Is there a 'best time of year' to start a business?
We have not noticed an up or a down period – we’ve found it’s more dependent on how strong the housing market is and when people are most likely to move. If sales are high in the spring, people will be looking to add a special touch to their new home soon after they move in. The important thing is not to wait for a particular moment, just get out there. As soon as you have a website with a portfolio, start your marketing using all the best social platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. But don’t worry about having to service them all. You’ll soon find one where the audience is more responsive and you can concentrate on that one, keeping the others in the background.
How do I ensure I stay inspired, and don't burn out?
We can all get stuck in a rut. If you can, get out from behind the desk. Go visit showrooms, fabric companies and trade shows – they are all bursting with inspiration. For some, a simple walk or a visit to an art gallery shakes things up and for others, allowing themselves time off to meet with friends keeps them energised. Find your ‘out’ and try to do it regularly before it all stacks up against you.
How do I get my first client?
Following on from the first question, in the beginning, social media is your main PR outlet and a relatively cheap way of getting your name out there and building your brand. Another tried and tested method is to tell everyone you know that you’ve started a new business – you never know where that first commission might come from: a friend or family member, or even someone you worked with years ago. Don’t discount any possibility.
Are there any particular pieces of technology I need before launching my design startup?
For us, InDesign, Photoshop and Quickbooks are invaluable. You can pay for them by monthly subscription, so the initial outlay is not huge – or doesn’t seem to be anyway.
Is there a right and wrong way to source suppliers?
Face-to-face meetings tend to be the best – you can establish a rapport with them and see if you are on the same wavelength. Try to do much of the legwork upfront. Even if the commissions aren’t rolling in, this is the time to set up trade accounts and meet tradesmen. When the clients do come calling, you need to be ready to move quickly and efficiently.