January is a great time of year to take stock and evaluate how you feel about your job and lifestyle goals.
You might be dreaming of a new career.
Maybe you’ve been told by friends and family you’d make a great interior designer?
You’d love to work in interiors and design for clients, but you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?
Sometimes, taking that first step – making the leap can be the hardest. Here we share 9 ways to help you kick-start your interior design business in 2020.
1. Why You?
‘Why you do what you do’ should be the first question you ask yourself when you are planning your own interiors business.
To understand what you are offering and your company ethos will be the basis of all your marketing and promotion. It is vital you understand what value you are offering your (future) clients as this will impact on how you communicate your message.
Ask yourself, why will your clients want to hire you? What benefit will they get if they choose your service?
Writing down your ideas on paper will help. List the benefits to your customer (not the features of your business). For example, “my knowledge of colour theory and skills in choosing colours will help my client get the feel and ambience they want in their home”. A feature might be that your initial consultation session is free.
2. It’s All About the Customer
Now that you’ve sorted out the ‘you’, you need to turn your attention to ‘them’. The client, or potential customer.
Before you do anything else, spend some time on market research. Are there customers in your geographical area or are you offering an online service? Do people really want your service? How do you know? What will they pay for your design skills? How will you reach them and who are these people anyway?
Understanding your customer is absolutely key to running a successful business.
At our Business School workshop, we consider where he/she might live, work, where they spend the weekend, what are their interests, where do they shop, what do they read, whether they’re on social media.
Then we draw an imaginary customer. Have a go at doing this too and you will soon get an idea and an actual picture in your mind (and on paper) of who this mystery customer might be.
The more you know about them, the easier it will be to find them!
3. Name Your Business
Putting a name to your business can be one of the hardest things you’ll have to do! Don’t underestimate how important it is to get your company name just right, so allow plenty of time to do your research.
Your company name should reflect what you do, your company ethos, be simple to pronounce and easy to spell, not used by someone else and then after all that – be available as a domain name!
Take a look at our blog feature on ‘How To Name Your Interior Design Business’ to get some top tips on naming your business and read how some of our students chose their company names.
4. Style Your Interiors Brand
When you feel confident with your business idea, why you do what you do and your company ethos, you can start styling your brand.
As a creative person, venturing into the world of interior design, this should be a really fun and inspiring part of your business journey.
What is a brand exactly?
Some say it’s the personality of your business. Or as Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon famously declared: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”.
We like to think of it as the personality of your business. But how do you get that across to your customer?
Create a Vision Board for Your Business
As you are in a visual business, it’s a good idea to create a vision board for your brand (and this is something our students do at our Design Week).
Pull together any images you feel is a visual interpretation of your company. You’ll soon gather some ideas of colour, look and feel of how you want your business to come across.
Then start playing with fonts and lettering. Are you drawn to a more formal typeface or a more relaxed, handwritten style?
Do your colours say a young, vibrant, fun company or a more traditional, mature and reliable business?
Seeing all your ideas come together on a board will be the start of your branding process.
5. Your Portfolio
At this early stage of launching your business, you may not have a website yet. But you should be able to show a potential customer what you can offer them in terms of design skills and advice.
It might be that you have only styled your own home, or helped out friends and family. That’s fine as long as you have some photographs, a portfolio or access to your own social media account such as Instagram, to show them images of what you have done.
It goes without saying that these images should look as professional as possible and it will help to show a range of different styles and rooms.
6. Your Credentials
If you have an interior design qualification, you should show this on any of your marketing material and with your portfolio.
Now is the time to show off your hard-earned Diploma or Certificate from My Interior Design School so the customer can be reassured of your competence, skills and professionalism.
7. Paperwork at the ready?
Students at My Interior Design School’s Design Week Workshop, will know that we provide numerous templates, client questionnaires and work sheets to help you get ready for running your own interiors business.
If you’re going it alone, make sure you have your paperwork in place to manage your business, before you meet your first client.
Do you know what you will charge your client for example? Have you got your Contract drawn up? Are your Terms and Conditions in place? Have you checked your suppliers and contractors’ paperwork?
Getting organised with your business and financial administrative tasks now, will let you get creative later, when you get your first actual client brief and you need to start designing!
8. Get Out There!
So, you’ve got all your paperwork in hand, you know your customer and you’ve styled your brand. You’re ready to get out there and be instructed by clients!
But don’t fall for the ‘build it and they will come’ myth.
Your customer needs to hear from you. If you have done your research from point 2, you should know where to find them.
Maybe your potential customer is closer than you think. At the school gates even. Or drinking in your local café. Going to a local gym or walking a dog in the park. If so, think about your marketing and how you might reach them. Linked-In may not be the right approach here!
Choose an appropriate way of getting your message out to new clients. Perhaps start one or two social media accounts if you want to attract a national or even international audience.
But remember to measure your marketing activity. It’s not hard to do, if you remember to ask where they heard about you.
9. Now’s The Time
Don’t worry if you’re still not feeling 100% ready to start your interiors business.
Be reassured that you will never be totally ready.
It’s fine to just ‘give it a go’. Just start – perhaps with a soft launch before you invest in a costly website, national advertising campaign, TV ads and billboards across London!
You will learn so much by just starting. Keep listening to your customers and what they want and before you know it, you will soon be running your own successful interiors business.
How We Can Help You ….
If you would like our help to start your own interiors business, we have the perfect course for you.
Our 5-day Design Week + Business School will give you all the skills and confidence you need to launch or grow your own interiors business.
We’ll personally teach you face-to-face, to gain your Diploma and become a qualified interior designer.
If you would like to talk about your plans before enrolling, please call Anne in the My Interior Design School office on (01242) 252 477 today.
We look forward to helping you succeed at starting your own interiors business.
Anne and Rachael, Founders and Directors, My Interior Design School.