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Importance of Planning for 2024: How to Keep Your Interior Design Business Ahead of the Curve

behind interior design business development for interior designers business tips for interior designers generating leads how to grow a design business marketing strategy marketing tips for designers Oct 04, 2023
How to plan for growth in your interior design business for 2024 | Behind the Design

Imagine you're sitting on your sofa, finishing the last bite of a delicious chocolate cake, and thinking how silly it was to eat the entire cake. Like most nights, you beat yourself up over your diet, lack of exercise, and guilt of not taking better care of yourself. In your 20s, you were an avid runner, but today, that seems a lifetime ago.

As you dwell in that space between guilt from eating the cake and wanting more cake, you decide to return to running. You always wanted to run a marathon, and you have no significant plans this weekend other than baking another cake. Running a marathon has been a dream for years. So, you grab your phone, do a quick Google search, and find there is a marathon this coming weekend.

That's it; you're going to run that marathon. You have three days to get ready. I wonder what you should wear – something cute, of course.

What do you think will happen when you wake up early Saturday morning to run that marathon? You can probably guess you hit snooze, roll over, and go back to sleep.

Most people wouldn't even dream of attempting such a feat without a well-thought-out training regimen. So, why would you approach your interior design business for 2024 without a plan?

Just as in running, planning is essential for achieving success in any endeavor. In this blog article, we'll explore the importance of planning for your interior design business, what should be included in your plan, reasonable objectives, establishing revenue projections, the role of marketing, and resource allocations to help you chart a course for a successful 2024.


Why is Planning Critical to a Success Business

As an interior designer, you know that staying ahead of trends and planning is essential to staying relevant and successful in your business. As we approach the year 2024, it's time to start planning ahead and considering the changes and challenges that may arise in the industry.

I will develop the 2024 business and marketing plan for Behind the Design this month. You may be wondering why it is so early. We still have three months left in 2023. It is very simple. I can't run a marathon on January 1 without training and planning. Like business, you need time to prepare to hit the ground running on January 2. Waiting until January to plan means not implementing until March, losing a quarter of the year. By planning now, we can maximize our time and resources to achieve our goals.

But more than just ensuring a timely start, planning gives you a clear vision of your business direction. It helps you identify potential challenges and opportunities, allowing for proper mitigation or allocation. Planning also enables you to set achievable objectives and establish actionable steps towards their attainment.


“You won't know when you get there if you don't have a plan.”  


What Should Be Included in Your Plan?

Your plan should serve as a roadmap for your business, outlining the big picture and the specifics needed to achieve it. It should include a mission statement, vision statement, and core values that define your brand. Additionally, your plan should identify your target market, competition analysis, marketing strategy, financial projections, and resource allocation.

Your mission statement, vision statement, and core values that define your brand don't change yearly if you have those established. Unfortunately, I see many interior designers with these foundational items just tooling around in their heads. Now is the time to get it on paper and focus on the meaning of the words.


Who is Your Ideal Client?

Your target market should be clearly defined, including demographics, psychographics, and behavior patterns. This information will inform your marketing strategy and help you design products or services that cater to your target audience's needs and preferences.

Think back over the last year or two; what have you learned about your target audience that can help you reach more clients? What new opportunities have arisen? You may have found a new niche different from your previous targeted customer. Remember, everyone isn't your target audience. I cringe when I hear business owners say that everyone is in their target market because that isn't true. Every business has a sweet spot. The client type not only makes a business money but is also a pleasure to serve. If you plan on growing your business, you will need to determine that client type and find more of those types of clients.

I was talking with someone just last week in a completely unrelated field, and she calls her sweet spot her big whales. Although she may serve other clients, she finds working with her big whales are the most profitable and easiest clients to work with. To continue to grow her business, she needs more big whales. It was interesting listening to her because she knew the sex, type of business, motivation, habits, and so forth of these "big whales."


Who Are You Truly Competing Against

Last week, someone introduced me to someone with a similar business as Behind the Design. She thought I might want to chat with him. She was correct. Although our businesses serve the same community of designers, our personalities and strategies are completely different. It was easy to see from his website that someone who purchases from him wasn't a good fit for me. The same thing is true with my target clients. His method was probably not suited for my target audience.

Although it is important to understand the competitive landscape, you should not get wrapped up in the notion that so many competitors exist that you can't compete. Or that you are not unique. That just isn't true.

