So, you want to scale your business this year? Or maybe next. Or sometime in the future.
Some people start their interior design business without any idea of where they ultimately want to take their business, they may not even realize they are actually starting a business. They are just working IN their business, head down, trying to get something off the ground. And often, the business takes off because of all their hard work and they are just along for the ride, rather than steering the ship.
So first, you need to steer the ship.
Steer Your Ship
This means knowing where you want your business to grow to in the next year, five years, ten years. Do you want employees? How many hours are you working? How many projects are you doing? What does your work day look like? You can’t scale to something without knowing what you’re reaching towards.
You might want to start by crafting your Mission & Vision Statements. This gives your interior design business a purpose and a way you’ll achieve that purpose. Clarity is the name of the game when running a business. When you’re clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It makes the actual execution and decision-making process much clearer.
Create a System for Everything
Almost anything in your business can be systemized. There can be steps and processes for everything that you do. The bigger the business the more important these systems are. Systems are important because you can’t do everything. To scale your interior design business you need to have other people efficiently execute your business tasks. This starts with systems and writing down everything you do, refining it, and then distill it down to its most condensed version. Essentially, you want your business to be a lean, mean, system machine. The more that you can reduce the time tasks take in your business the more money you can make, because you’ll be more productive in a shorter time.
Learn more about Designing Business Systems
Recommended Reading: The E-Myth Revisited
Be a Manager
Part of scaling your business is becoming a manager, the more people you have working for your business the more you need to be a manager. You can’t hole up in your office doing design work and not oversee the rest of your business. So you need to determine what role you want to play - Creative or Executive - and in what mix, then hire people to take up the roles that you’re not. It’s why I don’t recommend hiring an “assistant” first when you’re scaling your business. Usually hiring an accountant or bookkeeper is going to get you the best output.
Filling the gaps in your knowledge or expertise will help you scale your business. Now, this is really important because more and more in today’s current interior design climate, I am seeing efficiency as a top indicator of profitability in design firms. You want to hire someone who can do work better and faster than you. Someone who is better at accounting, marketing, social media, business management, drafting, sourcing, etc.
Part of being a manager is properly training the people that you hire. This comes back to systems. And this really isn’t optional, because getting bigger always means hiring help, in some form. It could be contractors, in person or virtual; employees, in person or virtual; or interns. Again, the more efficient you can be in training people from the get-go the faster you can get them working at optimal levels. This requires less work for contractors because they are already proficient in their their specialty. So remember training is just as important as outsourcing or hiring.
Next Steps: Discover where you want to take your business, then systemize it, hire people to execute your systems, and make sure that you are training them effectively.