Market Insights | Resources

20 Tips From Successful Pros On How To Run a Interior Design Business

May 05, 2022 | Mahbuba Ahad

There are many challenges to becoming a successful interior design business. As an inspiring interior designer looking for those who are thriving for newcomers but also for myself to getting insight through podcasts as Chairish a well know home décor, furnishing company covers all aspects of the design industry on all crucial features in the business, with some of the most leading interiors, architects and manufactures producer on their experiences of marketing and challenges faced with change in time.

1. Is social media our key resource?-  Over the years social media has been changing, so as designers is it important for them to use this resource to help evolve with the time to finding new and innovative ways for their business. Social media has many ways of moving forward, to using Facebook to Instagram and TikTok, as some young generations are more influenced with popularity of these medias, this gives an opportunity to give more creative outlet with these different techniques as for designers would want to market their lives, behind the scene of their work to engage their potential clients. 

Blogging & social media platforms - Most interior designer used blogging as a starting point to telling the journey which has more depth, as well as using Pinterest that gives an overall look of an aesthetic to create as oppose to Instagram, looking for inspiration, following, connecting to other business as well as collaborating, a dynamic way to communicating with your followers and clients, a glimpse of an everyday life of a designer and their work process. This is helpful to not only sharing your creativity and projects but also seeing what are people like about your post, the style which helps give an idea of what they need but although Instagram has its way of influencing to design your own space with purchases, as designers it’s our role to make them make better choice, saving, educating them what is best. 

Aspects of social media-  A website is one of the top business platforms as it’s the centre of finding the information and links, it is crucial that we are keeping up with all these platform, updating, sharing videos, post, projects as social media gives a wide range of showcasing your creativity it’s a way of expanding from your starting point to, your able to see the personal and business side and what your values are, your personality to building unique, interesting and engage what it is that your passionate about creating to enjoying putting out content.    2. Production in a designer's career -  There are many opportunities and experiences for designers to challenge their creativity. Working on a set gives their clients or future customers to view a raw visual of the entire design process in a project but also the characters as an individual, as a team to build trust and understanding of how their business works. Even though the recognition and growth is for your business the work environment can be difficult as there is a set time and budget restriction not allowing natural course as productions have limits which makes the thinking process different, you have time to think and plan out space as oppose to a set to reacting quickly. Building your brand in such a way, is making sure the commitment, smart decisions and direction is important to letting people know who you are, people finding out who you are, making effort to grow and keeping up with what it is that you want to share or to come across through social networking and media platforms.             

3. Interior design becoming sustainable? - Sustainability is a strategic imperative over the years but also can be ‘demoralizing’ as designers are becoming more conscious about the environment as they are still wanting to be keeping up with trends as to welcoming changes. There are 22 million tons in the UK that go to the landfill every year and 12 million in the US, 80% of it goes to landfill but only 0.3% of chemical waste was repaired for recycling but most aren’t sustainable. Designers can use vintage pieces and antiques locally to reduce shipping but to understand, asking questions what goes in the furnitures chemicals or healthy materials, this is another way to getting in contact with designers that are able to donate furniture that will keep a good partnership but also inspiring and influencing manufacturer to join this path, a way of spreading resource that can building a collective furniture warehouse that we can collaborate together from reselling locally to reupholster, artisan pieces.           

4. Design making a change - Design industry isn't as involved and supportive giving back to the community. As we are able to have a talent of creativity and to help services shows the passion of design and unity, whether it’s through social media to getting the message across, volunteering, showing and connecting with organisations to make a difference.

5.  Creative time - Running your own business can be stressful, there are many ways to deal with pressure and what can be done in order to get tasks done in a calm manner. 

  • Time management is crucial to be able to prioritise work schedule, keeping on track of meetings, vendors and clients but where does it leave designers for creative planning. 

  • Hiring a team with a strong skill set that can handle a designated task in different departments of accountant, office manager etc to help keep on top of these areas for a well functioned firm. Being organised and supportive brings more growth and equality in the team. 

  • For a small business starting up finding sources, information on brand building and people who have skill backgrounds in various areas such as website design and management so that the experience and moment is more enjoyable for you and your client’s as distributing workload is being handled in a well organised manner. 

