As reality TV has brought home renovation to millions of viewers, the interior design industry has been booming and shows little signs of slowing. Like any business, the planning process can be broken into three distinct segments: Creativity and vision, financial and legal, and branding and marketing are the essential pieces in an interior design business model. These segments are critical in establishing an interior design business plan that will produce success.
Creativity and vision is the first objective of the future interior design business owner. The first stage of the business is to determine what particular services you will offer. Understanding your design style and what type of clients you plan to target is essential. For instance, will you be focusing on domestic or commercial designs? Are you specializing in indoor or outdoor areas? Are you focusing on designing certain rooms such as kitchens or baths?
Success of your business is built upon a firm vision on what is your identity as an interior designer. In other words, find your niche, your style, your service, and your target clients.
What Skills Do You Need to Be an Interior Designer
A successful interior designer has a variety of skills at their disposal. Aside from creativity and vision, an interior designer also needs to have a strong sense of spatial awareness and a keen eye for detail. Understanding colors and textures are important to the creativity and artistry of the profession. While drawing has been an essential component of the design process, interior designers now need to have a foundation in utilizing a variety of software design tools such as AutoCAD, Vectorworks, or Live Home 3D.
Interior designers also need strong communication and organizational skills. Communication is key as it is necessary to communicate with others throughout the construction process. Interior designers must be able to present and communicate effectively with clients, contractors, and vendors. A successful interior designer must also possess strong active listening and negotiation skills. Coupled with communication is organizational skills. Coordinating with contractors and suppliers to stay on schedule and within the budget is critical to your successes as an interior designer business.
There are a variety of means to help you improve your skills for interior design. Joining professional organizations is a great way to improve and develop your skill sets. Organizations such as American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) or the Interior Design Society (IDS) can be a wealth of professional development opportunities. Another method of skill development can be through earning certifications within the industry and also continuing your education through coursework, seminars, and workshops.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Be an Interior Designer?
Interior designers are required to hold at least a two-year (Associates) degree in Interior Design or a 4-year (Bachelors) degree. Aside from a strong skill set, interior designers must have a strong knowledge base in building codes and construction laws. For individuals entering the interior design business, a degree in interior design will incorporate many of the core content areas and skill sets required by the industry. The gold-standard certification in interior design is through the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. To qualify for the exam, you must either have an Associates degree plus 3 years of full-time work experience, or a Bachelor’s degree plus 2 years of full-time employment. Some states require licensing for interior designers pending the size and scope of the projects they are working on.
Many colleges and universities offer interior design programs of study. Some schools are now offering on-line and self-paced certificate programs for students. Today, post-secondary institutions are offering a variety of methods to earn the qualifications needed to become a certified interior designer.
After all of your educational requirements are met, you will want to put together an interior designer business plan before you begin. Talk to an interior design insurance agent about your interior design business goals. Our experienced agents are happy to explain why interior designers need insurance.
What to Include in an Interior Design Business Plan
Establishing a business plan will help provide a framework for your enterprise and keep your efforts aligned to your vision. Business plans for interior designers are critical in helping you explain and promote your business to others. They must be drafted in a manner that is comprehensible for potential clients and provides a clear concise description of your business. It’s important to have a firm grasp on the competitive nature of your market and provide realistic expectations of your services.
When starting an interior design business, creating a business plan can seem like a laborious task, but it will certainly pay dividends in the future. Clear and concise plans will serve you well as you enter the industry. Your business plan should include the following:
1. A business summary : Your summary should be an overview of your interior design’s business. It should answer questions such as what your business does, what is your target audience, and what sets you apart from your competition. This portion of your plan should include your mission statement and your goals and objectives.
2. Your biography: It’s important to share information about yourself, the business owner. Your education, your training and qualifications, any unique experiences that you have to offer potential clients are helpful to share.
3. Your business’s services and structure: Your business plan should include the different services and products you are providing to your clients. It’s also important to identify the personnel roles in your business and your suppliers. Whether you are the sole employee or a key person, you will want to properly insure all interior designers.
4. Marketing Strategies: Identifying your marketing strategies and marketing components are critical to the effectiveness of your business plan. Developing your market strategy should be based on the type of client you are focusing your efforts on, for instance are you marketing to residential or commercial customers? You should also have knowledge of the current and future market trends as well as your competition in similar markets. Differentiating your business from the competition by identifying your unique selling proposition (USP) should be outlined in your business plan.
5. Business Operations: Your interior design business plan needs to outline and define how it will operate from day to day. Licensure, insurance, equipment, and expenditures are some of the necessities that need to be accounted for operation. Payment options are also integral to this part of the plan. Also as part of business operations is an understanding of financial forecasting. The ability to foresee sales, profit, and cash flow needs to be identified for effective business operation.
What’s Next in Starting an Interior Design Business?
Once you have the creativity and the vision, PenEx can help you get your interior design business off the ground. Have your business plan ready? Speak to one of the experts at PenEx or stay tuned for our next installments in our “How to Start an Interior Design Business” series as we’ll discuss more on the financial, legal, branding and market elements in your new enterprise. If you have more questions regarding your new interior design business, contact PenEx today and let us guide you along the way.