Do you want to start an interior design business? If you’re passionate about interior design and feel your skills could benefit others, starting an interior design business is a fantastic way to transform your career and do something you love. But, you already know that it is never as easy as simply saying you’ve started a business. Many factors go into ensuring success, and even then it is not always guaranteed. 

So, before you update your LinkedIn profile and spend hours considering what shade of white your business cards will be, there are several things you must do to hit the ground running and start your interior design business properly. 

Interior design space planning helps get projects defined before work starts
Image credit: Naphat_Jorjee, via Shutterstock

Find Out If You Need a Business Licence

Some, but not all, businesses will require a business licence. However, in many cases, all you need to do is register as self-employed and begin trading. This will depend on the type of business you are offering. Health and beauty or construction will require a business licence, but this is not the case for interior design in most cases. 

If you are unsure, you can carry out more research by getting in touch with HMRC. they should be able to answer any questions you have regarding business licences and can offer advice about anything else you need to do. Generally, if you consider yourself a freelancer (at least for now) self-employed registration should be enough. 

Know Where You Will Work 

You won’t be able to establish your business if you do not have anywhere to work, but paying for an office space for just one person (at least for now) seems unnecessary. 

Your working space can be anywhere you feel you’ll be most productive. This could be at home, your favourite cafe, or even a co-working space. But, it’s important to keep client meetings in mind. You may not want to bring them to your home, so consider suitable meeting spots nearby. If you are doing virtual consultations, a quiet area such as your home is ideal. 

Have An Online Presence 

An online presence is essential for anyone in the modern world, but if you are starting a business, especially one as visual as interior design, you need to get your name and face into the online sphere. Social media pages, a website, and a detailed professional profile are all essential. You should also create a business page that is separate from your personal account. 

As your business grows, you’ll need to accommodate inquiries from potential clients, so it might be worth learning how to add online chat to your website to answer these questions. This puts you in direct contact with your customers and ensures you don’t miss out on any potential collaborations.  

Show Off Your Skills 

You will struggle to attract clients without a strong portfolio that highlights your skills as an interior designer. However, without clients, you may not have any concrete evidence that you can do everything you claim to do. 

The best way to overcome this is to show off the interior design you have done in your own home. Take photographs of previous projects and post them on your Instagram and other social media pages. These projects don’t need to be permanent, but they will show potential clients what you can do. It may also be possible to do some pro bono work for friends or family.

Learn how to set up an interior design business
Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

Establish Your Niche 

Interior design has many branches. Some designers specialise in transforming entire homes, whereas others focus on specific rooms, such as the bathroom or living room. While it might seem like you are better off casting a wide net, you risk your work being too unfocused. 

Instead, you should establish your own interior design business niche. This should be something you are comfortable with, and it will make it easier for customers who want something similar to find you. Besides the type of areas you work in, consider the type of design, whether traditional, contemporary, abstract, or whatever you feel you’re most capable of achieving.

Highlight Your Process

If you want to ensure you attract clients as soon as possible, highlighting your process is a great way to increase these chances. As someone who does not boast the reputation or goodwill of more established interior designers, you should do everything you can to make your business as appealing as possible. 

You can achieve this by showing transparency. The process should include every step of the design journey, from getting the client’s ideas to plotting ways to implement them to finally realising them in real life. The clearer you are regarding your process, the better your clients will understand what will happen, which can put them at ease and increase their confidence when working with you.  

Network Inside and Outside the Industry 

Networking is essential in all aspects of business, so it should be no surprise that the same applies to interior design. However, some first-time designers will only get in touch with those connected to the industry. While this is beneficial, as it can increase your scope and introduce you to a variety of important people, it also fails to consider how seemingly unrelated people and businesses can benefit you. 

Yes, knowing people who can find you work with high-value clients is great, but what about finding the most impressive accessories, furniture, or paint to make dramatic improvements to any space? If you take the time to build strong relationships with other clients, you can draw from a pool that other interior designers have missed, allowing you to get the best prices and ensure the best results. 

Figure Out Your Worth 

Establishing your hourly rate is always challenging when going freelance or starting a small business. You don’t want to undersell yourself, as you will end up getting too little for the hard work you put in. However, setting your prices too high means that clients will look for more affordable options. Because of this, there is a tricky tightrope you need to walk. 

But, you should never undersell yourself. While you might not have as much experience as others, you may have other skills or qualifications that justify your prices. Generally, start-up interior designers can charge between £30 and £50 per hour, but others may prefer to do it on a project-by-project basis. You can choose which works best for you, and don’t be afraid to adjust your prices as you gain more experience and increase your interior design business reputation.  

Stunning contemporary bedroom interior design scheme
Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

Learn Basic Accounting 

Managing your money is always a tricky part of running your own interior design business, but it’s also essential if you want to avoid charges from the tax people. Knowing how much money you need to put away each month is vital for maintaining your business and keeping things running smoothly. 

But, if you don’t want to deal with the tricky accounting issues, there are outsourcing services that will do the hard work for you. This may not be necessary when working for yourself and by yourself, but it is something to consider as your company grows. 

Understand Who Your Ideal Client Is 

The ideal client will make it easier for you to identify possible customers, and it can save you plenty of time searching through endless applications or postings hoping that you will come across someone worth working with. 

Everyone’s ideal client is different, so don’t expect to find advice that will apply to you when searching for it. Only you know what type of person you want to work with, so it’s important to outline what this person does before you begin marketing your business. If you have a clear idea of who the ideal client is, you will be able to mould your marketing content to appeal to them. 

Market, Market, Market 

New businesses must do everything they can to promote their service. They are already facing an uphill battle, so don’t be afraid to try as many different strategies as possible. 

Both digital and traditional marketing (such as adverts or posters) help your interior design business reach as many people as possible. You can also work with local businesses and even suggest collaborations. If you have an established website, look for ways to market your content to attract people to your website and find out more about your service. 

Luxury interior design by Collov Home Design
Photo by Collov Home Design on Unsplash

Know When to Say No 

It’s tempting to agree to every proposal and job offer when you get started running an interior design business. You want to establish your business as quickly as possible, and you don’t know how long you’ll need to wait before you get another interested client. However, picking bad clients is as damaging as having no clients at all. 

You should find out how to recognise projects that don’t work for you and say no if they come up. Although you don’t need a reason to say no, you might feel like you can’t complete the work within their time frame or you already have other projects on the go. The client may be upset, but you can always suggest that they come back to you when you have more time. 

Designing the Next Stage Of Your Life 

Starting an interior design business can be a risk, but those who fail often do not consider all the minor yet still-essential details that go into running a successful company. As long as you keep these factors in mind when launching your business, you will put yourself in the best position to succeed, and your skills will do the rest of the work for you. 

 

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