Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Patrick Llewellyn, CEO at 99designs:
What does your company do?
99designs is the world’s largest on-demand design marketplace, connecting a global community of freelance designers with businesses of all sizes to complete their design needs. Created by designers for designers, 99designs began with a group of designers who were competing together to create the best designs. In 2008, that friendly competition grew into a design marketplace that has now become the world leader in online graphic design. 99designs is changing the lives of designers around the world by providing them with an opportunity to access customers globally, to earn income, and to build their portfolios. 99designs has operations in Oakland, Melbourne and Berlin.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
I’m the CEO and President of 99designs.com. What I enjoy most in my role is the opportunity to be the champion and chief cheerleader of such an amazing collection of people that makes up our business. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction watching people personally or professionally grow, do meaningful work and ultimately seeing them chasing their dreams…. and I get to do this at global scale. Be it the team at 99designs who I’ve helped grow from 10 - 120+ employees across 3 continents, watching folks go from interns to managing global teams. To our designer community who we’ve helped earn over $200M in 190+ countries, building careers of their dreams from wherever they call home. To the 500,000+ customers we’ve helped bring a new business or project to life through access to great design.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
We’ve done a great job over the last 10 years building the world’s best and most recognized design contest-based marketplace for graphic designers. The majority of our customers come through word of mouth and are using our design community for brand identity and logo design. Our biggest challenge in 2018 is to develop widespread awareness that 99designs is a great place to find and meet a designer for any graphic design based project and then work with them directly and on an ongoing basis on our platform. Our design community is exceptionally talented and produce amazing work across so many styles and design categories and we need to do a better job of showcasing and promoting this and helping our customers and designers establish meaningful ongoing relationships.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
The first and foremost piece of business advice I would give my younger self would be: “Everything will be ok and work out just fine. Believe in yourself and your team – with focus anything is possible!”
On a more practical level, I would also remind myself that markets with competition and established players are ripe for disruption - so don’t shy away - tackle them head on and come up with a better solution. Work hard to really understand the problem that customers are looking to solve and test ideas and solutions as fast as possible with real users.