Starting an Interior Design Business

Starting an interior design business can be an exciting, but daunting prospect.

If you've never run a business before you may be unsure of where to start. What sort of business should you run? How much can you charge? How do you get customers?

Well worry not, in this blog post, we answer all of your questions. Stay tuned...

Step 1: Become an Expert

​​​​​​​​​​​​If you're starting an interior design business you really need to have some specialist knowledge of the subject!

Many interior designers in the UK are not qualified to degree standard.

A diploma level qualification covers all of the basics needed to professionally advise others on how to decorate their homes.

With a range of online courses at reasonable prices, there is no reason not to get qualified.

When looking for courses, ensure that they are properly accredited (see here for how to know if a course is accredited) and check out the support that will be available for you, when you sign up.

Some interior designers decide not to study at all. If this is you, make sure that you do as much research as possible, to become as knowledgable about the field as you can. Aim to become an expert in the industry (see our courses >here<).

Step 2: Know Yourself

One of the best things about running your own business is that you get to call the shots.

Before starting your interior design business, you need to get really clear about what sort of business you want to run.

Some people find that their business ends up running their life, not the other way round. This is often because they haven't designed their ideal business from the get-go. 

To avoid making this mistake, ask yourself some key questions:

  • What are your business objectives? Do you want to run a small freelance business, a large studio, or become as famous as Kelly Hoppen?
  • What are your business ethics? Do you want to run an ethical business? Is eco design important to you?
  • How much do you want to work? Will you take calls in the evenings, on weekends, every day of the week?
  • How far are you willing to travel? Are you locally based, national or international? Or maybe you want an online-only business.
  • With whom do you want to work? Do you want to work with young career climbers, the country set, families?
  • What sort of work do you want to do? What is your design style and what sort of projects will enable you to grow and develop this?

The answers to these questions will set the boundaries of your business and ensure that you end up starting an interior design business that you love, not one that you end up loathing and resenting.

Step 3: Business Basics

There are some key business basics to follow when starting an interior design business.

Firstly you need to notify the authorities that you are setting up in business. You can set up as a sole trader, which just requires you to notify HMRC, or you can set up as a limited company.

Setting up a limited company is more complicated, requiring you to register with Companies House. A limited company has more complicated reporting requirements than a sole trader and you may want to engage an accountant to do manage your accounts for you.

You also need to get insurance for your business: professional indemnity and public liability insurance is a must, and you will also need employers' liability insurance if you intend to employ others too.

Finally, make sure that you have a contract in place before starting any work with customers. You can buy 'off the shelf' contracts, or you can join The Interior Designer's Hub and use ours instead!

Step 4: Set out your stall

Having a website is an absolute must. Your potential customers will check out your website before they do anything else.

And in a business as visual as interior design, you need to make sure that your website is as visually appealing as possible.

Your website should look professional, be error free and have the most beautiful photography.

If there's one thing you want to invest your money in when starting an interior design business, it's getting professional photography taken. It really does make the difference between a professional looking website and an amateur.

Choose colours and imagery that reflect your brand. Your brand is based on your ethos that you identified in step one. If you have a vibrant and busy design style, your website graphics, fonts and colours should reflect this.

If you prefer a pared back style, make your website clean and clutter free. Your visuals should match your design ethos.

You will need a portfolio of your work, and this can be difficult when you are starting an interior design business. Using photography of your own home is absolutely acceptable (as long as you designed it yourself of course). You can also use work completed during your interior design training too.

Step 5. Get Out There!

Once you have everything in place, it's time to get yourself out there, and get your business known!

I always say that there is no magic ingredient to marketing your interior design business. It's about taking consistent action and following tried and tested methods.

There are many marketing methods you can use to get your business known. Social media is an important tool to reach a wide audience, and running a blog or vlog helps to position you as an expert in your field. Creating a local network of key stakeholders and leveraging local PR opportunities can be powerful too. In the hub we teach a 12 step visibility strategy that put you right in front of your customers.

If you would like some help setting up or running your own business, why not download our >>free business start up guide<<, or come and join the hub, where we train, coach and mentor you to run your own successful and professional business.

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