How To Start An Interior Design Business: 15 Steps To Launch
15 Mins Read
November 10th, 2021
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Interior Design Business
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Interior design is a work of art. Sure it may not be about picking up a brush or a guitar, or any conventional art form that we revere but putting together an entire house to reflect the personality of the homeowner is nothing short of talent. When you have an innate gift from God to do something better than everyone, you cannot let it go to waste.
Most interior design firms hire these talented artists because they see more potential in them than the interior designers do in themselves. While working for a firm offers exposure and definitely first-hand knowledge into the interior design industry, there is more to it.
If you have the talent and the confidence to make it on your own, then do it. Create a viable business plan and start your own interior design business to show the world what you’re really capable of. These days, entrepreneurs all but grow on trees. If they can do it, so can you.
Of course, there is a bit of planning and a requirement to work out the kinks of a startup. That’s what we are here to help you do. Today, we will discuss the steps you need to take in order to launch your small business and take it to new heights. We will lay out the plan so you can live your dream.
Are you ready?
Read also – 10 Essential Tools for Interior Designers
Image Credit: krofficeinteriors.com
Now, before we move on to the steps, we just want to share one thing. If you’ve come this far seeking a way to launch your own interior decorating firm then you already recognize your potential. Don’t turn back. We understand that inaugurating a new business can be scary and make you feel off-balance but if something scares you, that means you want it badly. It is only the fear of failure that’s blocking you, not your talent.
Use these steps and tips to methodically fulfill your dreams despite what society or your fear might be telling you. So, let’s get started:
If you have the opportunity to work with an already established interior design firm before you start your own business then take the opportunity to build your portfolio. Select the best and most outstanding design projects you have ever created and put them into a presentation format.
If, on the other hand, you are a fresh new graduate with an excellent eye for design but no former experience, you can use software programs. Foyr Neo is a personal favorite to several interior design professionals and students alike due to its user-friendly interface and cloud-based platform. Use the technology they offer to your advantage.
You can select different layouts and build a portfolio of your design ideas. You can even create mood boards and 3D presentations to impress new clients with your design work.
A portfolio is what potential clients will see before they hire your interior design services. Therefore, you need to put your best foot forward and plan it out precisely.
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Every interior designer has a personal style and themes that they prefer. Maybe you like modern architecture and design, perhaps you’re inclined towards classic combinations of elegance and antiques, or maybe you are good with wicker and rustic themes.
It is important to identify your unique selling point; the design style you excel at that no one else can touch you with a ten-foot pole.
Create new interior design ideas to dominate a floor plan that design clients find most attractive. You don’t have to delve into every design style if they don’t appeal to you. Identifying your USP will help find the right target market, thereby making you a success in your own right.
Read also – 20 Common Interior Design Mistakes To Avoid
Interior design software programs are your new best friends. Find one that is easy to use and offers multiple horizons to explore.
Foyr Neo is the top-rated interior design software that offers different floor plans to choose the square foot of a layout an array of color palettes, furnishing, mood boards, and templates. You can create a new interior design on a cloud-based platform, which means you will always have access to them even if your computer breaks down or you lose your phone. The software also offers 3D models and visualization that helps design clients envision all your design work in real-time scenarios.
Use these techniques to create mind-blowing design work with a clear vision. Once you master the interior design software programs, you can build anything your client desire with finesse and appeal.
Read also – How To Learn Interior Design Software?
As we have said before, you don’t need to cater to the overall market. Choose your interior design services based on what you excel at.
If you are good at designing commercial buildings then offer services applicable to office spaces. If you’re good at home decorating then you can render services for residential properties. If you so choose, you can even offer to decorate a church or an event venue.
Once you identify the type of properties, select the services that you are best at designing. Perhaps you have a list of custom furniture designers or deck and landscaping experts at your beck and call. Maybe you are well-connected with art dealers and auction houses. Maybe you have a solid repertoire with furniture stores that offer unique pieces. Or perhaps, you’re connected to them all.
Offer the services that you know you can do better than all your competitors. Although you can delve into an overall design scheme, your personalized services will speak mounds of your talent.
Read also – 15 Problems Most Interior Design Business Faces
Now, we come to the execution part. This is where you need to start your business in full swing.
Ask yourself, do you need an office space in a commercial building or do you want to start at a scaled-down level in the beginning?