6.  Online Marketing effective- Online marketing is efficient in creating engaging content and more accessible to our consumers, there are many plans for the digital marketing to SEO strategy and email marketing in order to keep up with our customers. Instagram is one of the main tools to get the word across to creating relations with craftsman, constructors. A touchpoint to connecting with our clients as a look inside of our personality, ideas through your ways and thoughts. 

Digital strategy for new designers - New coming designers need to be clear what their attentions are and goals. A blog and website gives more depth   through social media platforms, a view of what inspires them, interacting and accessing to founders building on with what you have, a balance of creativity with salesmanship.

7. What it takes to be a national brand- What can designers do to become a national brand!  Building on your portfolio as well as a brand with product lines, that can bring public awareness through social trade platforms to high market profit which benefits to expanding in your career. This will help engage appropriate businesses to collaborate with license marketing and manufacturers with what works and criteria they are going into that are willing to partner with businesses that have opportunities that are driven to looking at relationships of traders. 

How can designers elevate your brand?-Analysing the right market place that will help reach out and connect with stronger designers and learn from other designers growing together as younger designers think on resources and long-term direction to team branding with more qualified experience.  Designers like Kate Verner and Diana Mosher “help brands succeed” as they “provide media strategy for the best designer, interior firms and manufacturer”. With their knowledge of product design and business management this will help potential designers to grow through these strategies.   

8. Small Business- Approaching new talents through trade shows, showroom and fair gives a opportunity not only to small businesses but for larger companies getting inside on variety of skills and style as well as creating connections and reaching out to business of craftsman give a unique style to the space, finding great work to elevate these handmade pieces as artisans are becoming more popular understanding narrative that will broaden your audience directing to ecommerce site through the website. Exploring small business helps find value pieces and attract collaborative products emerging and learning together innovative ideas, concepts to reach out and support in the design community. 

Online & offline advertisement 

  • Local sponsorship - connecting and reaching out to potential businesses with strong championship being informed by word of mouth  

  • Print advertisement- publishing your work on magazine brings recognition from your community

  • Networking offline - a personal opportunity that will expand on your connections with potentials  

  • Social media- one of the most popular platform to use, Instagram, Youtube ads, Facebook

  • Email marketing - through digital and postal is affect a way of creating content graphically such as leaflets.

    9.  Guide to the media - Finding ways to revolutionise promoting, finding clients and selling products. There are many approaches to get your message across through social platforms and websites that will attract more content instead of social media, a goal to get more algorithms that will keep on top. Personal interaction is another way to bring engagement as an insight of a designer’s life that gives followers more personality to the content as well as visuals, connecting with our clients in different ways that allows both parts to reach out.

10.  The effect of public relations - Public relations helps communicate and resonate with potential clients but also followers to help reach out to a wider audience gaining recognition but teaching clients that there’s a broad range of publication and social media platforms to getting across what you intend to create and putting out to the world, to creating something that is impactful as there are many strategy to do so whether its blog post, articles and events to representing yourself showcasing the creativity for opportunity for the brand also for consumers, as there’s a lot more that can be done not only just projects. Investing in your brand to be more consistent with imagery and the core business process, as well as hiring millennials have a better ability to work naturally into social media and want to target as this builds more loyalty and trust of the brand capability.

11. Design to prints - Prints can be a great way to approach locals as well as being more effective at taking in information than reading online.  but also, designers showing brands different ways of advertisement to try out layers of producing, selling profitable creativity. Some brands come across from prints, extending marketing strategy, a way to approach advertisement as for building brand recognition that leads to a website and exploring more about the company.

12. Managing delays and disruptions - Organising data and managing delays will help to give a better customer experience. Ways of finding creative solutions in these situations, it’s important for us to have structure in the areas of stock, delivery, work schedule that will help less stress and stable outcome as well as taking charge and demands to these situations that results in better quality and cost that can make you prepared for coming delays and disruptions.

