If you are thinking of starting an interior design business, you should know that you would have a tough start. Not only in the interior design business but others as well. Interior design business is a saturated market and it would be hard for you to stand out. So, in this article, we will provide you lots of ways on how to start an Interior Design Business, while cutting through the rest of the businesses out there to develop a client base.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to success in business and many others, but if you start by focusing on the important parts when starting a business, you’ll still see yourself running your business for a year to on your way in becoming a successful interior designing business. The first year of running a business would be one of the hardest, therefore lasting a year is a good sign.
What Does an Interior Designer Do?
Interior designers are responsible for designing space, open or not, and meeting the needs and requirements of your clients. The main things that an interior designer could do are:
- Working with teams and making research about the requirements
- Determining the objectives of the design
- Supervising the designing process
- Responsible for formulating the design concepts, which would be in line with the client’s vision
- Observing the equipment and materials that are to be used
- Creating a plan to communicate about the concept of the design
Designers may also collaborate with the builders and architects on larger projects, and you would also be responsible for making sure the project will remain within the client’s budget and the timeline. Understanding the design style is very important, especially if you are working with clients with different style preferences.
Being an interior designer should have a good eye for aesthetics naturally. Therefore, if you look at a space, you should be able to visualize immediately how the components of the patterns, lighting, materials, and colors would come together. In addition to your sense of design, another important skill that you should have is the ability to listen and communicate well with clients and workers.
Also, you should be able to translate your client’s desire to the other teams that are working on the project, to ensure you will create a beautiful design that is both inline and functional with your client’s vision. This kind of job will require you to have a wide skill set, such as exceptional skills in communication, listening ability, organizational skills, and salesmanship.
Similarly, having an exceptional communication skill is not only applicable to workers and clients but to the stakeholders as well who are involved in delivering a project, as this is essential in making the project successful, as well as making the visual design coming to life.
How Do You Become An Interior Designer?
Becoming an interior designer would take more than being creative when you are planning on starting a business. You would need formal education, training, as well as strong marketing and business skills. Below are some things that you should know to become an interior designer successfully.
1. Be Qualified
Qualifications and certification will not only teach you the skills you need to become a successful designer, but they would also add some credibility to your name and business. These days, they’ll be able to provide you an edge to surpass your competitors. There are a lot of courses out there that could help you gain additional knowledge and training in interior designing.
Every level of qualification you’ve achieved would open a new door for those who are aspiring to become an interior designer. Therefore, it would be worth it to determine which course would work for you. To give you some ideas, let’s look at some of the available courses in most colleges closely:
- Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration
This course is comprehensive and a nationally recognized course that would cover the areas of interior designing, from the design’s fundamentals and working with the clients, to understanding the briefs and working with the suppliers, and to sourcing materials.
This will also teach you the conceptual, technical, and creative skill you’ll need to prepare you and succeed in working in the industry. This is a nationally recognized qualification that could make a huge difference in your credentials in designing.
- Certificate IV in Interior Decoration
This certificate will teach you the concept behind interior designing, as well as the practical skills needed to establish a successful career in the designing industry. You will learn about the theory of colors and how to use patterns and furnishings to decorate spaces.
You’ll also learn about all the legal and administrative requirements of running your interior design business. This a great way to go towards advanced courses, such as the Diploma of interior design and decoration.
2. Gain Some Experience
Once you have all or some of the qualifications, it is the tie for you to get experience. Some of the interior design courses will provide you an opportunity to create an extensive portfolio, which you can present to your clients instantly. But if you don’t have a portfolio yet, the easiest place for you to start is your very own living space.
Choose a section of your home that would showcase your skills in pairing lighting, colors, and textures together. Take several professional photos, so that you could use them in building your portfolio. Do your best in showing a range of various works from color selection to soft furnishings and planning.
You can also reach out to people you know like family, colleagues, or friends and let them know that you are trying to gain some experience. You should also extend your services to the local community by reaching out to cafes, restaurants, local charities, or salons. You might even know someone who’s having a wedding or other occasions and events so that you can offer your services to them too. There are a lot of opportunities available that you could pursue as long as you know where to look.
