It’s always been your dream to pursue a creative career such as wedding planning or interior decorating. You feel confident in your artistic talents and you have a natural eye for design. But you hesitate to dive in because you find yourself worried about the business elements of these career paths. How do you actually start a legitimate business? What legal documents do you need? Are you required to get some type of certification in order to start working with real clients? All the logistics seem overwhelming and out of reach, and you don’t think it’s realistically something you could do on your own.
But the truth is, there are no limits to who can become a successful entrepreneur. A new report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) sponsored by Babson and Baruch College found that 27 million working-age Americans started or ran their own new businesses in 2018 alone. That’s nearly 14 percent of the country’s population- and there’s no reason why you can’t be included with these new business owners. It just takes a little research to determine what things you need to prepare in order to start your own business. The following is a preliminary checklist you can use as a guide while preparing for this exciting professional adventure:
Do a Self-Evaluation
The most basic thing you need to ask yourself before diving in is what type of business you’re interested in running. Let’s say you have always been interested in home decorating, and you would like to start your own interior design business in your local area.
Once you’re certain of the industry you’re trying to work in, you need to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. While you may be confident in your design skills, do you struggle with client-facing skills and communication? Do you have a hard time putting together contracts, meeting with clients and preparing budget reports?
Try to make a list of all the things you know you’ll need to do in order to work as a professional interior designer- everything from hosting a consultation to drawing a floor plan to networking with vendors. Be honest with yourself about which things you know how to do and which ones you do not- then be sure to find proper interior design or business training in order to close any gaps in your capabilities.
It’s possible you aren’t even entirely sure of everything a professional interior designer needs to know before getting started. If you enroll in an interior design course like NYIAD’s, your curriculum will walk you through the entire process of starting an interior design business from start to finish. From learning design history in unit 1 to putting together your beginner’s portfolio and your first website in units 4 and 5, your mentors (all experienced, working interior designers who have successfully launched businesses of their own), will walk you through every step of the process to be sure you don’t leave anything out.
Evaluate Your Surroundings
Depending on where you are located, it can be incredibly helpful to do a little research into what’s going on nearby in terms of the industry you’re looking to get into.
Are any other local designers already doing what you want to start doing? How does it seem to be going for them? How many clients, and what type of clients are they serving? Do you notice anything that seems to be working well for them, or alternatively do you notice anywhere they seem to be falling short? If you can identify gaps in the industry that need filling in your area, you’ll have a lot more luck serving clients in need, as opposed to competing with existing designers for work.
Let’s say you do not have a preference in terms of commercial versus residential design, but you notice a locally established designer seems to do a great deal of work for local business owners. Rather than competing to do the same thing, consider presenting yourself to the local market as someone who specializes specifically in residential versus commercial interior design. You might even consider reaching out to this commercial designer, introducing yourself and establishing a rapport in which you can refer each other work.
Establish The Logistics
Once you have a better idea of what you’re capable of and where you fit into the local industry, it’s helpful to get any and all of the legal aspects out of the way early. This is where a course like NYIAD’s, as well as the mentorship provided, can be extremely helpful.
Our course will walk you through all the documentation and paperwork you’ll need to complete in order to start your own business the right way. Beyond that, as you’re getting your business in order, if you ever run into any problems in the business department, you always have the ability to call your mentor any time Monday-Friday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST in order to ask for help. That way, you never have to worry that you’ve done something wrong, you’ve filled out the wrong documents, or you aren’t taking the proper steps to establish yourself as a professional interior designer.
If taking a course like NYIAD’s is something you think could help you get started in your creative career, feel free to call 1-800-583-1742 at any time in order to ask for more information on how it works, to speak with your future mentors, or to ask for help getting started.