It starts with a plan
Writing up a business plan for the interior decorating company should be step one. Determine whether you are going to be a product-driven designer that conceptualises the layout and sells essential products to the customer, or merely a consultant who doesn’t sell products. Designers with less experience generally start out as product-driven designers. Research other decorating businesses in your area to find out what they specialise in, how much they charge and what their designs look like. Consider how you can set yourself apart from other design firms by offering a different kind of design, specialising in particular types of design, such as Colonial, offering lower prices or by focusing in specific areas like window treatments or usage of colour and light. Make a list of gear you will need to begin and ascertain how much capital you’ll need.
The practical preliminaries
Apply for a business license by visiting the local town hall or county clerk’s office to complete an application, or do it online if that is an available option on your jurisdiction. If you plan or expect to hire other people, subcontract to a builder or to build credit under the business’ name instead of your own, you will also have to apply for an Employer Identification Number or EIN from the Internal Revenue Service.
Making Business Contacts
You will also need to connect with providers. Research companies who manufacture floors, fabrics, carpeting, wall coverings and furniture, or providers that represent a number of lines. Interior decorators can get discounts of up to 50 percent from particular manufacturers, so shop around to find out who will provide you the best prices. This way you are able to pass savings on to your customers. Also contact painters and carpenters to discover their prices for designers. You’ll need them occasionally to finish your layouts, and consequently they could become sources of new jobs for you.
Preparing to launch
Invest in basic office requirements, like a computer, phone and word processing program. You may also want to buy specialised interior design software so that you can present professional-looking layouts to your customers. You’re going to want books of wallpaper, paint and carpet samples from the producers you have chosen use. Avoid fabric and wallpaper companies that require you to obtain samples every month. Your first customers will want to see a portfolio of your work, so begin by redecorating your own house and taking before and after images of the improvements you make. Volunteer to redecorate for family and friends, using the broadest appropriate assortment of styles and techniques, and take pictures of those projects as you work. Choose 15 to 20 photos that you feel best represent your work and place them in a physical or digital album. Insert letters of recommendation from people whose houses you’ve worked on.
The Tough part
Market yourself – this can often be the hardest aspect of the exercise. Network with other professionals, like architects, realtors and home furnishing companies who might provide you with business referrals. List your company in your local phone book and in print and online versions of local newspapers and other publications. Create a web site or a business Facebook page, and post images from your portfolio. Use Twitter and Instagram to send before and after shots of your tasks, or of work in advance, to build curiosity. Create brochures and business cards to hand out to prospective clients, and be certain you take your portfolio with you when seeing interested individuals.