Starting a business is far from easy. But if you’re thinking of starting an interior designing firm, then you’re in luck because you won’t be the first to do so. This means that you can learn from the mistakes and successes of pioneers in the industry like Cutler Interior Design Firm when they were in your shoes. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you and compiled some advice from experts in the field.
To start off, get a tax ID and a license for your business. Thereafter, make sure you have an accountant, software for design management, and an efficient invoice system. It is also important that you include tax filing under the job scope of your accountant right from the start if you want to avoid wasting time on sifting through years of scattered information down the road.
Once you got those down, you should engage a lawyer who has experience in the field since charges and brokerage are central to the interior designing business. Finally, hire a clerk who can handle all the paperwork for you so that you can fully focus on attracting clients.
Since there is no fixed way of calculating how much a designer should charge, you should base it on how much you think your design is worth. Once you quote a price, stand firm on it and the deadline for payment. Placing orders before the full payment is made leads to nothing but confusion on your end. To save yourself any major trouble, be transparent and firm with your billing practices.
Creating a brand and setting goals
Branding is not just about the company logo, business cards, stationeries, etc. Nowadays, it is more about the appeal of the firm website and social media platform. You want to make sure that customers can pay easily and quickly through the website. It is also equally important that you only show work that is done well and indicates professionalism. It’s better to not have any work displayed than have work that is subpar plastered all-around your website and social media. The Instagram account should be professional as it is after all a business account and not your personal one.
Setting goals not only keeps you forces you to keep track of your progress but also keeps you going when things get tough. Once you’ve reached one goal, set a new one, and keep going.
Handling business developments
It an art to learn when to manage and when to let go. To grow a business, you need to first build a skillful team. From there, you have to trust in your employees as micromanaging will not get you far. Keep a small role but be decisive and swift in making decisions.
Running a business while being a full-time designer really pull you in opposite directions. A lack of foresight and planning will lead to a loss of creativity and productivity. You can anticipate business and administrative matters and do the work first so that you can design freely and not be constrained by the business side of things.
Nowadays, there is more supply than demand for designers. So unless you’ve had the experience working with clients before and have gone through actual designing hardships, don’t start a designing firm. If you’re ready to start one, you will know.
Successful designers are all aware of their strengths and designing beliefs which allow them to promote their business accurately and pick clients that they can help the best. Picking the right clients can also save you time and energy and build up your experience.
Part of their success also comes from being responsive. Having a sense of urgency in responding to emails and phone calls is vital to running a business. Being responsive also includes preparation of the paperwork which has every information clients would want to know. You should also be ready to quote the deposit which would depend heavily on the vendor.
Showing sophistication and professionalism in both your work and client communication platforms is what some successful designers claim to be the deal-breaker for clients. Even personally writing a note to thank your clients can make them your long-time customers. For Drew McGukin, that was what led to the closing of many deals and forming of solid rapport with some of the long-time patrons of Drew McGukin Interiors.
Externalization of some functions
Although we said to outsource some operations like bookkeeping, it might benefit your business more if you learned a thing or two about the operation first. That way you will know when the numbers don’t seem to add up and alert of a potential problem. Aim to externalize operations that are not your forte so you have more time and energy for those you’re good at.
Not only should you keep an open mind to learning from seniors in the business, but you should also be open to learning from other industries. After all, nothing you learn is wasted.
You have to be transparent in billing practices not only to keep clients pleased but also to satisfy your vendors. Honesty is the best policy. It is a good practice to tell your clients the discounts (or lack thereof) that the vendors have given and the prices and cost-plus if any. Specificity allows all parties to know exactly what they are offering or getting. And if your vendors and clients are happy, so will your business be.
A good team consists of trustworthy individuals who feel responsible for the brand. Giving employees a sense of ownership in their assigned projects will allow them to care more for your brand and not just getting the job done. While ownership is important, task specificity is vital as well. Give your employees the liberty to express their creativity but set a deadline and stick to it. Make your level of involvement known as well so that employees know what they are responsible for.
Mistakes can happen, often due to miscommunication, so don’t be too stingy with forgiveness. There are a myriad of communication platforms these days and information can come from everywhere, sometimes all at ones. So it is important to set some expectations for employees such as including yourself in all emails or just sticking to one platform for internal communication. And if mistakes still occur, and they will, its best to solve it and not dwell too much on it. Otherwise, you will never get things done.
Starting a business is no easy task, especially a business that requires such high levels of creativity and freedom of expression. Takes things one step at a time while having your long-term goals in mind. Learn as much as you can along the way so that you grow along with your business.