I recommend looking at competitors with whom you have lost projects or your prospects have evaluated while evaluating you. Also, look at businesses that are light years ahead of you as an example of where you might go long term.

Analyzing the competition will help you gather valuable insights on differentiating yourself in the market and gaining a competitive advantage. Ideally, you went through this process a year ago. New competitors enter the marketplace every day. Other competitors close or adjust their business for one reason or another.


What is Your Financial Outlook

A detailed financial projection for not only next year but three years in the future is essential for the success of your business. The economy is always fluctuating, and understanding the current economic conditions can help you determine what adjustments need to be made in 2024 to maximize your returns.

Your projections should include a breakdown of expected revenue, expenses, and profits over the next year. You may ask yourself, "how do I know how many kitchens versus whole house projects will I do next year?" It isn't an exact science, but you can evaluate your past year (or more) and make an educated assumption. You may also look at what services or products you could offer that you couldn't offer this year. Predicting what is to come can feel daunting, but it is crucial to accurately predict your financial performance and make informed decisions about resource allocation.

Pro-Tip: If financial projections are not your thing, you are not alone. As creatives that can be taxing on our creative minds. However, for your business to be successful in the long term, you need a financial guru in your corner so you will need to find someone to help you. Start by asking your financial advisor. A good financial advisor can be a significant help and what they can't do, they will direct you to someone who can help you.

By taking the time to make projections, you can clearly see where you may need additional help. For instance, if you want to grow your design business by 10%. This 10% might come from raising prices, adding new clients, and reducing overhead. That 10% might pay for additional help, such as a marketing consultant or a new design assistant.


How to Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses

You should start seeing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats based on your gathered information. This is called a SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis will help you identify the holes in your plan where you need resources.

For example, if you want to grow the business 10% but are working 60-plus hours each week, then it may be time to invest in a consultant or employee who can help by taking over your weak areas. This might be hiring a part-time bookkeeper for Quickbook management or a virtual assistant to manage administrative tasks that consume too much time.

Here is another example. If you have turned on the business news recently, experts debate whether we are in a recession, heading toward a recession, or clear of a recession. Understanding that a recession might be a threat to your business is important. It gives you an opportunity to brainstorm and identify a contingency plan if something does arise.

The uptake of AI design programs that help homeowners design might be another threat. There is a probability that clients might turn to AI; however, you and I both know AI can not match your special sauce. Therefore, you need a marketing message that clearly communicates your special sauce can't be matched through automatic intelligence.


How Are You Going to Bring in More Business

One thing that was baffling to me when I entered the design industry was the waves of work. I found that I was either working my tail off or sitting around wishing I was working my tail off. There didn't seem to be a happy medium in the firms I worked for. This happens a lot for many small business owners. You market the crap out of your business, then get busy with the new business, and let off the marketing gas pedal to find yourself with little to no work six months later.

The key to minimizing this wave is consistent marketing. I can tell you from my own experience as a marketing consultant and then an interior designer, that this is a completely normal challenge for most small business owners. As you plan next year, you need to take a serious look at what sales and marketing tactics have worked over the previous year and what haven't worked.

Now, make an actionable plan starting with the working strategies and ensure those continue throughout the year. Then, either fix what isn't working or test a few new strategies to help you generate more business. Don't overwhelm yourself with a laundry list of new ideas.


Pro-tip: Rather than doing everything at once and burning yourself out, keep a list of strategies and ideas. As the year progresses and you see something isn't working, go back to your list and try a new strategy. Don't try to do everything at once. I promise it will not turn out well.


In your marketing plan for next year, you want to hone in on your messaging, strategies, and tactics by month. Although you may make adjustments, understanding what marketing strategies and tactics need to be done each month will help you stay consistent.

Planning ahead is essential to the success of any interior design business. The year 2024 may seem far away, but it's approaching quickly. Starting to plan now and taking the time to gather data and create projections will give you the insight and tools you need to stay relevant and competitive in the industry. By anticipating technological changes, economic factors, market trends, and finances, you can position your business for success and growth. Take the time now to invest in your business for a prosperous future.

If you need help getting started or just need someone to bounce a few ideas, schedule a call with me. That is exactly why I offer a free 30-minute "Let's Chat Strategy" call. I want to help you start your journey to a profitable business that you love.

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