How to scale your start-up interior design business

premises, connected workplace interior design

Sell yourself

The reason most clients work with you is because they like what they see when it comes to the way you’ve presented your interior design business online or offline. Being able to communicate what it is you do for your clients, how you make their life easier and then providing this with photos of finished client projects all help seal the deal when signing on a new client.

Make sure you are promoting the work you’ve completed, the work you’re halfway through (think design board flatlays and mood boards) and showcasing new trends seen in suppliers showrooms or trade fairs. These are all elements of “proof” you know what you’re doing, you know the struggles a client has prior to engaging a designer and you know how to steer your clients through a design project from start to finish.

Many designers don’t do this and leave a huge air of mystery around the idea of hiring a designer. By breaking down the process you’re able to show clients that it’s not an overwhelming taks nor is it extremely expensive to work with a designer. Many potential clients never make contact with you because they think they can’t afford your services. Show them that’s not the case and they’ll be more open to working with you.

Outsource what you’re not good at

Is there an area of your interior design business you really dislike doing? Or is there a necessary task in the business you loathe doing each month? Maybe it’s web development, maybe it’s bookkeeping or maybe it’s writing Instagram captions.

Now let’s break it down. Most designers charge over $100/hr to design for their clients. Therefore, if you paid yourself your hourly rate to sit and do the task you dislike when it might actually cost you $50/hr for someone who specialises in that task, it would make more sense to outsource someone to do that for you so you have those hours back to work on client projects. Do the maths, as sometimes it’s more expensive for the business owner to do a task than it is to pay a specialist to do it for you. Plus, the professionals are paid to learn to do things quickly and efficiently which will help you scale your business in the long run.

Harness multiple revenue streams

Designers are in a unique position in that they can make money from service fees as well as product sales. This means a designer’s ability to pull revenue from more than one source serves them well at different times of the year depending on what offering is more popular among their clients.

For example, a designer usually knows they have a quiet period over Christmas where clients are less likely to be purchasing sofas and dining tables because they’re off on holidays or spending money on Christmas presents. However, you may have clients wanting to do some interior design for their home once Christmas is over. This means a designer is able to make up for the loss of product sales with their service fees instead.

A designer should plan ahead with budgeting for service and product revenue in the months ahead of the festive season to avoid falling short when the bills come in. Working out what operating expenses you’ll have during those quieter periods will help you budget what to save in advance to tide you over until things pick up post Christmas.