5 WAYS TO ENSURE YOUR DESIGN BUSINESS THRIVES

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Why is it that some interior designers are more successful than others? Of course, financial acumen and hiring a team of experts helps. But is there more?

Is there a way to ensure your business profits and thrives year after year?

In my experience working with interior designers, the answer is yes. In fact, there are several ways to increase the odds that your business will succeed. We spoke to four designers who run thriving businesses to get the lowdown on how they stay profitable and successful, year after year. 

Here are the five ways interior designers stay at the top of their game.

 

Networking

Cathy Kert, owner of Cathy Kert Interiors, credits networking with propelling her business forward. While networking is always a good strategy to incorporate into your business, it proved crucial for Cathy after she relocated her business from Nashua, N.H., to Cape Cod. Even though the move wasn’t extraordinarily far, Cathy still had to start from scratch building her network, reputation and clientele. 

“I started networking immediately,” says Cathy. “It gave me the opportunity to connect with people in the community who are vital to my business  – architects, builders and homeowners.” 

Many people dread going to networking events. It wasn’t Cathy’s favorite thing, either, but joining a group that met on a weekly basis helped. “Having a weekly networking group helped me become a more confident and capable communicator. I would advise any business owner to join a group that meets regularly. It not only helps improve business skills, but it allows you to build a network of partners who can confidently refer you,” says Cathy.

Hiring a design-friendly CPA

Paula Kravetz of PMK Designs had a traditional accountant during the first few years of her business. Even though the firm was in close proximity to her office, every time she called she was told her accountant was busy. 

She explains, “I thought it would be too much of a hassle to switch accountants. When my friend recommended I try his accountant (who he referred to as a ‘designer’s dream’), I decided to at least meet with him.” 

Now, instead of waiting for her accountant to call her back, Paula is a running a profitable business. 

“I now work with an accountant who specializes in interior design. We work together to achieve my business goals and plan how to grow and scale. Quirky sales tax issues and other design-specific challenges are solved quickly and efficiently, which allows me to get back to what I love the most… designing!”

Developing their team

Janelle Blakely Photopoulos, owner of Blakely Interior Design, credits developing her team and adding key positions to her staff as having a major influence on her success. “For the first few years in business, I worked alone and had to deal with all of the daily operations. As a mom and an entrepreneur, I knew it was in the best interest of my business and my home life to hire a few key employees.”

One of the first positions Janelle hired was a business manager. “Adding a business manager allowed me to offload the weekly responsibilities of ordering, procurement, tracking inventory and other time-consuming activities. I finally had time to focus the majority of my attention on what I love and do best.”

Janelle also added two full-time designers to her team, which allowed her to take on larger projects than before. “I was able to compete at a different level when I hired two designers. I could bid on projects that would have been too large for me to take on as a solo designer.” This helped her business compete with larger design firms and took her to a new level of success. 

Understanding their target market

Jen Cosgrove of Jen Cosgrove Interiors credits her in-depth knowledge of her target market as key to moving her business forward. “We developed a multistep process to help us get to know our clients at a personal level. This allowed us to easily achieve their vision and goals. Spending the time to get to know our clients, coupled with a variety of design and decorating techniques, helped us navigate the design process almost effortlessly. In most cases, it feels like we are reading each other’s minds!”

Getting to know her market allows Jen to form deeper relationships with them when they become paying clients. “The relationship that we form with our clients goes beyond a purely professional level,” says Jen. “Designing for others is a true privilege, and the collaboration is often the gift of a long-lasting friendship that continues despite accomplishing our initial reason for meeting.”

Continuing education

A trait I see often with my most successful design clients is their desire to grow and learn. 

Increasing their knowledge allows them to enhance their offerings, develop a specific product or service, or cater to a niche market. In short, it allows them to expand their reach. 

Cathy Kert, owner of Cathy Kert Interiors, credits continuing education with helping her maintain a competitive edge. As a member of ASID Allied, she’s required to keep up her continuing education credits. 

“Furthering my education has allowed me to get certified in different aspects of design, such as Aging in Place. In a few weeks I’ll be traveling out of state to learn how to use a CAD program for kitchen and bath. All these skills help me retain my competitive edge and offer design that’s not just beautiful, but also serves a purpose.” 

Cathy also went to Boston University to learn more about running a successful business. She’s  constantly learning new skills that propel her business forward and make her more of an asset to her clients. 

These are just some of the ways I see designers excelling in their fields. What do you do that helps you propel your business forward? Share it with us below!

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