If you’re starting your new business with no external aid or former experience, you can always begin your design work in your home office. Clients won’t mind visiting your home office, especially if it provides a glimpse of what you’ve done with the space in your own home. It subliminally reflects personal dedication.
If, on the other hand, you prefer an office space in a commercial building then keep in mind, you have to pay rent and utilities, so, plan accordingly.
If your business plan is flawless then no one cares where you set up shop as long as you render top-notch interior design services.
This is an important aspect of any business. You need to select a name that will not only clue ideal clients about your excellence but also reflect your personality.
A lot of designers tend to use their own name to build a brand, which shows confidence and sets them apart from their competitors. Other interior design professionals choose business names that represent a faceless brand. This is also a welcome technique if you plan on hiring designers and expanding your horizons as business owners.
The name of your business is pivotal because when you apply for credit cards and financial aid, it helps separate the commercials of your business from your personal account. The stakeholders will partake in financials when you expand. However, if you use your own name, the line between professional and personal tends to cinch considerably.
If you’ve selected your business name, register it. You don’t want competitors beating you to the punch. This registration is a precursor to what comes next but before that, don’t forget to print out business cards.
A business card tells the client at a glance that you have established a legitimate operation with a genuine business email and a location of operations. You can add your business contact along with important links embossed on the card. Soon you’ll know the true purpose of the card too, we promise.
Read also – How To Become An Interior Designer?
Image Credit: 1800businesscards.com
Once you have the business name in place, you need to apply for a license. No trade is valid without an authentic business license whether you work from the comfort of your own home or in a startup office space. Trust us when we say that the sum you invest in licensure is thrifty compared to the huge fines you’ll have to pay if the IRS comes knocking.
So, to get started, you need to register your business name and apply for a license. You probably already have an interior decorating license from the board but this is a trade license. They are very different.
Your license to practice allows you to legally work for any firm and offer your exquisite insight. However, a trade or business license registers you as an independent business owner or a company that is allowed to transact financials separately in the name of the brand. Your personal finances have nothing to do with it.
The business license is also further proof to potential clients that you are legit and won’t run away with their down payments leaving them high and dry. It also allows you to participate in trade shows and exhibitions where you can seek new clients and customers.
Every brand needs an online presence. It is the face of the company that any interested party is going to see before they approach you.
Now, we have discussed making a portfolio presentation. However, if you think about it, not all design clients will offer you the opportunity to share a PPT file or a large book. You can’t even carry that binder around wherever you go and you may inadvertently lose potential clients in the process.
We have a solution to that.
Build a website. Use your business name as the domain and create your online presence on the World Wide Web, which is literally accessible worldwide.
When you have a website at the ready, there is more than one way to impress clients with your innate talents and design eye. You can simply hand over your business card with the website address. Clients will find your approach non-aggressive and professional.
There on, it is up to them to check out your website and discover your services for themselves. A well-built website reflects the business owner’s attention to detail and their ability to design just about anything.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a new website with servers and online securities, you can simply opt for some of the free or low-cost options available. There’s WordPress which offers various templates and fonts along with multiple pages or you can opt for other similar options. Once you have the finances to support it, you can make the website independent for a small fee.
The best part about these website builders is they use shared server systems thus reducing your overhead technical costs.
You can design the website however you like. They can reflect your design work while subliminally influencing clients to hire your interior decorating business for their specialized needs.
Read also – Client Presentation for Interior Designers
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You need to have a definitive price in mind for your design services.
Start by determining a flat fee. This is the amount that you will charge for consultations, whether or not the client moves ahead with the design project. It is a sort of insurance so clients don’t consult with you for free, get the required information, and then turn around and hire cheaper designers who will execute your plan. You get paid for any services rendered including a simple consultation.
Next, you have the variable charges. These are highly reliant on the amount of work that needs to be done, the crew you will hire, the acquisition of various raw materials, furniture, etc., and the labor time.
Lastly, you need to have a set design fee. This is again contingent on any altercations that the client may raise after you start the design process. It keeps your business protected against losses.
You can print out a tariff for all the components of your design fee and let the clients decide for themselves. Think of it as a filter wherein you don’t waste precious time with potential clients who are on the fence or simply window-shopping. It will help save time to address the issues of ideal clients with who you can share mutual benefits wherein you do the work and they provide references for more projects.