13. Talent in the industry- Find and retain talent. Keeping a candidate that matches the skills for the firm’s requirement that can handle under pressure, meeting deadlines on projects. Managing the relationship of newcomers, how they interact with everyone and clients but also the ones who have been with the business since the beginning can make a work environment full of growth and support for one another. Communicating and listening to every individual need as well as the firms need therefore the impact on staff is just as important as our work to maintain that with a well-structure. Finding new talent through LinkedIn, reaching out to graduates that have high expectations to a major step in their career with background and experience. Finding talent that will be beneficial in the long run, business growth and value long term relationship to newer members to the team adjusting to getting the teams input which will help invest in the future that will bring more opportunity but encourage engaging new talent in the industry.

14. Clients Relation – dealing with clients can be difficult as well as challenging, as social media is improving, clients are becoming more knowledgeable in sourcing through entertainment media, ecommerce platforms and social media which gives them a lot of access, ideas, imagery which make them think “they can do our job”. It's our role to set priority and boundaries, a way to navigate the projects between the client and designers on what we have, how we run our business as well as setting out of work hours that will give you a balance. It’s important that we cooperate with their ideas but listening will bring more creativity which helps facilitate what they want and establish your role and clients. 

15. Starting from the regionals - Integrity, care and quality through publication from social media to websites increases more attention to your work, the support and respect you receive showcasing the ground where it started, such as regional editors taking a look at the background of growth, there’s more connections to people that gives value and loyalty for brands. Communicating with the design community as well as small business helping to get more involved with networking making sure all details are out will celebrate that growth. Magazines get more in touch with your audience and locals as that's your first starting point, you connect with your local community that you have built a foundation of work which you are gaining recognition from your state of region that will spread the word across and  elevate your business.  

16. Is further education needed? -  Is it important and worth going to, as well as making your way into the design industry to understand the business how it operates, it is a major part to gain knowledge of software, modeling such as vectorworks, cad, photoshop, perspective drawing which is a very key skill to learn. Attending a high level of education gives you experience on what the industry requires, what the work task would be, for example presentations which helps gain confidence and knowing how everything can be structured from start to finish on a project which can prepare you from what you have taken in to manage in the real world. Although there are self-taught designers the experience tends to be different for the work environment, being taught by experienced tutors that have a background of what it's like out there as learning the principle is crucial in a fast paste, mastering to thinking fast and visualising. 

High level education & learning in design- There are many ways to get an education in design whether it's apprenticeship, internship and design school. You're still giving yourself the knowledge and experience even though the environment is different but all aspects and information in the business gives you a good starting point to knowing all the details through books and programmes. Having a degree or taking courses as interior designers and architects are most likely to get employed due to the knowledge, ideas and creative talent built but also training and learning from professionals. 

17. Home fashion-  Fashion is one of the biggest inspirations to home design with colour schemes, textiles and a broad range of creative collective information and ideas. There are many designer brands with homeware lines such as Ralph Lauren which is an interesting insight on their achievement of fashion and interior design even though the two businesses are different the work and investment you put in will bring collaboration. you’re showing your authenticity in your work that you won't find anywhere else that goes to small designers, more opportunity from these to create a personal environment. Exploring fashion gives a collaborative way to get inspired from others the energy and elements that brings a broader choice and experience in home fashion. 

18.  Balance between clients and designers -Communication between the clients and designers is important to building a relationship with potential clients. The trust and loyalty to understanding and knowing our potential customers, so that projects work successfully in the process both ways, not breaking the professional side to the business relationship. Young designers need to work on negotiating with clients, what works for their business what are their goals as well as focusing on business aspects financially, reassuring what feels best for you starting a business

19.  Quality and thinking longer- Considering change and natural disaster along the way, becoming more aware of global warming as interior and fashion contributes to consumers in raw materials and waste. Home furnishing has risen up high in the ecommerce resale market, as the environment, people and brands are changing making better choices for the long run, sustainability, second hand, vintage products a one of a kind. There are more value and benefits for customers to growing awareness of quality in reused furniture, antiques and fashion aspects, a way of expressing your creativity through the style side and useful impact, finding the balance of engagement and bringing attention.

20.  Present and past- Design has changed over time as to changes in skills and inspirations of others creativity to adapting with fresher ideas but the cycle of design always goes back around. Past design has a way of coming back to the present day that can be altered but also to embrace the authenticity of then to now.

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