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Steps to Starting Your Interior Design Firm

Diana Mahoney | The Design Partner

Managing Your Business

Most businesses are challenged to manage time efficiently and effectively. The balance between designing, marketing, and administering is difficult to achieve, and having a personal life only makes the need for balance more critical.

Managing entails taking care of the three P’s: people, planning and processes. Balance involves three P’s, too: professional, personal and place. There is no formula for success, but attention needs to be given to each.

How will you find the balance between professional and personal? Achieving balance is easier when you have a clear purpose. What are the priorities for your business, for your life? Look for ways your business can support your life priorites (money, people, travel) and ways your life can support your business priorities (contacts, inspiration).

What people will be involved in your business? Business management experts and scholars often say that “people are the most important asset of any business.” Sole proprietors certainly agree, but leaders of huge enterprises do, too. Indeed they are leading people whose ideas and effort produce successful results, so the choices are critical about who those people are and what they are prepared and expected to do. Who should be chosen to be involved in your business?

• How should they be involved in your business?
• How will the business be administered?

For many designers, the “dirty business” of being in business is all the left-brain stuff: project management, purchasing, accounting, payroll, etc. How much do you want to do yourself? What is it worth to have someone do it for you?

• Where will the business be conducted?
Work at home? Establish a studio or boutique? These and other considerations will determine the best location for the business. One of those considerations when building a brand is its “place.” The location, destination, access to or threshold for a brand reflects the essence of the brand. Interior designers certainly know the importance of place. Form and function intersect visibly in a designer’s place of business—forming the stature of the brand and functioning as a creative green house.

• How will the business earn the rewards from design?
The value of your brand deserves just reward. What should the return be on your investment in your business? How should you be compensated?

Next: Planning for the Future →

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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