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Start Interior design business

If you want to start interior design business of your own – Let me tell you from my experience that it is a very fulfilling job. This is one of the best small business to start – both in terms of satisfaction and the money involved.You may have dabbled in kitchen interior design,bedroom interiors,bathroom interior design and have won great comments from your friends on your fabulous living space.You know that you have a keen sense of design and color and would like to explore interior design business as an occupation. Interior design business is a vast field with interior design consultants specializing in different areas of this business.However the two main types into which the designers can be classified are –

1.Residential interior designers or home interior designers.

2. Commercial interior designers.

Residential or home interior designers mainly design the houses and living spaces of people. They mainly deal in home interior decoration and design and along with designing the homes of people they also extensively deal in home decor. They can further specialize in one particular aspect of home decor like -bedroom designing, kitchen designing, living room designing and likewise. There is a lot of creative freedom in this form of the business since clients usually give a free run to the home interior designer to fully express himself and create an exquisite living space for them.

Commercial interior designers on the other hand deal in designing commercial property and business paces for people .You can work in ding interior design for hotels,restaurants,offices and any other type of business that you could think of .There is a huge scope for work in this field since almost every commercial enterprise employs a commercial interior designer to do up its office .

Other areas of Super specialization – Apart from these two branches there are various areas in which interior designers and interior design consultants specialize in these days. Interior design for kitchen and bathroom is popular today and is a niche that you could work in if you already have a knack for these. However knowledge of cabinetry and plumbing is essential before you venture out into kitchen interior design. Another area which you could explore is windows and draperies designing. These form an essential part of interior designing for homes more specifically in bedroom interior design. draperies can dramatically change an entire living area and are also an effective way to change the interior decor of any house.This is an area where you can give a full free rein to your creativity and can play with colors and drapes.Here too a basic knowledge of heating and cooling systems and dry walling is essential. Another area which you could try out is lighting. Lighting designers understand that lighting is one of the key areas to be focused when doing up the interior decor of a house since bad lighting can prove to be a real sucker and turn a fabulously done up space into a drab and dim den. The interior designing industry is a multibillion dollar industry. Better still the industry is growing at a fast pace as new avenues are being identified where interior designers are offering their services.

Desired Traits –  Good people management ,negotiation and planning skills are essential in this field since you will be dealing with business people here and may have to come up with a new business plan every time your client has a whim or fancy.However if you are successful in establishing a good rapport with your client, you can be assured of a steady stream of business from the same .

Prospective buyers –  Their services are increasingly being used by – a) Home owners b) Companies c) Airports d) Restaurants, Pubs & lounges e) Convention centers e) Public entertainment places – like movie theater, clubs etc f) Hospitals g) Government offices h) Banks & financial Institutions and at many more places. The list is endless and thus there is endless scope of places for interior designers to offer their services.

Which specialty to target ? – Before starting your own interior designing business and drawing up an interior design business plan for yourself you must first decide which area of the business in which you want to specialize. Your business plan and your future action would then be a buildup on the niche you choose to target.

While common sense says that deciding your specialization should be based on your interests and strengths I have over the years built a  different opinion and strategy on this.

A common mistake that starters do is to target a niche that is of their interest but it either  has a negligible market size or the segment market is too competitive for starters. In fact a better strategy in the beginning is to target a niche that has low entry barriers (even if it is less profitable). This in turn helps the starter consolidate his position in the market without attracting the attention of existing players in the market.

For instance, Commercial interior designing which is the most lucrative segment in the interior designing Industry is a highly competitive market in most of the places and is generally not suitable for new entrants. You should generally graduate to such segments after having worked in this Industry for at least an year.

Caveat – You need to do a study of the existing players in your market to identify which segment is competitive and which segments have a low entry barrier. Thus it might as well be possible that the commercial segment in your area is still underdeveloped. In that case you can make a straight jump into this segment to grab your position as a market leader.

If that sounds complicated, do not worry – we will give you an easy but a great method to understand your market in a later post.

