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Steps to Starting Your Interior Design Firm

Diana Mahoney | The Design Partner



Purpose of the Business



Get to the heart of the matter: What is the business really meant to be, now and in the future? Full-time or part-time? Professionally rewarding or personally gratifying? Livelihood or lifestyle?

How will business aspirations affect decisions about new opportunities, new clients, and new directions for the business?

How should the business be integrated into one’s personal life? Parenting life? Pets’ life? Philanthropic life?

Overall Profile of the Business



What is the current market situation for your business? Ask those who know your market or specialty (prospective clients, realtors, architects, retailers and wholesalers, bankers and lenders, even other interior designers) these questions:

• How strong is the market for interior design / your specialty in your area?
• Who currently is providing services to those clients (i.e., your competitors)? How successful are they?
• What new opportunities or service gaps might your business capitalize on?
• How will you be different from the rest?
• Generalist vs. specialist
• Services offered
• Customer service / added value
• Professionalism: qualifications, education, appellation, license to practice
• How will success be measured in the first 90 days? In the first year? In the first three years?
• What are the standards for design?
• What will be the hallmarks of the design work?
• What is the design capacity?
• How will design be inspired and improved over time?

Marketing, Promotion and Brand Development


• What is the essence of the business brand?
• What is the role of “best” clients, and why?
• How should a marketing message be developed and implemented?
• What should the marketing tools be?

Business Organization and Systems


What constitutes the essential business process and supporting infrastructure?
Who is involved, in what role and with what responsibility?
How manage time and money efficiently and effectively?
How earn financial rewards?

Next: Financing →

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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