What to Know Before You Start an Interior Design Business

experienced designers share what is important to know before you dive into this crazy world of running a design business.  

I can be my own boss!  I can make my own hours!  I can do what I want! These are probably the thoughts that are at the forefront of any fledgling business owner's mind.

But before you go down that path, here is what you really need to know about starting an interior design business. 

You are the boss.

Yes, you can take 2-hour lunches and Fridays off, but you are also the beginning and the end of all work.  It is your job to procure jobs and to keep them coming in and you are also the last word when trouble arises.  Everything falls on your shoulders.  You are the one who has to have difficult talks with clients, you are the one that has to solve (and sometimes pay) for problems and mistakes.  You are the face of the company and must act like the CEO.


It is a good thing everyone loves doing taxes because you'll be doing them a lot more.  It is your job to pay sales tax monthly.  You'll also be paying withholding taxes by paycheck or quarterly, but not only will you be paying taxes based on your income, but because you are the boss, you're also paying the employer portion of income taxes.  Awesome, isn't it?

You could be sued.

This is probably (hopefully) a long shot.  You probably won't be sued, but the possibility is there.  And before you start a business that is something you should know.  You're the boss, everything is resting on your shoulders.  If a client is unhappy, whether you're at fault at not, you could be sued.  Then you have a chance to prove that you're not at fault in court, but before then you'll probably be stressed out, worried, and overwhelmed trying to prove your case.  I just want you to be aware that this is a possibility.

You'll be Herding Cats.

Have you heard that expression, herding cats?  Working with clients can be a bit like herding cats sometimes, meaning that you can't get them to listen, to do what you want, to take your direction, or to follow your lead.  Even if you love cats, they have minds of their own and it can be hard to get everyone going in the same direction.

What else?

I asked this question to my readers and here is what they said.

"Get credentials as a therapist!" - Stacey

"Tell them it is a tremendous time commitment, must be very flexible... And at times need to tough....especially with contractors!" - Marybess

"Boundaries!" - Jessica

"Keeping clients motivated and focused can be a huge challenge" - Joy

"You must be OCD about organization" - Amy

"Know why you're in business and what your strengths are... This helps guide big business decisions with more clarity." - Julie

"Stick to your guns.  Don't let clients tell you how to do business." - Carol

"Start Studio Webware when you start your business, don't wait like I did and have to start fresh in the middle of a big project." - Shannon

What do you wish you would have known before starting a design business?  Leave your advice in the comments below! #collaborationovercompetition