P.S – Many countries (say for instance U.S.A or U.K) requires an interior designer to obtain certifications before they are allowed to start practicing as an interior designer. However, If you are not academically qualified, you can call yourself an interior decoration company (and not interior design company).

You can also enroll your self into a proper and accredited interior designing school and obtain the requisite degree and the the certification in due course of time – learning the technicalities of the trade – while simultaneously growing your client profile and building an impressive portfolio.

Steps involved in setting up –  With this basic understanding in mind, let us now delve into the steps involved in setting up an interior designing business –

#1) The first step in the process is to think of a name for your interior designing business and the constitution of your company. (whether you would like to go alone or as a franchisee of a reputed firm or as an associate with some one else or as a LLC with a formally constituted board of members)

#2) The second step in the direction would be legally constitute the setup that you have chosen in the first step. This should not be a very difficult task and any attorney will be able to do this for you in return for a small fees.

#3) The third step (and the most vital one) is to draft an Interior design business plan for your self. The business plan will include an executive summary, details about your organization – (details of people involved with the venture – their education qualifications, their past experiences and their proposed role in the new business), details about your prospective market (will provide details about the niche in which you intend to operate, the market size, the demographic breakup of the market), a detailed budget for the next 3-4 years tenure, a detailed analysis of your costing (includes both set up costs and recurring working capital costs that will be needed),the requirements and means for funding for this proposal, income and profitability analysis, a list of your suppliers along with their terms of service, a portfolio of your existing work, a note on how you intend to address the technical aspects, details about your statutory compliance,promotional strategy, pricing strategy (including the credit terms that you will be offering to your customers and how you intend to participate competitively in tenders or bids), the accounting policies for your organization, plans on hiring of people,your future growth plans, a time schedule for your business plan and a section detailing why you think your growth assumptions are realistic.

4) Once your business has been formally constituted and your business plan is ready, you need to begin with building your portfolio. In the beginning, you may not have any great work to use as your showcase and the best way to start is to build an impressive portfolio from within your house. Do a renovation of your space and take some good photographs (You can hire a professional photographer to help you with this).

Ideally a portfolio should not only show the final pictures but it should also show the pictures of the place before the renovation took place, some pictures of the place when the renovation work was under way lastly followed by the picture of the place after the interior decoration and renovation was completed by you. The portfolio should also highlight the begin date and the end date of the interior design works undertaken by you.

You may or may not include the costing data for these works in your portfolio. However if providing budget solutions is one of your key selling propositions then it would be better to give your prospective clients with some costs indications.

The portfolio of an interior designer is like a resume. The more professional, more detailed and more appealing the portfolio – the better are the chances of being awarded with an offer. Remember that your portfolio would be competing against the portfolio of other designers and you will really have to stand apart by offering unmatched perceived value to the buyer. This could mean that you will need to work on shoe string budget in the first few orders that you undertake.

#5) The next step in the process is to hire/em-panel suppliers who will form a key component of your interior design business. You will have to identify and em-panel a large number of suppliers – ranging from high end, high quality suppliers to moderate and low end interior decor suppliers.

To begin with you should have a line of suppliers of furniture, curtains, wall paper, lighting, mats & mattress, glasses, wall hangings, paints, and flooring material. You would do better to identify a transporter to manage the logistics. 6) When you are done with the previous steps, now is the time to let your prospective buyers (you would have identified them in the business plan) know that you exist.

Make your first impression count by being well prepared. There are tons of cheap (nay free !) methods that you can use to reach out to a large section of prospective buyers in your area. We will delve into them in a later post.

Conclusion – Most of the new business start ups have to to go through a difficult initial phases. But this is not the case with interior designing business. In fact when we later discuss this aspect you will be surprised to know how you can easily break into this Industry with a bit of smart work (Not hard but naive work)

There are more tips and insider tricks of the trade that you can read through.

For now you can download a free ebook on starting an interior design business by clicking on the following link – Interior design Business Free Book download link.

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