Is there a 'best time of year' to start a business?
Whilst it is important to be aware of the waves in the market, I strongly believe the best time to start a business is when you feel ready and are confident in your idea. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says it well: ‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late’. While I’m not trying to encourage you to rush things, don’t wait for the ‘perfect time’ as it might never come. Instead, gather your enthusiasm and strength and start your business. There are always lessons to be learned and things to polish, but the best way to start is to go and do it.
How do I ensure I stay inspired, and don't burn out?
I have found the best way to get a good dose of inspiration is to allow myself to do things I love, those things that first drew me into interior design. It is easy to lose balance and work all the time but taking time out to do simple things that fuel your creativity can have a great impact on your designs and those of your team (if you have one). Create a list of places you want to visit, like museums, showrooms and restaurants, and be a tourist in your own city. Be open-minded and do something you love, or something different every now and then. Inspiration can come from unexpected places.
How do I get my first client?
Networking is one of the best routes – put the word out that you are an interior designer. People need to know you have wonderful ideas. Social media is a great place to start to showcase your work and communicate your message. You don’t have to be on every platform, but you do have to be current and active on the ones you decide to work with. Get amazing photographs of your work and show them. Many designers have started showing work done in their own homes, where they have been free to create and communicate their personal style and taste.
Are there any particular pieces of technology I need before launching my design start-up?
Think about how you would like to present your designs and how it be would easiest for you to keep on top of orders and invoices. To present designs, I recommend using InDesign. The look of my proposals has gone to another level with a very simple and clean template. Estimac helps you with everything behind the scenes, but there are many software options that suit a range of different businesses and budgets.
Is there a right and wrong way to source suppliers?
Whichever way feels most comfortable is the right way. You can meet people in person or use specialised platforms where everything is done online. I prefer face-to-face meetings and I can then start building rapport through small projects or commissions. Trade shows are great because you see many companies with the latest trends and products in a single place. When it comes to tradesmen, I usually recommend only companies that I have worked with in the past or who come highly recommended by fellow designers.
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