How to Start an Interior Design Business: Top Tips to Get You Started

Are you looking for a way to break into the interior design industry? If your goal is to be your own boss, the first step is learning how to start an interior design business.

Starting your own business can be quite a challenge. You have to know where to get clients, how to pitch your ideas, where to set up, and which niche to focus on among other things.

But how do you do this without prior experience?

The Role of an Interior Designer

Interior design

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Your first lesson on how to start an interior design business is understanding what an interior designer does.


Contrary to popular belief, interior design isn't just about choosing stunning fabrics and furniture. There's more to the job than what meets the eye.

Yes, you'll have to choose furniture, fabrics, and other decor items to transform a client's room into a functional space and give it an aesthetic appeal. However, this isn't all you'll have to do.


Every interior designer needs to have strong business and communication skills because they manage their projects from start to finish. What's more, you need to know how to meet each client's expectations without going over budget.

Some of the respons​​ibilities you should expect to have include:

  • Working with a construction team to ensure designs are perfectly executed
  • Coming up with sketches to show your clients
  • Listening to clients' brief and understanding their vision
  • Planning and coming up with a strategy to meet customers' needs
  • Setting a budget and monitoring expenses

Do You Require a Degree in Interior Design?

Degree

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One of the things that deter people from going after their dreams is not meeting the educational requirements. The typical entry-level education requirement for interior designers is a bachelor's degree.


Fortunately, when it comes to self-employment, all you need is creativity, skills, and passion. Therefore, you don't necessarily need a degree to break into the interior design industry.


However, there are certain qualifications you can pursue that will give you an edge and improve your chances of success. Some examples include 3D design, spatial architecture, and computer-aided design (CAD).

With these qualifications, you should be able to handle modern interior design that, in most cases, works with 3D modeling and CAD software.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), in 2018, the median annual wage for interior designers was $53,370.


The Bureau also projects the employment rate to grow by 4 percent between 2016 and 2026. This number is lower than average for other occupations.


However, according to BLS, as of 2016, 1 in 5 interior designers were self-employed.

Different Types of Interior Design

Interior design

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When trying to figure out how to start an interior design business, you also need to know the different types of interior design businesses that exist.

I know what you're thinking: "Isn't there only one type of interior design and doesn't it involve making spaces stunning?"

In a nutshell, this is what interior design is all about.

However, there's more to the profession. For starters, it falls into two broad categories: commercial and residential. Most designers specialize in one or the other or work across both.

Whichever you choose, you should expect different types of work in the design process. Some of the responsibilities you should expect include:

  • Conducting feasibility studies
  • Procuring fittings, furniture, and equipment
  • Designing of interior concepts

So in the process of learning how to start an interior design business, you should decide which one you'd like to specialize in. Doing so will help you determine who your target client is.

Skills Every Interior Designer Should Have

Design

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Like any other profession, you need to possess the right skills to make it in interior design.


Most people believe that all you need to make it in interior design is good taste and creativity. This claim could not be further from the truth. You need not only artistic skills but also people skills to make it.


So let's find out if you have what it takes to make it as an interior designer.

Computer-aided design

CAD

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Technology plays a significant role in interior design today. In the past, all you had to do was to show your client your portfolio and images of spaces you've designed before to give them an idea of what to expect. In the current market, portfolios and mood boards don't cut it.


Today clients want to see how their space will look before investing their money. They get to see a clear picture of the expected outcome through computer-aided design software.


You see, through this software, you can create the space digitally and show your client what they should expect. That way, the client knows exactly what they're getting.


If you're not conversant with CAD, you should enroll for a course as soon as possible.

You won't make it without this skill

Communication

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The most important skill every interior designer needs is communication.

There's a lot of dialogue that happens in interior design. You have to share your ideas and vision with your clients and listen to theirs.


In addition to this, you also need to communicate with contractors and other people assisting you on the project to achieve what you want.


Therefore, if you're timid and shy, it might help to practice before trying the real thing. Try giving presentations in front of friends and relatives to build your confidence.

These skills will get you noticed

Creativity

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To succeed in interior design, you also need to have vision and creativity.

You should be able to walk into a room and see different possibilities.

Envisioning how to make use of natural lighting and what should go on various walls and parts of a room is what makes a good interior designer. This skill is also what makes clients drawn to you.


But without creativity, vision isn't enough. These two skills go hand-in-hand.


Apart from envisioning what you would do to transform a room, you also need to be up to date with current styles and trends. Furthermore, you should be able to sketch your ideas on paper to give your client a sneak peek into what's on your mind.

A worthy skill that will take some time getting used to

Interior Design 2

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One of the things they don't tell you when you are trying to figure out how to start an interior design business is that it's not like a regular nine to five job.


