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Balancing Creativity and Business: Tips for Aspiring Interior Design Entrepreneurs

business strategies for new businesses digital marketing for interior designers how to find interior design clients how to start an interior design business marketing strategies for new service businesses May 29, 2024
Balancing Creativity and Business: Tips for Aspiring Interior Design Entrepreneurs

You’ve likely heard the saying: “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It would be wonderful if that were true, but the fact of the matter is that transforming a hobby into a career will always take work, and often a lot of it.

One of the biggest challenges for aspiring designers is balancing the creative side of the job with the practicalities of running a business. With that in mind, here’s a look at how to start an interior design business the right way.


Understand the Business of Design

As someone considering starting their own interior design business, it’s fair to say that you already know quite a bit about design. Still, you must ensure you have a solid grasp of business fundamentals as well.

These are some of the basics:

  • Business Planning: A business plan gives you a blueprint for starting and running your business
  • Financial Management: Knowing how to manage your cash flow is a critical part of maintaining financial health
  • Client Relations: You must have a plan to nurture relationships with clients
  • Marketing: A sound marketing plan will help you reach potential clients


For most designers, the business side of the equation is far less interesting than the creative side. But when you understand and implement key business strategies for new businesses, you’ll be better equipped to support creative endeavors.


Maintain Creative Integrity

As you search for a solid digital marketing strategy for new business owners like yourself, you need to draft a business plan that handles the logistics of your design firm. However, balancing your desire to stay true to your creative vision with the pressures of business can be a challenge.

Here are some suggestions to help you stay inspired:

  • Block off particular times to manage the business side of things
  • Find new inspirations, be they from literature, visual arts, films, or other sources that aren’t directly related to interior design
  • Dedicate time each day to brainstorm and come up with new ideas
  • Connect with other designers to talk about craft
  • Take breaks (from both sides of your business) to relax and recharge


Over time, you’ll likely identify the strategies that work best for you. Many creative professionals find that setting boundaries between their creative work and the technical aspects of running a business is essential. After all, when you’re trying to design a new space, you don’t want to be worrying about something like your business’s finances.


Manage Your Time

Separating creative projects from business-related tasks can be helpful. But you need to understand how to manage and divide your time between the two. Time management works a little differently for each creative professional, but most share a common concern: they wish they had more time!

You may not be able to add more hours to the day, but you can optimize your efficiency to enable yourself to get more done with the time you do have. Writing out a schedule for each day is a tried-and-true method that can help. But if you prefer something a little more cutting-edge, project management software can help you stay organized.

In some cases, you can turn to automation to help you get more done in less time. You can’t automate every part of a business, mind you. But you can still apply automation software to things like sending customer emails, scheduling social media posts to go live at certain times, and even answering basic customer questions on your website.


Give Your Financial Planning a Creative Twist

Ensuring the long-term success of your business means having a solid understanding of your finances is crucial.

With that in mind, one of the biggest challenges for newer designers is figuring out how to price services the right way. You want your prices to be high enough for you to live comfortably but not so high that would-be clients end up deterred.

The best way to decide on your prices is to first ensure you are aware of your expenses. The exact prices for these will vary significantly by geographical area, but these are some general examples:

  • How much you’ll set aside for federal taxes (and state taxes, if applicable)
  • How much materials for your projects will cost
  • Your overhead costs (your business space, insurance, etc.)
  • The cost of any business software you use


Make sure you research the competition and consider your value as well. For instance, if you already have a considerable amount of experience, you might be able to charge more than a designer who’s just starting out.


Build a Brand That Reflects Both Worlds

Building your brand (even if it’s a personal one) is among the most important parts of running a creative business. Start by thinking about how you want your clients to see you. When they hear your name, perhaps you want them to picture sparse, ultra-modern interiors. Maybe you’d rather have them think of something more traditional or even something else entirely.

In any case, the aesthetic you’re going for should consistently appear across your website, social media accounts, and even your personal appearance. For instance, if you focus on modern luxury, you’d probably create a logo with a modern font and design a website with an elegant feel. But if a client hires you and you show up in an old T-shirt and cutoffs, something will seem off. Ultimately, you want your brand to be true to your creative identity while still communicating reliability and professionalism.


Network and Collaborate

Musicians, writers, visual artists, and plenty of other creatives often find new energy and inspiration from collaboration. And interior designers are no exception. Networking and collaborating with the right people can help you grow your business.

Say, for example, that you’re friends with a designer who lives a few states away. She comes to visit, and you end up designing a space together. Once the project is complete, you each post about it on your business social media accounts. That kind of cross-promotion introduces your work to new audiences, some members of which may turn into new clients!


Learn From Mistakes and Feedback

There’s not a single business owner who gets everything right 100% of the time, no matter how experienced they are. Therefore, when (not if) you experience a failure or setback, it’s important to see it as a learning experience, not a personal shortcoming. Evaluate what went wrong and determine how you’ll handle similar situations going forward. And be open to both positive and negative feedback.

At the same time, learning from failures alone isn’t wise. Your successes should be learning experiences, too. If a particular creative or business strategy works for you in one instance, it will very likely serve you well in the future.

Altogether, the process of balancing creativity and business acumen is dynamic and ongoing. Successful designers have gotten to where they are today through continual learning, adaptation, and commitment to both their craft and the overall health of their business.


Turn Your Hobby Into a Career Today

Just as is true of interior design itself, creating a business is a kind of art. But practicing these two art forms at once is a challenge. And that’s where Behind the Design steps in.

At Behind the Design, we’re committed to helping independent designers succeed through creating community, developing marketing strategies for new service businesses, and offering continuing education courses and masterclasses.

If you’re thinking about starting an interior design business, or if your business is fairly new, we invite you to take our Hobby to Profitability Quiz and Masterclass. When you have a clear plan of action, you’ll be able to launch your new career with confidence!


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