Look for an area of design that would inspire you and research about it. Find a company or designer whose work you look up to and research about the practice. If possible, you can consider approaching them for work experience. At the moment, the industry isn’t very popular yet, therefore a lot of companies are looking for some help from designers.
This industry is based on images, therefore having a well-presented and enthusiastic prospect, which could present their selves armed with the knowledge of your practice can go for a long way. However, the best piece of advice that you should seriously take is to get several professional photos, which are either taken by a photographer or your own high-quality camera like DSLR.
Remember that you are offering a professional or premium service that would heavily rely on the aesthetics’ value, so while it could be tempting to cut some costs, taking pictures with a phone just isn’t going to cut it.
3. Create a Portfolio and Build a Website for your Services
Now that you have gained some samples of your work, it is time to showcase your work in an attractive portfolio. It is quite difficult, or even impossible, to get well-paid without having a portfolio of samples of work for your clients to look at. Therefore, you should make it a priority to create a professional portfolio, and at least place several high-quality photos that could showcase your work.
In addition to having a portfolio, it’s also important for you to build a website that is designed to specifically sell your service. Your website needs to contain your updated contact information, samples of your work, FAQs, ‘About Us’ section, and your Terms and Conditions. You’ll need to have a registered domain, which would direct users to your website.
You can easily create a website by using sites like Google Sites, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, and more. But if you are looking for something more advanced, you can try using WordPress for free and hire a web designer to create a website that is designed for you, or you could do it yourself if you know something a bit about using WordPress.
4. Look for Clients and Build a Relationship
One of the biggest challenges that you could experience when managing your own business is looking for clients. Getting clients is an ongoing process that is all part and of having a business, and also being one of the most effective ways of building a relationship. Be confident about your skills and let people what you are exactly doing. The best opportunities that you could get would come from networking, as well as sharing your dreams with people who are willing to listen.
So, consider engaging yourself with people in your community, look for a mentor, and begin networking. These days, building yourself online plays a bigger part in becoming successful, which is why it is important to create a website. Having a great website means it would be easier for people to look for you and contact you through your phone, which they found on the website you created.
Aside from the website, you can also communicate with potential customers and market yourself through social media, and read blogs to be updated on the latest interior designs around the world. If you enjoy writing, as much as you are designing spaces, you could consider making your own blog about interior designing, while also sharing some tips, pictures, and advice that you find inspirational.
If you like, you can consider becoming a guest contributor to interior design blogs or on news websites, as this would help build your name and spread the word about your building business. The aim of becoming an expert and share your knowledge about it with the world. You might not see yourself as an expert yet, but you’ll be surprised to know about how much you know about basic decorating compared to an average person.
5. Specialize in an Area
While this isn’t a mandatory step, developing or specializing on a niche can help you stand out from the industry. If you enjoy designing a café’s interior, then you should consider marketing yourself as a café interior designer. But if you think you’ll get more clients by marketing yourself as an all-around interior designer, then you should do so to help build your interior design business.
For us, we think that finding your style and then sticking with it would be much worth it, rather than trying to do everything for every client that needs various styles. Specializing in an area doesn’t mean that you’ll have to become a certain type of designer, it only means that you are more experienced in that specific area than the other designers. This is a great way of marketing yourself online, were specializing in a specific landscape is more competitive.
Don’t copy other designers or worry about the trends and just focus on carving your own path. Your own unique style might be the next thing waiting to become popular by growing, but you’ll never know it if you’re busy copying other interior designers with common specialties.
6. Establish your Finances
Running your own business will also mean that you’ll be taking charge of your finances, which usually feels kind of confusing and the least fun aspect when starting an interior designing business. But if you get it right from the start, you’ll have lesser headaches in the future. Your first priority would be deciding on your fees, or how much you would charge a client depending on the project.
Remember that this is something that you could change over time when you gain more experience. So, it would be a good idea for you to talk about with someone within your industry to have an idea about the acceptable rate. You may also want to make sure that you’ll get paid on time, therefore you must have an invoicing process ready before you begin a project.
