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The Business of Design - Part 2 : How to deal with clients, write a proposal and more

In the first series of business of design Part 1, we talked more about how to price your services and how to establish your personal brand. The second article in the series breaks down how to seal the deal with your clients and secure your business.Now that you know how to attract your prospects, it’s time to establish your process through which you sign a new project, conduct it, and do the handover.


Do not do anything unless you have secured your NDA, contract, and payment. Design business is a sensitive business because you deal with the look and feel and how a client’s application should behave. Following a strict, defined process to negotiate, start, and close a project gives you peace of mind and reduces lots of unnecessary back and forth between you and clients.


You should never feel awkward about insisting a client signs a contract. It’s a mark of professionalism and will actually inspire confidence. Any client who refuses to work with one should be treated suspiciously as that’s a serious red flag. And a designer who works without at least a written agreement can get into some serious obstacles later down the road.For example, if you don’t specify that I only work with legally purchased materials, you might get yourself into situations that harm you financially.


NDA is a legal document that keeps the lid on sensitive information. Business owners often need to discuss proprietary or sensitive information with outside individuals. Sharing information is crucial when starting up a business or finding potential business clients. In the design business to protect your work and the client, non-disclosure agreements have long been a legal framework to maintain trust and prevent crucial information from leaking out where it could undermine the profitability inherent to that content. Information that may require NDAs includes design ideas, proprietary formulas, graphics, and logos. These agreements may be referred to as confidentiality agreements (CA), confidentiality statements, or confidentiality clauses, within a larger legal document.


Advanced payment secures that the job will run smoothly and you won’t end up seeing Zero as your bank account balance. Follow the 70/30 payment term, 70% must be paid upfront and 30% can be paid at the end of the project. There are a lot of risks, especially in the design business. It’s more often you bump into a client that you don’t click with and the client or you no longer wish to continue even right through the end of the project. Having 70% of the payment, in the beginning, makes sure that there are no worries since the majority of the payment has been transferred. Do not continue if your client won't agree to this payment structure, even though you have your contract and NDA signed.


After you secure the three items above, you can kick off the work. It may be a bit of a long process before the actual work begins but better safe than sorry.Often designers being excited for a new project they want to kick it off asap. Wrong. Please go through this process and be very patient.



The answer is NONE! It should be Sprint Based. First, let's discuss the difference between a retainer model and project-based and see why sprint-based is better than the two.

Retainer Based

The retainer model is a full-time job in disguise. You become part of the organization and lose your creative freedom. If that happens and you can’t execute your ideas on your own term, high chances they stop working with you sooner or later. Why? Because you’re one of them now. You think like them and follow their processes. A retainer model refers to an agreement between a freelancer (or agency) and a company for a specified amount of time. Where a company pays a fixed rate every month to the agency for a certain amount of work carried out.


This is more like a one-time thing or deal.In a project-based setup, an agency will charge per project to the client. This is usually handy when you know your exact requirement and just need certain skill sets to help you complete the project. The pricing is quoted for the exact service you want and if you need some additional service, you’ll be charged separately for that.

Sprint Based

In this setup, you work with the client in a long term fashion through clearly defined work phases that we’d like to call Sprints. Sprints are short, repeatable phases, typically one to four weeks in length. Each sprint should result in a draft, prototype, or workable version of the final project deliverable. The purpose of sprints is to break down a project into bite-sized chunks. This enables the team to plan a single sprint at a time and adapt future sprints based on the outcome of the sprints already completed.


Here are some of our best practices that made our clients say that they made the right decision for choosing us.



Not that you need to call and email them every day, but give them updates proactively every day. As much as possible give them a report every beginning of the week and what has been done by the end of the week. In this way, they can keep track of what's going on with the project. Book all major milestones into their calendar and make sure that they understand what you do on each milestone. This builds up a lot of confidence that you are a credible person that can work without their supervision.



Do work in quality and best service that you can give to your client. Remember that the design business works by word of mouth. You can add it to the contract that clients can give you a recommendation if they are satisfied with your work. Also, you can ask them to refer you to other companies and for every successful client, they referred they get a %.



Work step by step in building your profile and portfolio, no shortcuts, write them as detailed as possible. There’s nothing wrong with catching small fishes, you can use this as your stepping stones and learning curves. Always and only do quality work that will guarantee success for you and your client. Take time to build and update your portfolio and case studies, they are the things that prospects will look at. Team up with other communities on Linkedin, Facebook, and other social media platforms, where you can discuss your similar interests and learn new things. When everything is well established, go for the bigger project that requires a team of experts. This ends the part of the business of design article, we hope that you get a lot of insightful learnings that will help you forward in your design business journey. If you have comments and suggestions, please feel free to reach out at contact@bonanza.design.For more learnings and tips, join our workshop and community: Design Thinking and Innovation - Only Workshops