When it comes to interior design, there's no such thing as being off the clock.


Some clients may require you to meet up with them at the oddest hours of the day or during the weekends when you're planning to rest.


To keep your business up and running, you'll need to learn how to be flexible. It may not be easy at the beginning, but you'll get used to it as time goes.

This skill will help you in challenging situations

renovation ideas

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Running an interior design business isn't a walk in the park. There will be days when things don't go your way. A client may keep changing their mind to the point that it's impossible to come up with a plan. You might also experience delays in deliveries or even worse, find out that the items you planned to buy are all out of stock.


Sometimes the renovation ideas you had may change at the last minute, requiring you to come up with an entirely new design.


An important skill that will save you in such situations is problem-solving skills.

You need to be able to come up with a plan B fast and steer your client in the right direction when they can't make up their mind.

Learn this skill and every client will love you

miracle worker

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When you begin your interior design business, you'll realize that most clients expect you to be a "miracle worker" in the sense that they expect you to achieve too much for as little money as possible.


That's where your budgeting skills come to play. You need to be financially creative to achieve your client's expectations with the allocated budget.


You'll need to know the right vendors and use some money saving tricks here and there. For instance, it may help to buy fabrics in bulk when they're not in demand. Doing so allows you to cut back on costs.

Tips on How to Start an Interior Design Business

Now that you know what it takes to become an interior designer, here are some tips on how to start an interior design business to help you.

How to build a strong foundation

Business Plan

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One of your priorities when learning how to start an interior design business should be figuring out how to lay a strong foundation. Without a solid foundation, your business won't be able to weather the storms.


So how do you build a strong foundation? There are three ways.


For starters, you need to determine which ​​legal structureyou'll go for. You have two options. You can go for a sole proprietorship or start a limited company. Read up on both and find out which one fits your vision and goals better.


The other thing you need to do is to register your business. Some states require every self-employed individual to have a business license and others only require a permit for certain professions. To understand the requirements for self-employed individuals in your state, you can contact the secretary of state's office. It's also possible to get registration information on the secretary of state's website.


Lastly, consider writing a business plan. It will not only guide you on how to start your business but also how to grow it. Make sure you go back to it often to see where you can make changes and whether or not you are on the right track.

Doing this will improve your chances of success

Success

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The interior design sector in the U.S. is quite saturated. For you to stand out, you'll have to determine your niche. What's that unique thing you can offer that will make you stand out from other interior designers? Which market do you want to target and why?


The answers to these questions will help you choose a specific niche you can focus on.

The most important tip of all

The most important thing you shouldn't forget when you start your interior design business is getting insurance.


Even the most talented interior designer can make mistakes and sometimes these mistakes can cost you a lot of money. With insurance, you can weather these storms without affecting your business.


One of the covers you should consider getting is professional indemnity insurance, a type of insurance cover that compensates you if a client suffers financial losses because of the work you did for them.


Another great insurance coverage you'd benefit from is public liability insurance cover. This cover protects you from claims arising from injury or loss suffered by a member of the public during the course of your work.

How to get noticed

Social Media

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Once you've set up your business, the next thing you need to do is market the heck out of it to get clients.


Now, the choice of interior design marketing strategies will depend on what type of interior design business you're running. For instance, if you decide to specialize in the public sector, it would be best to sign up for government procurement services.


On the other hand, if you decide to focus on the private sector, there are several ways to get your business noticed.


One way to market your business is to create a website. Your website should contain your portfolio and other important information about you and your business. You should also utilize social media platforms like Instagram,
Facebook, and Twitter to get more clients.


Next, take advantage of the local contacts you already have, get on local business directories, and also get in touch with potential clients you already know. And don't forget to rely on referrals from friends and relatives. They'll go a long way in getting you noticed.

A tip that will help you get your foot in the door

Looks

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They say first impressions are everything. It's the same in business setups. A client can dismiss you simply based on how you present yourself. So don't just focus on creating a fantastic website and a unique portfolio.


Focus on maintaining a professional look that says you can get the job done.

After all, you are the face and brand of the business. Let that be your first selling point.

Go Forth and Start Your Interior Design Business

Interior Design JOob

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Deciding to venture into entrepreneurship isn't an easy step. So congratulations on getting here and taking a step towards learning how to start an interior design business.


With the tips we've shared, you should be able to start your business and get it running. However, don't forget to consult mentors and people who've been in the entrepreneurship space for a long time. They can share valuable advice that will help you grow and attain success in your business.


Are you now more confident on how to start an interior design business? Which tip did you find most useful? Please share your views and thoughts in the comments section. It's always a joy to hear from you.

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