If you’re not sure what your invoice should contain, it is just a simple document which you can send to your client containing details about the costs and project. Invoicing is made easier for business owners with the help of tools like Invoice2Go, FreshBooks, Invoicera, and more. As an alternative, you can also make your own invoice, while keeping track on your finances one a spreadsheet.
11 Steps in Starting Your Interior Business
No that were through about how you can become an interior designer, with a bit of information about how you can start building your own interior design business, let us now move on to a much more detailed step in starting an interior designing business.
1. Know which Clients you are Targeting
When starting an interior designing business, you’ll know that it can cover up a lot of sub-sectors, such as decorating artificial flowers, sales, and installation, antique furniture refurbishing, ceramic tiles, basement remodeling, home furnishing, custom furniture covers, designing a home improvement logo, and a lot more.
Therefore, you should first who are the clients you are targeting, as this is directly related to what type of business you should be starting. Once you have decided your niche, make a research about that small segment. But more particularly, you should know that different backgrounds of your potential clients.
Find out about the services, market size, and specific products that are basically in good demand. But most importantly, you should know what your customers expect from your interior design services. So, you should have a clear vision of who your ideal client would be.
2. Create a Unique Logo
After deciding about your designing business niche and have profiled your potential clients, own and create a unique business logo for your venture, which could create a positive impression on your clients. The sense of having a logo for building your business’ identity will be well-documented.
As people see logos repeatedly in products, advertisements, services, and other marketing materials, it would be much easier for them to identify the business and the company. Therefore, it would be nice to have a logo for your interior design business.
Crowdsourcing the platforms can help deliver you a lot of ideas for an interior designing business. If you are looking for a marketplace where you can launch an interior design logo design making contest, you can easily do so in Designhill, which is a leading marketplace in making contests for logo making and get it at an affordable price.
The prices of the logos will start at $99 only with more than 50 designs to choose from. If you’re not satisfied with the designs, you can get a 100% money-back guarantee at Designhill.
3. Go Online
As we have already mentioned earlier, you should make a website for your business to go online, as this would get you more clients on the internet. Since a lot of people are mostly searching for things they need online, it would be a great idea to create a website for your business also. It may cost you a bit, but it would be very worth it in the long run.
These days, people aren’t looking for interior designers directly, they search for them online and compare them from one another in terms of services, expertise, and costs. So, if you ever make a website for your business, make sure that you include all the necessary information in it, which potential customer’s usually looking for.
4. Initially Offer Free Services
Offer some basic projects for free or at an affordable price at first for your clients. This way, you will have a platform in demonstrating your skills and talent. If you have satisfied your clients, they would then spread the good word about your talent and interior design business. This would help you get initial clients, where you can gradually build your own list of clients.
Therefore, you should look for a few clients who would let you design their spaces. To make them less doubtful, you can offer a waive on your designing fee so that they would allow you to do some interior design projects. Make a request to give you full creative control over the project.
Some clients may be tempted to be offered with free decoration on home furnishing or home interiors. You could buy a couple of furniture, which your clients would be tempted to buy from you.
5. Market on Social Channels
Do not underestimate the power of social media when it comes to promoting your startup interior designing business, or a home furnishing business. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great places to promote your business. You can gather thousands of ‘likes’ and followers for your new venture.
A lot of these ‘likes’ and followers can become your potential customers when they need a home decoration service. Using social media platforms can help spread the word about your newly established designing business.
However, before you could gain a lot of followers and ‘likes’, you’ll have to post an interacting and engaging content on your social media. Post high-quality photos regularly along with some information regarding the phot, as well as your interior designing services. This way, your viewers would know a bit of information about your business.
6. Create and Show Incredible Photos of your Designs
Interior designing is a kind of a visual medium. It’s a business that is all about creating visuals in the form of home decorating, home furnishing products, flowering, and more. If potential clients are impressed and interested with the design and visual effects you have created, you will get more clients and make more business due to words spreading about your business publicly, in a positive way may I add.
