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Are You Playing It Small: 3 Ways to Help You Kick Butt in Your Interior Design Business

career advice career growth emerging professionals good habits interior design professionals leadership online advice personal brand personal branding personal story Oct 05, 2023
Are you playing small in your interior design business or career? 3 Ways to Stand Out

Just last week, I was reflecting on my business – thinking through the past several years. I am sitting there thinking about when I should have swerved, dodged, stood up, and so forth. It is so easy to judge ourselves after the fact, isn’t it? We all do it. Women are especially hard on themselves.

But on this particular day, I was doing something around the house, probably laundry, and all of a sudden, it just hit me like a load of bricks upside my head. I realized I had been playing safe.

I asked myself – in my head, of course, because that would be weird if I did it out loud – how long had I been playing safe? I had to get really honest with myself. I realized it was most of my life.

Whether it was playing it safe by working at big corporations or making excuses for not growing my marketing consulting business beyond myself. From my point of view, I picked the safe route for most of my career for several reasons, including my husband and sons. But I realized at that moment, standing there in my loungewear, in other words, crappy old sweats, that I had been underestimating myself, and the only person to blame was me. 

Experts would probably tell me it was fear of failure, and yes, I think there was a lot of fear. I might think it was fear of paying the bills or feeding the kids, but it goes deeper – much deeper.

 It is a fundamental challenge for me, and I believe, for many women as well, that we play it safe to protect ourselves. I was so wrapped up in what everyone else might think that I wasn’t able to stand up for what I wanted. If I am honest, I am not sure I believed I was good enough to achieve those dreams.

Let me point out that most people aren’t paying that much attention to you, and if they are and wish you to fail, then they aren’t good people. Rather than blaming our partners or kids or the economy or whatever, we need to realize the only one stopping us from being hugely successful is us.

Let’s look at how we play it safe, and I will give you three ways to stop thinking safe and start putting yourself out front.

First, have you found yourself saying something like, “I am just an interior designer.” Or “I am just a mom.” Are you kidding me? You aren’t “just” anything. You are amazing.

The word “just” is heard falling out of many women’s mouths, and it needs to stop. It is almost as if we aren’t proud of our profession, families, or accomplishments.

It isn’t interior design, and it isn’t being a mom. I said “just” when I was in marketing, too. “Oh, I am just in marketing.” No, the truth was I was a marketing director with nine employees for a major financial corporation. I was just in marketing. I was running a successful marketing department that was kicking ass and taking names. 

We often make ourselves smaller in an effort to make other people more comfortable. I say screw that. It is time for you and me to stop playing it safe. Stop making ourselves smaller than others. Speak up and speak proud of what you give to your life. Completely delete the word “just” from your vocabulary. Because even if you feel like you are “just” a mom with a small business, in reality, you are a rock star.

Second, I am sorry. Can we please stop saying we are sorry whenever we give our opinion? This is a big one for me. I get really excited when I talk about different aspects of my business. I essentially explode with excitement. My voice gets higher, and I make it very clear of my opinion. And, then, I apologize. UGH, that is utterly ridiculous.  Why am I apologizing for my passions?

This goes back to childhood when I was taught to sit, be quiet, and not interrupt the adults. Mostly, don’t interrupt the men. I watched the women in my life sit back and not say a disagreeable word. When I went into corporate, I was often discouraged from being passionate about an idea. Then, I started my own business, but it felt like everyone around me thought I had a hobby, not a profitable business. The truth is, I believed that. Again, playing it safe or small. But I was supporting my family with that business.

My second tip is to stop apologizing for your passion, ideas, and success.  If someone has a problem with your success or opinions, then screw them.

Lastly, stand in your brightness. This morning, I had a photo shoot for new brand images. Last week, I was standing in my closet trying to pick out outfits for the shoot. Here is what I figured out. I often dress in dark colors – black, gray, and navy. I apparently want to blend in so no one will notice me.

I have this crazy notion that I would stand out if I wore bright colors. Well, duh, I need to stand out. I am growing a business.

Now, I am not saying you should wear a neon mid-drift shirt with a tutu to get people’s attention. I am telling you that you shouldn’t be afraid to express yourself with color or whatever is holding your brightness back. Don’t be like me and wear a safe navy jacket and pants set, and then stand in the corner and hope no one notices you. Then, better yet, leave an event wondering why no one talked to you.

Get out there and make sure others are noticing you. You have a lot to share. I am working on bringing more color to my wardrobe, including a great pink blazer I am wearing right now, and you will see when the new headshots are available later this month.

I believe many of us play on the safe side because, let’s face it, it is safe. But it may be time for you to brighten up and stand tall in your business.

I hope this gives you a little confidence to go out, kick butt, and be all your dreams.

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