How to Start an Interior Design Business

How to Start an Interior Design Business

What is really great about an interior design business is that you can start with very few overheads. You can begin the business from home. However, you will still have a lot of things to consider and factors to put in place. In this post, we take you through ideas on how to start an interior design business.

Begin small, so you can grow

A really important attitude to have when you start a business in interior design is to begin small, and leave space to develop.

You may have big dreams, but you need to start with what you can manage. Think about the idea of a tree: you don’t plant a full-grown tree overnight, you need to start with a seed and let it grow.

As the designer, you are the key to starting an interior design business. You need to make sure you can cope with the work you are hoping to bring in. If you start too big and can’t keep up with the work, you may end up losing clients. You may also end up eating any profit by outsourcing some of the work.

Work on a business plan

Even if you are aiming to begin a very small interior design business, you will need some form of business plan.

By definition, a business plan is literally a plan according to which you will organize and run your business. It’s like the plans for a house: everything must be considered, factored in and used as a blueprint for the building.

Working on a business plan forces you to consider every aspect of your new business, from what tools you’ll use to sketch designs, to where you’ll house your office.

Take the time to develop a detailed business plan. If you can, take the opportunity to consult a professional. The sounder the business plan, the better the business will thrive.

An essential factor in a business plan is finances.

Understand your finances

Every start up business lives or dies on its money. If you don’t do the math before you even put pen to paper to work out a budget, your business is already doomed.

Do research into every aspect of interior designing. Make sure you know exactly what you’ll need to work as an interior designer. For example, if you are going to go the e-design route, find out exactly what computer you’ll need, with what capacity. Become very familiar with everything about the necessary software.

And price everything as you go.

You must also do research into what it takes to establish and to run a business. What start up costs are there? How much will you need to pay for all the necessary equipment and software? Will the licenses and permits cost?

Ask yourself a thousand questions – and find a cost for every answer. Finally, you can sit down and work out the real costs. Then, you’ll know what your budget needs to be.

I suggest you open a new bank account for your business, even if you are keeping it to a ‘one-man show’. This will allow you to keep all your business expenses separate.

Legal requirements

Just about every business needs some kind of license or permit to operate. Check with your local governmental offices to find out what permits and licenses you may need. You will find that some of the requirements are for businesses in general. There are some areas that require a specific permit for an interior design business.

Develop your own style

When you are working as an interior designer, you will be exposed to a lot of different work. There are many designers out there who produce impressive interior designs.

To be successful, you need to stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this is to develop your own style. Don’t emulate another designer’s work. Rather take note of some ideas or elements that work and see if you can adapt them into your approach to interior design.

Identify your focus

When you work on defining your style, you must decide what you are going to focus on. Don’t try to do everything. You can always expand into other aspects of design as your business grows.

The easiest way to make a choice about keeping your work focused is to design specific rooms or parts of the house. You can, for example, specialize in designing living areas, kitchens or even outdoor spaces.

Choose your method

You will have a particular preference for using either hand-drawn sketches, or you may choose to go the e-design route.

If your clients are in the same town or state as you, then hand-drawn sketches are possibly the better method to use. However, if your clients are further afield, then you can courier the hand-drawn sketches to them. On the other hand, e-design means you can communicate easily with them via email, or a platform like Google docs.

All of these are considerations when it comes to the cost of an interior design business.

Buy what you need

A very important factor of starting an interior design business is to make sure you have everything you need to do the work. This includes basic things like a desk and chair, as well as specialized equipment, such as the necessary pencils.

You will also need things you can’t see, like the correct software for your designs.  Then, there are the more mundane elements, like accounting software and cleaning supplies.

Find the premises

Where will you operate your business from? In the beginning, it may be from home. Where will you meet clients, though? You can go to their houses or offices, but there will be times when they need to come to you.

One option open to you is to convert a room in your home into an office / studio. This would be the perfect place to work and meet clients. You’ll need to find out if you need a permit or license to run a business from home.

It is possible to rent office space on a very short-term basis. This is an option for some of your meetings. Ultimately, though, you will need to find your own premises with spaces for offices and a design studio.

Again, this is a matter of research. Look at listings, consult an agent, or just travel around. As long as you know what you are looking for, you will be able to find it eventually.

Get your brand known

One of the things you need to aim for as an interior designer is to get your look and brand out there. You could begin by designing a room for a friend or family member. If they are satisfied, your friend will recommend your services to their friends.

It would be most effective if the room was a public room in your friend’s house. Then the room becomes almost a showroom for your design, when visitors come to the house.

To keep your costs down at first, make extensive use of social media to advertise your work. The beauty of these channels is that you can post many photos of your work. More than any adverts, or well-written flyers, photos of your current designs will illustrate exactly what you offer.

Once you’ve learnt how to start an interior design business and get yourself on the road, you can explore other options for marketing yourself.