Read also – Pricing Strategy for Interior Designers
Your target market makes for ideal clients. You need to identify what kind of demographics you want to cater to.
If your design style focuses on exquisite antiques and elegant designer pieces, then your target market is high-end. If you want to target the middle-class population then your design work must include beautiful woodwork and pleasant aesthetics at a fair price.
The target market also helps you determine what kind of network you need to build and your design fees.
Networking is the root of success for all businesses alike. Interior design is no exception.
Build relationships with real estate agents and websites for recommendations. Their clients are always looking for interior decorators so, make sure you are on top of their list.
Subsequently build good relations with people working at art galleries, antique auction houses, furniture designers, suppliers for raw materials, and other items that you know you will need to execute your design plans. These connections will help you acquire the necessary materials, wall art, and home decor as per your client’s expectations.
If you wish, you can always make a profit in these regards while bringing your client’s vision for their dream home to life.
Also, build relationships with architectural firms and contractors. You can not only land huge projects but also hire an efficient labor force at a reasonable cost based on your client’s budget.
Another important aspect of networking is to secure new clients. You never know where you might come across someone looking for a home remodel. You can simply hand them your business card with the company profile and website for further discussions.
Read also – Best Interior Design Communities
Image Credit: pinterest.com
Now that the basics of your business are set up, consider the manpower. Do you believe you can handle the entire design process unilaterally or do you need staff?
You can always start by yourself or with a small team who can help you with the design work and execution. If you’re not well-versed with technology, you may need to hire someone who can develop the website with appropriate security.
Then there is accounting. It is ideal to hire someone who is professionally equipped with thorough knowledge in bookkeeping. There are several apps that can simplify the process too so if you wish to create a one-man army then perhaps look into these applications.
New business owners have to wear several hats at the beginning for their company to gain recognition. If you can learn all the processes yourself, then do it. Otherwise, you can hire staff.
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No one is going to come knocking at your door unless you put in the hard work. You need to develop an efficient marketing strategy and deploy several promotions.
The start of a new business is when you need to hustle. Put in the long hours to plan, strategize, and do the work. Socializing with friends for entertainment needs to take a back seat when you want to establish your brand.
Just keep up your work till you can hire other people to manage the quirks. Even then, don’t stop hustling if you want your business to be successful.
Once you have one or more satisfied clients, ask for testimonials to post on your website. The feedbacks help other clients determine whether or not you are the right fit for their interior design needs.
Another thing is, a new business flourishes on ‘word of mouth.’ Don’t shy away from requesting satisfied clients, friends, family, potential network, and in general, people you know for referrals. They can recommend your business to other people and the simple idea of having someone endorse a brand they know goes a long way into enticing potential customers. It plays on human psychology that if someone is commending your work that means there is value to it.
These days, having an online presence for a brand is more important than the brand itself.
People are constantly seeking validation, reviews, and quality control from strangers. Use this to your advantage by building a constant presence across social media channels and blog posts.
For starters, the blogs go on the website. This is a place where you can share the basic concepts of interior design, the need to customize one’s home space, design tips, and just about anything else that you like. Make sure that the blogs are related to your business though and use appropriate SEO keywords.
The reason for this move is to make sure that whenever a client uses search engines to look for various interior design businesses, your website remains in the top searches. It is a marketing strategy that requires minimal costs.
Next, you must accumulate a few design ideas and create a series of social media posts. These serve to remind potential clients that you’re still the top designers in your business. You can also opt for social media promotions to attract new clients from other regions. These social media channels optimize the protocols as per the demographics of your target audience and pop up on their screen when they least expect it. However, they serve to entice clients into considering a remodel for their home or office, or wherever else they need a change.
The steps mentioned above will definitely get you where you want to go but you must remember, your business only succeeds when you put more than what you got. Business owners, especially startup owners need to hustle. Don’t look at the time, look at your revenue and what you have to offer.
The bottom line is, if you do your best, we promise, you will soon achieve more than you dreamed of. However, none of that matters unless you get started. So, take that first step and start already.
You know the secrets. There’s nothing stopping you now.
Using Foyr Neo is as easy as 1, 2, 3. First, upload a floor plan or create one from scratch. Then drag and drop from over 60K 3D models to fill your rooms. Lastly, just set the shot and let the AI create stunning 4K renders for you in less than 10 minutes.Start your 14-day free trial
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