Is there a 'best time of year' to start a business?
There is no perfect time of year to start a business; it really depends on how long it will take you to set up. You should aim to be fully up and running during the more productive times of year, avoiding the summer holidays in particular when many suppliers are closed. The best advice we can give is to plan ahead and consider when your prospective clients are likely to be open to building new relationships and starting new projects.
How do I ensure I stay inspired, and don't burn out?
Visit as many showrooms as you can. The Chelsea Design Centre is a wonderful place to get new ideas and keep up with the latest interior design trends. London Design Week, Decorex, 100% Design and shows like this are the perfect places to meet suppliers and network. If you have the chance, we would recommend investing in at least one international trade show per year like Maison et Object in Paris or Il Salone in Milan.
How do I get my first client?
Our first client was actually a neighbour and then we supplied some pieces for Ana's own home. These two small projects were a great test run, giving us the confidence to start marketing to London-based interior designers. It's really important to build a strong social media presence and to think carefully about how you position your company and brand.
Are there any particular pieces of technology I need before launching my design start-up?
We would strongly recommend investing in a good website. This will be the face of your business and first impressions really do count, especially in a visual industry! It's also essential to have a good accounting platform in place from the start (we use QuickBooks). Project management tools like Asana, which is free, can also be very helpful. Most of the interior designers we work with use Esti Mac, so this seems to be a great tool as well!
Is there a right and wrong way to source suppliers?
We met a number of our suppliers at trade shows, but by far the best way is through recommendations and word of mouth. Establishing supplier relationships based on trust, shared values and commitment to customer service has been crucial in the success of our business.