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3 Areas to Invest in Your Interior Design Business

3 Areas to Invest in Your Interior Design Business

To grow your interior design business you need three things: a steady stream of clients, a healthy and consistent cash flow, and money to invest in building the business. Since discretionary funds are scarce in most interior design business budgets, you want to make sure you’re allocating your marketing resources properly. While every firm is unique, three areas are practically guaranteed to deliver a sizable return on your investment.

1. Marketing and branding

Whether you aim to increase the number of projects you have or to attract more of your ideal clients, you need to reach more prospects. That requires marketing and perhaps sales training as well. These days, aside from word-of-mouth, most interior design marketing is digital. Prospects and wannabe prospects are combing the internet and social media platforms, looking at project photos and scanning client reviews.

To be competitive, you want to have a strong digital presence. For that, consider investing (if you haven’t already) in the following areas:

  • Professional photography — It’s better to have even just a few high-quality images than an array of amateurish ones.
  • Web design — Your website is a reflection of your design sense and taste. A poorly designed website will drive away prospects with just one click and run up your bounce rate. Easy user interface is just as important as glossy images.
  • Branding — Your logo, fonts, colors, and wording should complement your design style and intent. They’re your first introduction to a new prospect. If you want to impress, invest in professionally designed branding materials.
  • Marketing — Prospects can’t hire you if they can’t find you. Develop a marketing plan, establish a marketing budget, and devote time each week to some form of marketing. Our research has shown that many designers who rely solely on word-of-mouth and referrals for business achieve little or no growth year after year. To make the best use of your resources, target your marketing to your ideal client community. Your goal is not to be popular. It’s to connect with prospects who want to work with you.

2. Business operations

Another area often neglected, especially by designers who have recently started their business, is the back office. If you want to keep more of that revenue you’re earning, you’ll need the right business software and tools to run your business efficiently. Work with a management consultant to establish and document policies and procedures to streamline your operations.

To invest more time in the things that produce that revenue, like designing and billing projects, you can outsource duties like bookkeeping and tech maintenance. Also consider using freelance help to promote your business, such as communications and social media management.

3. Staffing

If you’re serious about growing your business, at some point you’ll want to hire some staff. Many new business owners make the mistake of thinking that they will save money by hiring cheaper labor. They will bring on an intern, design assistant or junior designer. If you only need someone who can perform some fairly low-level tasks, that may be a satisfactory solution. If you want to take on more projects, move into new markets, or attract a more exclusive clientele, think again.

A less experienced employee will take more time to train and manage. That is time that could be better spent generating business and revenue. A more experienced employee will command a higher salary but will be more productive sooner. They also can bring knowledge of other areas of design as well as new contacts, creating new opportunities. In most cases, they will generate far more in new revenue than they will cost in compensation. If you invest in an experienced employee, you’ll get returns quickly!

Each of these options involves different levels of resources. Some may be more appropriate at one stage in your firm’s growth than at another. Assess which will give you the biggest boost now and factor others into your longer-range planning. Implement them when they are in concert with your overall business plan, performance and goals. Your future self will thank you for having made such wise investments.

Contribute your experience to the survey and see your industry’s results this fall.

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