Why Your First Hire Shouldn't Be An Assistant

Your first instinct as an interior design business owner is to hire an assistant when things get busy, but that may not be the best move for your business.  Find out who to consider hiring before an assistant.  

Often, when you start an interior design business and begin approaching the threshold of too much for one person to handle, the first person interior designers want to turn to is an assistant.  Naturally, they want to clone themselves and have another doing the work they are doing.  This could be a mistake.

Don't Hire An Assistant, Yet

When you start a small interior design business the first people you should hire are those that can complement your skills, do what you can't do, do what you don't like to do, do what you're not good at.  These are the people who you want to hire.  These are the people who can take things off of your plate that probably take up the most time or are the things that you avoid doing.

Even when interior design business owners need help, they avoid hiring because they can't take the time to properly find and train someone.

This means that you could be deep in the weeds and need assistance, but be too busy trying to get yourself out of the weeds to find someone to help you get out of the weeds.

However, if you hire someone who is already trained in their craft, they know what needs to be done, usually better than you do.  You can hand over tasks with minimal oversight.

Another bonus is that you can hire without being an employer.  There are very specific rules for independent contractors vs. employees, but generally an assistant/ intern/ junior designer will all be classified as employees and you will be required to withhold taxes, pay into unemployment tax, carry workman's comp, and other employer-related tasks that you probably don't have time to deal with properly if you're already in the weeds.

Who You Should Hire

That said, here are some people who you should consider hiring before you hire an assistant or junior designer.  

  • Bookkeeper: Daily invoicing and bill paying.  Someone to pay your sales tax.  Can be the same person or a different person than your accountant.  Read more about interior design programs.  
  • Accountant: You could have a bookkeeping for your daily invoicing and bill paying and you could have an accountant for all tax related questions, including withholding tax, sales tax, and year-end taxes.  
  • Lawyer:  This person becomes even more valuable if you have employees. Someone to draft your contract and protect your business.  
  • Social Media:  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Blogging.  Social media is very time-consuming and there are marketers that specialize in this.  Someone can create content for you and schedule it.  
  • Movers/Courier: Most likely you'll be hauling more stuff than you really want to.  It is important to have movers than can perform installations for you and pick up large items.  You may also want to get a courier on speed-dial to do smaller jobs you don't have time for. 
  • Insurance Agent: You absolutely need business insurance.  You also want to make sure that the homeowners and anyone working on the project have proper insurance.  Get an agent to help you wade through your options and how to protect yourself. 
  • Website Developer/ Graphic Designer: Your website is your #1 marketing tool.  This is a great thing to hire out because it is a whole new set of skills that you may not have or may not be the best use of your time right now.  When your site is up and running, it will also need to be maintained.  Something you can easily delegate to a consultant.  
  • CAD/Renderer: Likely someone is faster and better at drafting plans and renderings than you.  Outsource it.

Who else is instrumental to your interior design business team?

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