To start my own interior design business or to continue onto a degree course? That is the question! I just recently finished my Diploma in Professional Interior Design via the National Design Academy (www.nda.ac.uk) and I have to say….I really loved every minute of it! Now I need to decide…..do I further my education in Interior Design and start the Foundation Degree or do I be bold and try to start my own business? Or do I do both simultaneously? Ugh! Decisions! I personally am leaning towards the “my own business” route. But, I have decided to take the summer to make my mind up……..September will be crunch time and I will make my choice then. In the meantime, what does it take to start your own interior design business from home? What does it entail? How do I go about it? It’s not maybe as simple of it seems and these are a few things that must be done to run a successful ID business……I need to remind myself about all the helpful points below….it’s not all about design, it’s about having a BUSINESS MIND as well…just as important!!!
Starting your own Interior Design business can be a daunting task so one of the first things that you must do is to make a business plan. A business plan is a formal, written document that states what your business is and what its goals are and how you will achieve those goals. The plan will include business strategies, your target market and financial forecasts and targets. Writing a business plan really makes you think through the business and makes sure you are aware of any drawbacks and obstacles that may get in your way and how you can plan to overcome these potential pitfalls.
Setting yourself up as a sole trader is the most popular way of starting up a small business. A sole trader is someone who is the only owner of the business and has full control over how it is run. When you register as a sole trader you are basically setting yourself up as “self employed”. Anyone who is self employed must register for income tax and National Insurance contributions with HM Revenue and Customs. This can be done conveniently online or otherwise can be done in person or by telephone. Once you’ve registered with HMRC for self-assessment you can then start to think about the marketing aspects of a start up business.
A marketing plan should be a well planned out document that will analyze your target market as well as your businesses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (aka: SWOT analyses). Part of the marketing plan of course will include marketing yourself. This is where the business card comes into play. It is vital, especially when first starting up, that you have a business card with you at all times! You never know when you will meet a potential client or industry contact! Marketing can include many various facets but one of the fastest growing areas for business marketing is online. This can include blogging, having a website, a Facebook fan page, being active on Twitter and using SEO tools to get higher up on Google searches.
As an Interior Designer it is important to set up trade accounts. This is one way of earning money as trade accounts can give you discounts anywhere from 10% -40% off retail prices. The more a designer buys in a year can determine how much of a trade discount they will receive. To open a trade account you usually need to be a registered business, in this case a sole trader. There will be an application process and more times than not the retailer or manufacturer may ask you for some references from other places where you have a trade account. Of course this can be difficult to obtain if you are brand new to Interior Design but is still very possible. Some places will allow you to open a trade account but will not let you buy on credit until you have proven yourself with a positive trading history. In short, the best ways to open a trade account is to make sure you are a registered business and then contact the companies with whom you would like to open a trade account with.
What do you think? New business “Suzie Brown Interiors” come September, 2013? Or back to school for a degree?