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Steps to Starting Your Interior Design Firm

Diana Mahoney | The Design Partner

Good design is very intentional

There is very little room for ambiguity. Design is conceived, plans are crafted, and choices are made. Businesses are intentional endeavors, too. The most successful strive to unite good plans with good choices.

Interior design professionals (or any entrepreneur for that matter) should answer these types of questions about their businesses:

• What is my intention?
• How do I plan accordingly?
• What should my business mean to me, now and in the future?

Searching for answers to those questions invites further questions:

• Do I want my business to be a basic low-cost shopping service or a professional studio?
• Do I want it to have a brand that says “competent and affordable” or one that is demonstrably superior and pleasingly different from most of the rest?

There are markets for both.

• Do I intend to control my business destiny or be controlled by the market?
• Do I want to select my next best client or be selected by whoever comes along next?

The choice is yours.

• What’s my value?
• Am I worthy or worth-too-little?
You determine the answer, if you are intentionally special and different. Risk is always right around the corner. Do I have the stomach for it? Can I endure the uncertainty of an unstable income? Am I thrilled at the thought of winning the big new client, being recognized for my design and earning the rewards that come from assuming the risk?

• How will I measure my success: money, quality of life, stature, fame?
• How will I know when I have achieved it?

There are all of these questions, and more.

• How will I balance and integrate my professional life, personal life, parenting, parent-caregiving, pets and other priorities? • What are life’s daily priorities for me? • Can I design, run a business and meet all my responsibilities?

In addition to trying to answer alone many of these questions, or even asking the right questions, consider working with a partner or mentor or consulting with a coach or consultant—those indispensable people whose wisdom and experience help entrepreneurs plan ahead and act accordingly.

So, what do we want out of all this? One thing is certain: We will only have more of the same unless we resolve our own intention to succeed. We need the courage to create a vision, plan our work, work our plan, and always live it.

Next: Do You Have What It Takes? →

Featured Author: Diana Mahoney
Diana Mahoney has worked in the design industry since the late 1980s. Taking her career skill-set of clothing design and production, sourcing textiles, color and interior design, and retail marketing, Diana created a business for herself in this niche market as a home design writer and sole proprietor of, The Design Partner (est. 2002). Collaborating with her clients to create beautiful living places and working freelance as a home design writer is a dream realized for Diana.

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