At Camberyard, a multi award-winning company offering mentoring and expert advice to interior design professionals, Polly Williams – the Designers’ Advisor – has formed a Collective of some of the best designers in the business. She has invited four – Ana Azevedo, Emma Hooton, Robin Sprong and Kay Westmaas – to share their top tips for starting an interiors business, ahead of their panel discussion this September. Here is their collective wisdom:
1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE: Before you do anything, consider carefully what kind of designer you want to be. Think about your strengths, your weaknesses and the passion that drives you forward. Having confidence in your offering is a crucial first step.
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE: Don’t dilute or muddle your offering by trying to do too much. Focusing your talent and drive on one product or service allows you to excel in that area. Once you become established and well-known for your offering, you can diversify.
3. MAKE A PLAN: To prepare yourself for the market and give your business the best chance for success, take time to formulate a solid business plan. If you know what direction you want it to take, you will be able to develop your business more effectively.
4. DO THE BASICS: Laying the groundwork for a strong business includes ticking off the essentials: registering your business, making sure you are tax registered, getting a trademark on your name, drawing up terms and conditions, and setting up accounting and filing systems. It is vital to get the administrative details right from the beginning.
5. REGISTER WITH THE BIID: Being part of the British Institute of Interior Design, a highly regarded UK institution, gives you credibility. The BIID can help you with the legal side of your business as well as promote you to potential clients – it’s worth it.
6. ASK FOR HELP: Ensure you have a well-organised business by asking for help with the day-to-day details. Hire a lawyer to draw up your terms and conditions and, as soon as possible, outsource your accounts, website, administration and marketing so you can focus your energy and creative skills on building the business.
7. GET IN THE EYES: People will only know what you do if you get out there. Network, be seen, have a voice, use visual images. There are many platforms to show and tell what you do: social media, magazines, photoshoots, shops, creative design groups, friends in your network or art and design-related events. Word of mouth is a big source of new customers and, by getting out there, you may also meet potential collaborators.
8. KNOW YOUR COMPETITORS: Research the dynamics of the design market and your direct competitors – their commercial model, pricing policy, target audience, social media presence, even their terms and conditions. Studying how your fellow designers do it can help you to understand your own value, how to run your business better, and how to more effectively differentiate your offering.
9. GET YOUR BRANDING RIGHT: Your name, logo and marketing material are the first things potential clients will see. It is thus important to ensure everything you put out there accurately reflects your brand and creates the feeling you want to convey. You should aim to be easily recognised on a wider scale, while also building a reputation in your home environment. Branding is an area where professionals can and should help!
10. JOIN A COLLECTIVE: Camberyard is founded on the belief that collaboration is more powerful than competition. Link up with your fellow designers from time to time to draw on each other’s talents. More likely than not – you can help each other to succeed.
To learn more from these designers and get their advice first-hand, come to their panel talk on 20th September at 12pm at the lecture theatre. Be inspired as they discuss key business and marketing strategies for establishing and running your own interiors business.