If you dream of owning your own interior design business, you can realize your goals in a few simple steps. Like any business, starting your interior design company requires planning and dedication. You can grow a successful interior design business by developing a solid business plan and creating a stunning portfolio that features top-of-the-line kitchen appliances and fashionable interior design trends. Learn how to start an interior design business step-by-step, including writing a business plan, registering your company, creating a portfolio and marketing your new interior design business.
Write a Business Plan
A business plan is essential for every small business. This document serves as a roadmap for your new interior design company and helps you outline all the operational and financial elements you will need to run a successful business. The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) advises that you tailor your business plan to your business and industry. Most well-rounded business plans contain the following elements:
- Executive summary, which includes your mission statement and company vision
- Description of your company
- Market analysis that examines the interior design industry and how your business fits
- Organizational information
- Services and products you offer to clients
- Marketing information such as your ideal client and how to reach them
- Financial goals and accompanying timelines
Give Your Business a Name & Register Your Company
Naming your interior design business is essential for several reasons. Choosing a name early in the startup process allows you to register your business and get an official start. It also helps you brand your business and align your services and marketing materials around a central concept.
Once you have your name, decide how you want to register your business. You can choose from a sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or corporation. For most interior designers, registering as an LLC is typically the best option when starting.
Registering as an LLC provides you with protection if another person or company takes legal action against you. It separates your personal assets from your business assets. Additionally, an LLC doesn’t require you to pay taxes on business income like some corporations. To register as an LLC, choose a business name and complete the appropriate paperwork for your state. Check out the SBA’s helpful resources for new business owners to determine if registration is necessary for your location and what steps and fees are required to register.
Determine Your Services & Pricing
During your business planning phase, determine the services you plan to offer to your interior design clients. It may be a good idea to start small and limit your services to areas where you have education and experience. As your business grows, you can add to your existing services. When developing your services list, include concrete deliverables you will give to clients and your areas of specialty. Examples include:
- Kitchen and bath design
- Living room and bedroom design
- Color palette consultation
- Furniture and accessory selection
- Space planning
- Purchasing management
- 3D renderings
After determining your services, set pricing for each element. Pricing of interior design services varies by many factors, such as experience, location and clientele. Look into industry fees in your market and try to match your prices with others at the same level.
Create a Portfolio
You’ll need to create a portfolio to share with potential interior design clients to gain business. Developing a portfolio is a simple process that can produce significant results. You can create a portfolio on your business website using traditional builders like Squarespace or WordPress or a specialty platform like Pixpa. To create a portfolio, upload interior design pictures to your digital platform of choice. Include photos of any client work you’ve done or interior design elements in your own home or office space. You can also use 3D renderings that will give your potential clients a look into your style. Focus on showcasing rooms with elegant kitchen appliance packages or furniture that elevate the space and draw attention to your design sense.
Make Industry Connections
Running a successful design business is also about who you know. Making connections within your industry helps you grow your business. Carry business cards that include your company name, website and contact information to hand out at major trade shows and industry events. Exchange business cards with other interior designers at networking events in your area to make local connections. They may refer clients to you if their schedule is full. Consider joining a professional association like the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) if you specialize in kitchen or bathroom remodeling and design. Designers can also join the American Society of Interior Design (ASID). These associations connect you with peers and resources and provide you with extensive design information. Professional membership also showcases your professionalism and expertise to clients.
Market Your Services
You’ll need a website to showcase your work and market your design services to potential clients. If you’re inexperienced with web design, you may want to research for a step-by-step tutorial or hire an expert to make your design site look professional. To create a website, you’ll first have to purchase a domain name. Choose the name of your business or a closely related option for the best marketing results. You’ll also have to choose a web hosting service and install an online platform like WordPress to publish pages for your website. Your interior design website should include:
- The services you provide
- Your contact information
- Before-and-after photographs of your projects
- Client testimonials
Consider including a blogging section on your website where you can post articles about design tips, latest trends and other information that’s relevant to interior design or your services. Blogs that offer helpful information are a great way to increase traffic to your site and promote your business. Take advantage of social media platforms to promote your business as well. Create business profiles on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to showcase your work as a designer. Include hashtags in your posts of specific brands like ZLINE appliances used in your projects to attract a bigger audience.
Grow Your Business
Starting your own interior design business is hard work, and there’s more than one path that leads to success. Having a solid business plan and clearly defined goals is essential for a smooth business operation. Growing your business requires trial and error, and you may need to adjust your marketing techniques, services or rates — but, with perseverance and an eye for design, you can realize your dream.