How To Start An Interior Design Business And Make Money
Mass urbanization has led to templated homes and lookalike apartment complexes. An interior design business solves this by giving owners unique homes to live in.
Barring 2011 and 2020, home sales in the United States, between 2011-2021, have been quite steady- sitting between 5 and 6 million homes sold a year.
It’s hardly slim pickings for an up-and-coming designer and success is only a matter of building contacts and relationships.
In this article, we take a look at seven things you need to do in order to start an interior design business.
1. Define How You’ll Earn Your Revenue
Television can often create a glamorous vision of an interior design business. Plenty of interior design reality shows can often create blinders about the real situation.
In reality, your interior design business doesn’t need to be limited by bigger projects by individual clients. You can have, of course, but here are some other ways you can earn as an interior designer:
Flipping Unsold Homes Around: You can work with a home-flipping company to design homes that are being flipped and sold. These can even act as your earlier projects to help build a portfolio and a network.
Selling Virtual Designs Online: While the sizes and interiors of homes can differ, you can help create customized and templated designs for homeowners to either execute themselves or draw inspiration from.
This can act as a ‘lite’ version of your services.
Consultations: You can consult homeowners on how to update the pre-existing homes that need a revamp, or talk to them about how they can change certain rooms, etc.
A consultation visit can be a gateway for homeowners to go with your full set of services.
2. Choose Your Design Niche
You don’t always work with the same design aesthetic, clients, or house types. However, it isn’t a bad idea to start with a loose, small pigeon hole and then expand it over time, with each project.
The kind of design aesthetic you choose early on can help you build relationships with:
Clients: To generate word of mouth to other homeowners who’ve appreciated your work.
Vendors: Specialists themselves in procuring and manufacturing certain kinds of furniture, decor, etc…
Media Attention: Usually this happens much later for an interior design business, but creating and innovating in a certain design aesthetic can lead to interior design media (such as social media pages, magazines, etc.) covering your work, eventually.
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3. Build Relationships With Vendors
Building relationships with vendors is a great way to get access to unique decor/ furniture and discounts on purchases. It also allows your interior design business to take better advantage of economies of scale.
The relationship doesn’t have to be formed with a geographically close vendor. Instead, you can look at vendors online and strike a conversation with them.
Networking events, LinkedIn, word from peers in your industry are all great ways to acquaint yourself with vendors who can procure what you need for your interior design business.
4. Incorporate Technology Into Your Business
Smart homes are quickly becoming a mainstay in North American homes. In fact, the industry is expected to be worth USD 314 billion, by 2026 with a great growth rate of 25% every year between 2020 and 2026.
This means that there is a great demand for smart homes amongst homeowners.
Take advantage of this by offering smart home solutions as part of your interior design plan and also acquainting yourself with vendors who offer smart home decor and furniture.
This can help you stay competitive, both monetarily and trend-wise.
3D printing is no longer an up-and-coming tech. It has made its mark in various industries and it can be especially useful in the interior design industry.
Much like how animation works in film, 3D printing can help you create decors and furniture that may be next to impossible through man-made efforts.
With 3D printing, your imagination is your only stopgap. Bespoke furniture is now more than accessible. Thanks to this tech, it can also be a lot more affordable for your clients.
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5. Stay Up To Date With Trends
Purchasing a home is a big deal. One of the biggest, in fact.
Therefore, it makes sense that homeowners want their houses to be perfect. For a lot of them, their houses are one-time investments.
This is why, to be on top of the game you should be aware of what homeowners prefer, at present. Yes, it is your job to influence them and sway them in the right direction.
However, a lot of a homeowner’s decisions will also come via comparing their ideal home to those of people they know.
So, read up on trends, attend fairs, talk to peers, and continually update your vendors. When you begin your interior design business, you wouldn’t want your offerings to be 3 years behind what homeowners want now.
6. Build Your Brand
- A Logo
- A Business Name
- A Social Media Presence (more on that below)
- A Website
- A Google My Business Page
Among other things. But start with these things. Clients and vendors need to be aware of who you are. And because your interior design business has ‘design’ attached to it, you will be critiqued based on face value.
To the layman, design is design. So, despite being completely different things, you may be judged based on how your logo also looks.
You can see how some of these top designers are building their brands online.
7. Regularly Update Your Portfolio
And show it off. The portfolio is one of the biggest aspects of your interior design business.
While you will get clients from word of mouth, nothing generates business better than putting yourself out there.
You can design a portfolio in your own way, but here are some tips:
- If you’re especially proud of a certain project, highlight it on social media and on your website.
- Your portfolio doesn’t just need to be a set of pictures of projects. You can make a lookbook for people to be inspired by.
- You can attach reviews/ pictures of your clients interacting with their homes in your portfolio.
- If your work involves flipping homes/ revamping, you can even create before and after images.
Your portfolio should align with your brand. It will be unique, much like the homes, your interior design business will end up producing.
An interior design business is one that changes an apartment into a home. It makes a living space, unique and just perfect for its dwellers.
Much like with every creative field, to be successful you’ll need to both do a ton of research and also bring in your novel tastes, preferences, and vision into the picture– all while keeping the client happy.
Creating that perfect home will not only be a joyous time for your clients but for you as well! So, all the best and get designing!