Leadership Articles

Effective Business Strategies for Interior Design Entrepreneurs

Effective Business Strategies for Interior Design Entrepreneurs

You became a designer because you love creating beauty – it’s your passion.


Did you intend to start a business? Many designers “fell into” running a business for one or more of many reasons:

  • Because they couldn’t find a job.
  • They like control.
  • They want to make more money.
  • They want more time freedom.
  • Design is secondary to family, so they want flexibility.

The topic of “effective business strategies” is vast, so let’s tackle the primary strategies required to run a successful interior design business.

Three Primary Considerations

First, let’s talk about the three primary considerations for your business – Vision, Values and Culture.


What are you building and why? Is the work you do a hobby or a business?

Unless you know why you’re building the business, and what it will do for you, you’re likely to stay small and under-compensated.

If you are pursuing design as a hobby, that is your choice.

If you are pursuing design as a business then your approach will be very different.


What is important to you? What drives you and helps you make decisions?

Your personal values can be different from your business values. For example, my personal values include relationships, loyalty and contribution. I make decisions by filtering considerations through those values, and I also filter them through our shared business values: positive intent, innovation, collaboration, nurturing, initiative and client experience.

There are non-negotiable values like these for me.  Negotiable values are those you lean toward when possible. You may deviate from holding to negotiable values depending on the situation.

Some values are not as important to you and therefore may not be considered when making vital decisions. For example, you may like neatness and order, and if your spouse leaves the cap off of the toothpaste, it isn’t a “do or die” value. You might be annoyed, but you won’t get divorced over it… I hope!


Culture is core and integral to the success of your company. You hire and fire to culture.

Without a clearly defined culture, you have loose ideas about who should be part of your team and how you operate your business.

Without a healthy culture, you will have turnover and discontent with your team members. You’ll also become frustrated because others aren’t behaving the way you want.

Culture creates healthy boundaries.

Your company is made up of many moving parts, and having a strategy for each department will help you get better results.

HR & Personnel Strategy

Who you hire matters greatly. Each hire represents your company – your values, culture, and brand.

It’s important to have a hiring strategy and that means more than just hiring people to fill specific positions. You want to hire people that are an extension of what you deem important.

For example, if you hire someone who is technically proficient and exceedingly creative, but isn’t relationship-driven and you are, your client service will suffer. Even your internal relationships in the company may suffer. You could lose valuable team members if this hire is self-absorbed and lacks empathy.

You want to hire A-players who represent the way you do business and treat others with respect, courtesy and consideration.

Operations Strategy

Your operations strategy relates to how you set up your business:

Which software you select for accounting and proposals determines the efficiency and accuracy of the work you provide to your clients.

Processes and procedures – if you don’t have written processes and procedures, everyone on your team will do it their way, and therefore your brand experience will suffer.

How you manage the day-to-day operations and who provides the structure for your business is critical to operating smoothly. Simple things like who opens the mail, pays the bills, sends out invoices, orders supplies, etc. can affect the perception of your brand experience… and your sanity.

Equipment and software – setting standards means that you reduce decision fatigue when growing your business.

Financial Strategy

Financial strategy includes many facets that are crucial to the sustainability of your firm. Your financial model is complex and involves careful thought:

  • How do you bill your clients? Hourly + mark-up? Fixed Fee? A combination?
  • What are the operating costs for your business?
  • Do you own or rent your space, or are you home-based and virtual?
  • Do you create and adhere to a budget?
  • What are your revenue and profit goals?
  • What are your profit margins?
  • Do you know when you can afford to hire?
  • How do you compensate your team?
  • How do you earn more money?

Marketing Strategy

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • How do you find ideal clients? How do you uplevel the quality of your clients?
  • What methods will you use to attract your ideal prospects?
    • Website
    • Social media
    • Brochures
    • Email marketing
    • Speaking
    • Networking
    • Community involvement
    • Yard signs
    • Gift certificates

Sales Strategy

  • How do you convert prospects into clients?
  • What sales materials do you need to create to sell clients?
  • Who is responsible for the initial prospect calls?
  • Who is responsible for selling the clients?

Technology Strategy

  • What hardware standard will you set?
  • What software will you use?
  • What is your online strategy?
  • Will you use a CRM system for your database so you can market to people who join your list?
  • What is your SEO strategy?
  • What tools will you use to manage your daily operations?
  • How will you manage projects?

If you’re not seeing the results you want to see, then use these questions to figure out what you’re missing. These questions will help you evaluate your company in its current state and help you set goals for improvement.

If you want shortcuts, be sure to book a call with our team. We’re here to help you identify where you’re stuck and how you can get to the next level.

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