Your shopping cart is empty.

Advice for a beginner entrepreneur

November 7, 2018

I am planning on launching my interior design business in January after the holidays are over. I don't have anyone to bounce ideas off of so i'm just writing things down as I think of them. Any advice on things that I may be missing being this is my first time?

Comments (22)

  • PRO
    GN Builders L.L.C

    Not being an interior designer, but from a home builder prospective the only advise I can give you is to go with the things that excite you, don't be afraid to explore colors and try not to blow customers budget, knowing math also helps because you will need it :-) and most importantly take your time and listen to your customers wants and needs and get the feel for the space and go with things that make you feel good.

    One more thing, consider working with another experienced designer, even as a helper without pay just to see how the industry works and pick up a few ins&outs.

    Everything else will be a walk in the park!


    Don't hesitate to drop me a line on my profile page if you need a 3RD layouts or some visuals for any project I will be happy to help you -) or you can drop me an email on my web-page: 3dlayoutnj.com

    You should also create a Pro profile on Houzz so you can tell a bit about yourself, upload some of your work and your customers can leave reviews and all that other good stuff.

    Good luck!

  • HU-212451943

    Thank you so much for your insight. I will defiantly keep those things and you in mind as I get further in my process!

  • PRO
    Sina Sadeddin Architectural Design

    Also not an interior designer but a home builder here are a few tips

    -Learn how to give the client what they want/need, not necessarily what they ask for

    -Good communication and accountability go a long way in this business

    -A good portfolio and recommendations can take you far

    -Start small, don't take on more than you can handle.


    HU-212451943 thanked Sina Sadeddin Architectural Design
  • Storybook Home
    Not a Pro but: visuals are EVERYTHING. How someone thinks something will look and how it does can be very different. Become proficient with Photoshop or a modeling program and mock up everything. Go over small details like grout thickness so there are no ‘I assumed’ surprises. Get everything in writing and signed off on it with the customer.
    HU-212451943 thanked Storybook Home
  • HU-212451943

    Sina, Thank you so much, I love your tips! I want to take on small projects to build up confidence to have a great base to work from. I like your first tip. I have done spaces for family members and what they thought they wanted wasn't always best for their space. But I took their ideas and modified it to make it something they loved even more.

    Ashley, I defiantly want to get into some visuals. I am proficient with Photoshop but I am not currently using a modeling program. Would you recommend one? I can learn programs really quickly although I want to keep the costs down.

  • PRO
    Revolutionary Gardens

    What experience do you have with sales?

  • PRO

    First: from your Houzz page this single klller

    Typical Job Costs: $2,000 - 5,000
    The job cost will vary with each client, depending on which room, furnishings, art work, antiques etc. and how much time is dedicated to the project.

    That is screaming novice, hon. That's a RETAINER for someone who's been at it for five years. It's great to support the local community. I can only assume you are charging by the hour. I would highly recommend a sit down with some designers in your area. A sit down at a to the trade design center. A meeting with an accountant and a review of your finances, and how you plan to structure and make money in this business. There are many ways to structure fees, to profit, to write contracts, etc. Get some more help, before you launch. The fees above as listed on your page? They represent those of a newbie stylist. Not the designer you want to be. : )

  • PRO
    GN Builders L.L.C

    @Jan... as much as I love reading your comments I have to disagree with you. I think for her it's a good start and she is being honest, not to mention not many people pay attention to the typical cost because you can put anything there.

    If I was looking for a designer I would go with her before I go with someone who indicates 100k-1m Typical job cost, not to mention some have zilch experience and don't worth a dime :-)

    In her case with this numbers she will get customers with a lower budget and it will be a good way for her to start and get experience... This total job cost can be changed at any time.

  • PRO

    The larger point then is don't fill in with any numbers. THE MOST COMMON error in any business start up? Underestimating absolutely everything. From what you need to earn, to what it will cost to earn it, and underpaying yourself, and shallow start up pockets unless someone else is floating your boat. . The op seems to be headed that way : ) Get with some pro's in the local area who have been at it for some time.

  • PRO

    Are you opening a business because you think you have a flair for decorating or do you have schooling and a license?

  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC

    Most schools, even the ones that offer certificate programs as opposed to bachelor's degrees, will have a course in "Business Practices." Very important, as a design business is 25% creativity and 75% business know-how.

  • ilovecomputers

    Not a professional decorator, but former small business co-owner. I got fabulous advice from a tax attorney and I want to pass it on: Always do business things the right way. That is, if you hire employees and are required to carry workers compensation insurance or whatever, do so. Don't find shortcuts to circumventing doing things the right way. You will be able to sleep at night knowing that all is in order. Good luck.

  • HU-212451943

    @Revolutionary Gardens.. I have been working mostly in sales and accounting for 10 years. I have always had a passion for design/decor. As I have never had it be my main job, I am always the one everyone turns to for these types of things. I have always been told my communication skills over the phone and in person are on point. I grew up working in my aunt and uncles auction so i learned useful skills from a young age.

    @Jan.. I respect what you have to say but you seem to be reading into me with little information about my background or the demographic area that I am currently in. You are unaware of my business background and the skills i have obtained over the last 10 years. I understand jobs could cost more or less but when i made this profile i did so with the intentions of having constructive conversations with people who are knowledgeable in this area. I love learning and expanding my perception of things. I currently do not have anyone in my town or family/friends that has the ability to assist me in this. Therefore, I wasn't to concerned at this early stage the specifics of my profile. This is a marathon not a sprint.

    @GN Builders.. I appreciate what you had to say. I think dedication and an eye for detail can go a long way. I have an analytical mind and I am sharp with numbers. My last job, which was strictly sales, was all about knowing the product your customer wants and knowing the products that are related to them that the customer is unaware of. Also, If you can create a desire in your customer, you can supply it. Supply and Demand!

  • remodeling1840
    Most who start a little business are shocked to find they need insurance, a business license in their government locale, ( township, city, county and state.!), proper zoning to conduct business, an accountant who specializes in small business, and an attorney who specializes in setting up small businesses. Those who plan to use their home must deal with HOAs, neighbors who will not tolerate traffic and parking issues caused by a home-based business, and the client perception of amateur help. Business cards, websites, advertising, telephones, office furniture are only some of the start-up costs. Factor in the lack of income for he time it takes to break even. Your time is valuable, so discuss with your accountant how to charge. This is not a hobby. To protect yourself, you need umbrella and liability insurance. Your car needs commercial insurance and your homeowner’s policy needs a rider if you conduct work there. In Florida, we had to be licensed in EACH municipality in a county, in addition to a county license. Open a bank account for the business after you get your Federal tax ID number. Keep all receipts and not in a shoebox, but in files to make it easy for your accountant. You pay him by the hour so keep clear records. Use a computer bookkeeping program she recommends. Don’t be the decorator who came to pay her bill and said in her little girl voice, “He,he,he! I always write my checks in calligraphy!” So there she stood, wasting my time while she drew a check worthy of a wedding invitation.
  • HU-212451943

    I appreciate everyone's input and apologize for the poorly titled discussion but I am looking for design/decor advise as displayed in the first few comments.. I have the business side completely covered and would like to respectfully change this discussion away from business and how much time it takes. Thank you for your input.

  • PRO
    The Kitchen Abode Ltd.

    Please do not be discourage/frustrated by comments that may not be fully aligned with your current thinking. Every one will have differing experiences when they were on a similar path and a different business methodology, as such their advice will vary accordingly. Just take all of this as things to take into consideration.

    There are of course some essential basics that need to be seriously considered and addressed if you wish to maximize your chances of success, or at least to minimize something that could be catastrophic.

    One thing I'm not clear about is whether or not you have the proper accreditation as it relates to being an "Interior Designer". If not then you need to be very careful that you do not misrepresent yourself, "Interior Designer" is a professional designation and as such non accredited individuals can't use or imply that they are "Interior Designers".

  • Lisa

    So if I understand you, you are looking for input about your design ideas?

  • PRO
    Zone 4 Architects, LLC

    Here are some things that our firm likes to see when working with an interior designer/decorator:

    -Be able to produce sketches/drawings/models of your design concepts. If you don't have those skills yet, find a contract drafter/modeler to work with you to produce. It is very difficult for everyone on the team to execute a verbal description of a concept and get it right- even though that may satisfy the client. It also adds a lot of time to everyone else's workload which they may not have planned for.

    -Be organized: Most issues with ID's that we encounter are because they do not have a good way to organize and update information on projects. Specifications can and do change for any number of reasons, and the decision making process might go on for years.

    -Be honest and communicative with everyone on the team about what you will/can and won't/can't do. There are times where people assume that someone is handling a particular task or design because someone did that on another project.

    -The ID's who are able to manage themselves well, also seem to be able to manage their client's and the team well also. Design may be the fun part, but a successful business is built on good management. Your clients will come from your marketing, but unless you are a particularly amazing salesperson, you are likely to get more projects through referrals and networking. The better you are to work with, the more of that you will see.

    Good luck to you!

  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC

    So it seems we all misinterpreted what you need advice on. Could you please illuminate us on what you'd like to know? And do you have ANY design education?

  • PRO
    The Kitchen Abode Ltd.

    In business everything you do is business related, you can't separate this out, it's all part of the same package. Putting together a project portfolio is part of your sales & marketing strategy. What this is comprised of is dictated by who your anticipated(target) audience is and what is it that they need to see in order to be attracted to do business with you. The quality and types of pics/samples you present will reflect upon your audiences view of your talents and potentially how expensive you may be. The same applies to your website, it's structure, pics and commentary will portray, intentionally or not, a particular image about you and your business. It's really important to understand that it is not how you view yourself, it's how your audience views you. I may personally think that my website is really great, but my website is intended to drive business to me so the real test is whether or not my audience thinks my website is great. This reality can be a hard swallow, you need to try very hard to distance your personal feelings from these decisions so you can make the best decision for your business.

  • PRO

    So start by learning what your state's requirements are for interior designers. It would appear that being an interior designer requires a license in New Mexico.

    • "The function of the Board of Interior Design is to license interior designers working in New Mexico. The Interior Design Act provides that no person may use or be identified by the title “Licensed Interior Designer” unless they are licensed with the State of New Mexico. "

  • PRO


    However, you can purchase a Decorating Den Franchise if the area of your state is not currently covered by another franchise.

    Just as an aside, based on your location, the median household income of $34k would not indicate the town has a population which can support a design business unless you are located next to a larger more affluent area that has a need for your talents.

Need help with an existing Houzz order? Call 1-800-368-4268 (Mon-Sun).