a great success. I work by myself - with a couple of freelance web developers - and have a good number of clients - ranging from small sole-traders up to some very big multinational firms. The problem I now face is I have reached a stage where I am physically unable to cope with my workload. The business has grown in to something I`m no longer in control of - and I`m seeking advice to try and find my way out of a problem that threatens to ruin my entire business.
The problem is, although things have expanded too far for me to cope alone, I am not able to take the next step in employing the staff that would help me cope and grow further. Some figures for background info: My sales turnover has been around the £90k level each year for the first two years of trading. I`ve made around £50k net pre-tax profit each year. I have about 40 clients, all of which pay me a monthly fee for ongoing services - ranging from anything between £20 per month up to £200 per month (these fees total around £2,000 per month). I spend quite a lot on marketing (between £10k and £15k per year) - and other costs include freelance personnel and bills. Currently I work from home - so have no office rent/rates to pay.
Although the financial figures are quite good for a single person working alone, they don`t give me enough scope to expand to the next step. Really, I need an office premises (approx £10k p/a), at least one other web developer (£30k), An assistant/admin/secretary (£14k) - all of which totals £55k - before my marketing / bills which push my basic costs up to around £75k per year. So on current figures, I go from making a healthy £50k profit - to an unhealthy £25k loss.
The trouble I have, is I don`t know what more I can do in order to bridge that gap and expand like I need to. I have regular local business magazine adverts, a good direct-marketing campaign (email and post), excellent search engine positions, an effective Google Adwords campaign... There`s nothing more I can do marketing-wise to increase my customer base. The area I am in has plenty of web design companies with 10 to 20 employees, big offices in town - and they`re all making healthy profits. My research shows my pricing levels are in line with them (I charge anything between £2k and £10k for my websites).
In a nutshell, I know it is possible/profitable to run a web design company with a few employees - which would help take the unbearable strain of workload off of me - but with no experience in working for such an agency (my background was with a large corporation not a web agency) I do not know what I need to do to expand profitably and sustainably. All I know is I am near breaking point - working 15-hr days, 7-days a week, with no time for family/friends/hobbies - and an increasingly disgruntled customer-base because it takes me so long to get round to their requests / build their sites. Does anyone have any experience / advice in a situation like this - where it is essential I take on some staff and spread the workload - but don`t seem to have the financial figures to justify / afford it?