3 Tips for Nascent Designers from Alison Reuter
For those just starting out, Reuter offers these three suggestions for succeeding fast and well:
Understand the Business
“Do not go into a business willy-nilly,” she advises.“You have to understand the numbers even if you hire a bookkeeper, which I think is the second most important thing that one can do in a business.”
The first is to take care of yourself. “I always like to say outsource first by getting a housekeeper, it'll free up more time for you to focus on your business.” Then, sit down with a bookkeeper and learn about the profit and loss statement, balance sheet and other crucial financials. “Truly understanding how all of that works is hands down one of the best things somebody can do from day one,” she says.
Lean on Others
“I've got 20 plus almost 30 years of business experience under my belt. I have an international business degree, and I've worked for Fortune 500 companies as well as for myself. I still hired a business coach,” she says.
“Something that she (Reuter’s business coach) does say a fair amount - and I totally agree with - is that ‘a rising tide lifts all ships,’” she says. “The interior design business does not need to be secret. The more we help each other, and the more we mentor, lift one another up, and share our best practices for business, at the end of the day, we are lifting up our industry, and helping all of us succeed - ‘community over competition’.”
Technology is Your Friend
Reuter learned the ways designers, architects, builders and other home pros harness the power of software to manage their business while studying for a master’s degree in interior architecture and design at the Heritage School of Interior Design.
“It was something I researched and found on my own because I was thinking, ‘This is insane. I'm not going to sleep for the next six weeks if I don't have something to help me be more efficient,’” she says. “I started rooting around online and talking to other designers in the industry asking, ‘What software do you use?’” She created a spreadsheet comparing the options.
“Ultimately I landed on Houzz Pro. I did the 30-day trial while I was in school and used that to help me get my final projects done. She still uses it today. “Being process & efficiency oriented I don't like touching stuff (documenting) more than once and the way the software's been developed, it's very intuitive and very linked.”