When I started my home based interior design business in Moscow I was running around like a chicken without head trying to figure out how to make it profitable and find my clients. I never run a business before so I knew very little about how things work and lost so much time and money investing them in things which were absolutely useless for me. The first year was the hardest one especially because I had to deal with my own fears and self-doubts.
However if you put lots of effort you will definitely see the results, and when you see the results it is already impossible to stop. So if you launching your own interior design business from scratch, don’t be scared, just do it and here are some hints which you might find useful.
- You need to register your company. Find out license and permits that work in your country and do all necessary administrative stuff. It can seem daunting in the beginning but actually it is a lot easier than you might imagine.
- Create your website. Potential clients will not perceive you as a serious professional if you don’t have a portfolio website to show. If you don’t have budget for paying a web developer, you can go a DIY route and create it using such platforms as Houzz, Wix or Squarespace.
- Put together your portfolio. If you didn’t have chance to work with real clients yet think of the projects you have done in design school and create photo realistic renderings for them. You can renovate your own house or houses of your friends and relatives. If you are good at sketching, display your hand drawings – people usually find them fascinating. Some other ideas for portfolio include moodboards and collages in Photoshop.
- Invest in buying good interior design software and learning it thoroughly. You don’t need to know all interior programs that exist at the moment because there are plenty. Try different and figure out what works best for you.
- Equipment. You will need a good high speed computer, probably a printer (you can always use nearest print store as well), stationaries and that’s pretty much it.
- You will need to prepare your contract. Things to be included:
- Scope of work and what is included in the project
- Time frames – dates when you will submit each stage of a project
- Price and payment terms
- Specify the technical drawings and visualizations you will include
- Number of revisions a client can make
- Way to resolve disputes
- Permission to take photos of the project for portfolio once it is finished
- Prepare client questionnaire. It is a very important document which will serve you as a back up so take it seriously.
- Start your marketing campaign. In order to get your first clients for your interior design business you need to create a bit of a hustle. Register on Houzz and upload your projects, advertise on Facebook, connect with architects and real estate developers, put an ad on local newspaper. Start writing a blog. These and many other effective marketing tools which worked for me are described in my ebook “Marketing for interior designers”:
- Invest in your image. Review your wardrobe – from now on your image is the part of your brand, treat it nicely. In this post I talked about how an interior designer should dress for success.
- Invest in your knowledge. Constantly improve your professional knowledge by taking courses on CAD, sketching, hiring a business coach. Every day make a little step towards becoming more professional and hence more expensive.
I created a short video where I talk about my personal experience of starting a home based interior design business, have a look: