Starting a new business is always a little daunting, regardless of the industry but when you are working with creatives – like interior designers, it can be a little more of a struggle. Suddenly you are not only designing but also trying to manage staff, deal with accounts, resolve customer queries and trying to grow.
It can be a lot to wrap your head around, so we have put together some tips for you to make the transition easier, so that you can succeed.
Do not underestimate the power of a support team. It is not possible to do everything in your business. Ellie Cullman, cofounder, Culman & Kravis has this advice. “I would also recommend hiring a bookkeeper to handle the paperwork as it can be a very tedious process which you do not want to devote your time to when you should and could be out shopping for your clients.”
Focus on what you are good and let your support team do what they are good at.
Making sure your branding is on point is an essential part of your business. A well-thought-out logo with professional images helps people to take you seriously! Before you start sharing your brand with the world, take the time to get it right!
Some advice from Drew McGukin, Drew McGukin Interiors “Elevate your images to something professional or don’t post in your feed. Build your brand via Stories or other media, then tag back to a professionalized IG grid even if it’s meager in the beginning. And no goofy headshots. Be direct, elegant, and professional.”
Dealing with Growth
When you start a business, you want to it grow, but did you plan for that growth? This is a mistake many entrepreneurs make; they forget to plan for their business to succeed. As your business grows you will start to take on more staff, you might need bigger offices and all this needs to be managed properly in order for your business to succeed.
“The key that has kept me (for the most part) from firing employees, but has also helped when hiring, is setting expectations from the beginning. You have to make each team member accountable. This has taken me a lot of practice, but when I delegate something to someone, I give them a completion date, and remind them I am letting it go and won’t check on it until it’s completed on that date. Of course, mistakes are made; however, it’s part of letting go and growing your business.” —Shaun Smith, founder, Shaun Smith Home
Managing client relations
Without clients there is no business. Managing client relations is probably one of the most important things you need to do as a business owner.
Miles Redd, cofounder of Redd Kaihoi has this advice on dealing with customers.
“Be responsive. I rarely let an email sit for more than five hours if I can help it—unless it comes in late at night. I think that sense of urgency is a key to my success, really. People ask me that all the time and I just say, ‘Answer the telephone.’ Not that people call anymore, but back in the day you could always get me on the phone. I wasn’t afraid of it. That’s the key: responsiveness.”
Outsourcing for growth.
Success doesn’t mean doing everything on your own. In fact, the opposite is true – knowing when, and who, to outsource to, is the key to success.
“You need to learn about all parts of running the business, but quickly decide what to outsource. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel.” Says Steve McFadden, founder Flourish Spaces. He goes on to say “Keep yourself open to learning from other industries. I have a friend who is starting a PR firm and I learned a lot of things [from her] that I could apply to my design business. Cast a wide net, be curious, and adapt to what works for your market and your clients.”
Be transparent in billing
Be open and transparent with your clients when it comes to billing. Make sure they understand exactly what they are paying for and why they are paying for it. Explain markups and costing to them and avoid billing that is vague and unclear. If clients do not understand where their money is going, they are going to be more hesitant to spend it.
Managing growth in your start up business
When you are planning to start your own design business, make sure you have a plan for when you start to grow. If you aren’t on top of your growth, it can end up destroying your business.
When it comes to starting your own business Frank De Biasi, founder, Frank de Biasi Interiors had this to say “If anyone asks what they need to start their own design firm, I’d say they aren’t ready to start their own design firm! They should spend at least five years learning the ropes about real design and decorating with actual clients with fully developed schemes and not just buying pretty things online.”
On managing staff
“It’s important to find good people that you trust and who care about the brand. I try to recognize, fairly compensate, be inclusive, and stress how much of it is a team effort and how it’s not just me. It’s everyone.” Miles Redd, cofounder, Redd Kaihoi
There will come a point in your business where you need to hire staff and you need to get it right! If your team aren’t committed to your standard of work the relationship will not work out and could do repetitional damage to your brand. Spend time finding the right people for the job and make sure they are treated fairly and compensated well for what you need them to do.