Therefore, when you meet your clients for the first time, make a first impression on them by showing the photos of your recent personally. You can also display some of these photos on social pages and on your websites so that customers who can’t go to your office right away could see some great samples.
If you don’t know how to capture high-quality photos, just hire a professional photographer so that they’ll be the ones to capture amazing photos of your works for you. Showing your works to clients is a good way to get a deal from them.
7. Attend some Trade Events
If you want a great way to expose your new business in the market, you could attend Trade events which is an excellent platform in giving exposure to new businesses. Whenever you see a sign or flyers in town on interior designing businesses, make sure to register your business’ presence as your first step to making an exposure.
You should try meeting up with industry experts and get some suggestions from them for the growth of your venture. There’s also a chance that you could meet a lot of interior designers with a great reputation, you can communicate with them and get a few kind words about your business, which could help you get big deals and clients.
When speaking with experts and people, you should always give them your business card. But don’t just give them a plainly designed business card, make sure that your card has a unique design on it, so that you could impress your potential clients just by through your business card’s design. Make sure you have your name, your business’ name, address, email address, and of course your contact number on the card so that clients could contact you easily.
8. Spread some Flyers
If your interior design business startup currently has small financial means, where you cannot afford to make T.V or newspaper advertisements, you can spread flyers as an affordable yet effective alternative in advertising your interior design business. Flyers are a leaf advertisement which you could create at a lower price.
You can just simply stand at a crowded place and give flyers to passersby, you can also post on message boards, which are usually found in terminal areas. To catch people’s attention, you should put a large and attractive interior design business, along with texts as your flyer’s design. The idea of using flyers is to immediately catch people’s attention to the main features of your business.
9. Consider Email Marketing
If you are looking for another cost-effective marketing that is highly efficient in creating a solid customer base for your business, is Email marketing. To do this, you should gather the email addresses of the people visiting your business’ website, create an advertising message, and send them individually to your visitors.
You can also start your own newsletter and ask your visitors to subscribe to it for free when they provide their email addresses. Then you could send emails to, which highlights some of your interior design services’ major features. A lot of these subscribers will inquire about your business, while some would ask some of your services on home or event decoration services.
However, before you could send an email to your subscribers, make sure that you do your email marketing in a professional way. Your emails should be able to compel your recipients in making an action about it.
10. Be in Control
Your clients will most likely believe in your talent and business on interior designing if you can project yourself by being in control in your field. To make it do so, you can start your very own blog about interior designing, while throwing in some samples of your works. Write your blog in an authoritative tone, so that people would believe that you know what you are discussing in your blogs.
This would also help build your company’s brand image as well. When it comes to your blog’s design, make sure that the design is unique, attractive, and memorable to make a good impression on your customers and visitors. Your blog should contain a wise use of texts, images, and negative spaces.
An interior design blog should also be an example of an interior designer’s good aesthetic sense when it comes to designing. This way, people will know that you take everything that needs designs and styles seriously, even on the smallest things.
11. Know What your Field Really Is
Interior designer, interior architect, interior decorator, and others are totally different. Therefore, you need to communicate this with your client’s very clearly, so that they would know what to expect when working with you.
This way, you can prevent attracting clients who are looking for designers to redesign the whole layout of their homes, when you just want to work on decorating the house’s interior.
Therefore, if you want to explain it more clearly to your clients, make sure to research about the following fields and explain it in words that are easy to understand.
To ensure your interior design startup’s fast growth, you should consider marketing yourself by using clever strategies.
Make sure you can create a great visual identity of your business to create a good impression on your clients. When it comes to online marketing, you should create a unique logo that could standout due to its design.
Aside from making a website, also make social media accounts for your business, so that you can get more potential clients in those areas.
If you are getting projects at a normal pace, you might want to do some free designing works for your clients initially as a promo, which is an effective marketing strategy in gaining more clients. And lastly, use emails and flyers to spread the word about your new business and enjoy every single thing about building your business.