It’s true: there is ample competition in the interior design industry. Thanks to the popularity of renovation TV shows and the desire for an Instagram-worthy abode, interior design is ‘in’ right now – and in a big way. The result: lots of people want a beautiful space, and there are lots of designers available willing to provide them with their wishes.
However, this shouldn’t be the end of your own dreams of starting an interior design business.
Yes, you will be up against plenty of competitors – no matter where you’re located – but there’s still room to thrive if you have the necessary drive, instincts, and creative talent. You also need the right plan to get your company up and running – and that’s where this guide can help.
Below are a number of important steps to take on the path to running a successful interior design business.
Table of Contents
Settle on a brand identity
The first step in starting an interior design business is to settle on a brand identity. This brand identity is effectively the foundation for everything else that revolves around your company. As a result, you need to get it spot on – otherwise, the rest of your efforts could end up being in vain.
There are various paths you can take when setting up an interior design company. You could focus on just designing kitchens and living rooms, for example, or you may decide to tackle the entire home. Your location should also play a role in your decision. If you’re based in a place that, say, has a lot of rental properties available, you can tailor your services towards that medium.
Once you have a clear vision, you are in a much better position to understand your audience, target them with your marketing efforts, and boost the overall efficiency – and effectiveness – of your business.
Build your online presence with a website
Marketing is the key for any interior design business – particularly those that are just starting out. You need to get your brand out there, front and center, for potential customers to know you exist. If they don’t see your company, it doesn’t take much to work out that they’ll be using one of your competitors instead.
The first step to building your online presence is with a slick, modern website. This site cannot be crafted on the cheap or with minimal care and attention. After all, it’s a representation of your business. If a visitor lands on your site and sees an unprofessional, slapdash design, that’s not good. First impressions matter.
Your site should be a showcase of your interior design capabilities and past projects. When you’re just starting out, your portfolio will be lacking examples. However, try and include as many as possible – even if it’s only projects you have done around your home. Then as you build up experience and complete other projects, you can add these to your site.
There are other important aspects to add to your site. One of the most important is to ensure you make it clear what type of services you are offering. Is your style based on minimalism? Perhaps you specialize in traditional interiors? By highlighting your services, there’s no confusion, and potential customers won’t be left guessing about your approach to design.
Testimonials should be incorporated into your site content, as this helps to supply proof your business does what it says on the tin. Search engine optimization (SEO) is also necessary so your business shows up in relevant local search results.
Your site should be a showcase of your interior design capabilities and past projects, including wall art on glass that looks very awesome. When you’re just starting out, your portfolio will lack examples. However, try and include as many as possible – even if it’s only projects you have done around your home. Then as you build up experience and complete other projects, you can add these to your site.
Get the right tools
As an interior designer, it’s easy to feel you might not need that much in the way of equipment. However, there are a few tools that are essential for your repertoire, helping you with everything from customer clarification to the design process itself.
One of the most important tools is software that allows you to design 3D models of your interiors. For example, Cedreo provides software for photo realistic renderings, allowing you to visualize designs with lifelike imagery. There’s no guessing what an interior may look like – ideal when you’re putting together a plan for clients. They will know exactly what your proposed design looks like prior to the work commencing.
A measuring tape – both standard and laser – is an obvious addition so you can gain precise interior measurements. A sketchbook helps you to jot down information or create some quick doodles, while a mask and helmet will help keep you protected while doing work. Oh, and once you start receiving more and more assignments, investment in project management software can help you keep track of everything.
Decide on a rate
Potential customers assess various factors before they settle on an interior designer. One of the biggest is the price they will pay. If they don’t feel they are getting value for money from your business, they will pick another option from their shortlist.
As a result, it’s essential you get your rates right.
This requires assessment of the work you do over an entire project. Do you use budget or high-quality materials? How long does a project take on average? What type of overhead do you have to cover? By answering these questions, you have a much clearer picture of the cost incurred for each project. The result: you can set realistic rates that prevent you from being at a loss, while also providing your customers with fair rates.
Get your networking hat on
The right connections can take your interior design business a long way. Suppliers, contractors, recurring clients – all of these can enhance your company in various ways. The finest suppliers open the door to the best-priced materials for your projects. Top contractors guarantee your projects are done to a first-rate standard. Recurring clients – such as a property developer – can give you a steady stream of work.
To network and make these connections, consider attending relevant trade shows. As well as handing out your business cards and building relationships, also use these trade shows to learn from other interior designers.