Nearly 13 years ago when I launched my entrepreneurial journey as an interior designer, I had so many things I worried would happen. At first, it was scary.
- What if a client fires me?
- What if I mess something up and it costs me money?
- What if I don’t get any clients
- What if my client turns out to be a red flag?
- What if one of my trades messes up my job and ruins my reputation!
The truth is, ALL of this has happened at some point along the way. And you know what? I’m okay. My reputation is still good and I still have a steady stream of clients.
No matter where you are in your journey of running your interior design business, know that there will be times when it feels like shit has hit the fan. You will want to crawl into a hole, wave your white flag, and book a flight to the most remote island you can access.
Today I want to talk about setting yourself up to be able to cope with these moments without viewing the whole thing as a disaster.
Starting (and running) your own business takes courage. Know there will be times when you screw up, when someone lets you down, and things will happen beyond your control. You will have clients who make you question yourself and your abilities.
I want you to stand in your space and not let these inevitable moments shake you to your core.
How you handle these moments is the difference between thriving and surviving.
#1 – Accept mistakes as part of the process
Talk to any successful designer and they will tell you they have had their share of mistakes. I’m a huge Brene Brown fan and I love this quote.
“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”
When these moments happen you may have to go to a client or a vendor to apologise. You may have to fire someone who isn’t a good fit. You may have to pay for something you weren’t planning on. Do it. Learn from it. And move on.
#2 – Be Selective With the Clients You Take On
You can’t do this soon enough. If you are a young designer you may be eager to take on any project or client that walks through the door. But you also need to be looking for red flags. If you sense you are dealing with someone who has unrealistic expectations in terms of timelines, budgets, or the process you follow, you could be setting yourself up for some ongoing stress. Look for clients who are flexible, seek to understand how the process will work, are teachable, and trust you – even if you are just getting started.
#3 Hire for your weaknesses
The skill sets required to run full-service interior design projects require both creativity and analysis.
There are moments when creativity, flexibility, curiosity, and trying something new will be required. Other parts of running your business require strict attention to detail, follow-through, organization, and analysis. Most people are stronger in one area than another.
Hiring someone to help round out your team can dramatically improve your workflow and client experience.
#4 Perfectionism is Toxic
Many of us grew up in environments that encouraged perfectionism. This can be a hard mindset to break.
When you start to embrace imperfection, you can experience a flow that feels more confident and at ease. I like to set the expectations with clients early on, while we have a process that works, sometimes shit happens. But we are well-equipped to make changes, come up with creative solutions, and take those challenges on without losing our cool. Oftentimes, the results are even better.
Whether you are just thinking about starting your own interior design business, or if you have been at it a while, remember you don’t have to go it alone. Find a tribe you can turn to that can help support you along the way. The Interiors Insider Membership is a great place for you to find resources, group coaching, and fellow big-hearted interior designers to turn to no matter what you are facing in your business.