They Ask for Advice
Interior design has always been a secretive profession: hiding our sources, protecting our trade secrets and creating the illusion that everything is fantastic has been the norm. Running this sort of business is no longer productive. The most successful interior designers know they don't know everything and know when to ask for advice. When interior designers thrive, the interior design industry thrives. So why would you not want to help out your fellow designers if it'll help you too?
So here is my advice, don't be afraid to reach out to another designer in a professional and reciprocal way. Don't just look for handouts, offer to share something of your own. You can learn a lot from working for another designer, something I always recommend to those starting a interior design business. You can also look outside the interior design field. Seek a mentor. Reach out to an old professor. Ask your successful client, the one that has the big budget, their best advice on running a business. There is so much wisdom around us, which brings me to the next habit.
They're Always Learning
Education doesn't stop when you get your degree and the most successful interior designers know that. There is always something to be learned about your craft and about running your business. My former boss was always reading, always studying auction catalogs, and carried an immense amount of printed research around with him. He was squeezing learning into car rides, plane trips, and anywhere else he had a few minutes. Here are my favorite books about running an interior design business when you set time aside for learning.
ASID has CEUs, there are courses at community college, and whole libraries filled with ideas for you to consume. If learning about the business of design is of interest to you, I have a course on designing and building your dream interior design business.
They Write Everything Down
In our current culture of tech and speed, one of the best habits you can have now is to write everything down. Keep good records. There are a million different parts that go into designing and building a house, don't rely on your memory to retain all of them. Pick a central location (like Evernote or old fashioned notebook) and write down notes from meetings, from phone calls, from text messages.
This habit is good for many reasons. The act of putting pen to paper help you retain the information. It also creates space in your head for other things (hello creativity!) and creates a record for you to refer to. Keeping records are a business-saver because they can protect you when something happens on a project. Get into the habit of writing down everything. Everything. From the most mundane to the extraordinary.
They Act Like the CEO
Most of us run our design businesses with just a small team of people. Maybe it is a team of one, but it is still a team. You still have to "wear different hats" as they say and perform the duties of different "team members". You could be the bookkeeper for 30 minutes, then be a senior designer the next two hours, followed by the human resources coordinator, and personal assistant. But are you ever carving out time to be the CEO of your business? The most successful interior designers wear this hat and they wear it regularly.
CEOs are responsible for the overall health of a company, for making sure that it stays on track and accomplishes set goals. They are responsible for high-level decisions and ensuring that it is profitable. This is time that you are not working on interior design, this is time that you are working on the business. Being the CEO is a habit, it is something that is done regularly and consistently to bring success and focus to the business.
They Take Breaks
Interior design is a creative business. Creativity doesn't flourish under pressure. You can't force creativity. You're not going to get the flash of inspiration when you're jumping from task to task.
It's been scientifically proven that the human brain isn't meant to stay focused for extended periods of time. It can actually make you less productive to focus on a task too long. You need time to recharge, taking time away can give us a different perspective.
The most successful designers don't let themselves run on empty, they take time out to recharge their energy and creativity. By doing so they can return to work feeling renewed and do better, more productive work.