Growing Your Team and What They Need to Master: How to build a successful interior design business

Entering a creative profession (*ahem* interior design!) carries its own set of obstacles, each as unique as the visionary! While there is no guide or defined road map, the process of building a talented and well-balanced team doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Hiring the right people with the best skill sets is an important, if not arguably indispensable, aspect of the path to successful interior design business. 

Speaking with my colleagues over the last year, I have heard time and time again how difficult it is to find adept candidates for their interior design firm in the current market. How do you undertake this arduous task, you ask? We have compiled our best advice for growing a brilliant team to ensure success and longevity in your business. Happy reading!

interior design by rachel halvorson interiors, architecture by long & long design,

builder: vintage south development, photography by paige rumore photography

Accounting Management

When your days are filled with site visits, project presentations, installations and sourcing new products, the last thing you want to do is manage your businesses accounting. Let’s be real, sitting down to go over numbers at the end of a creative work day sounds like my version of torture. This is where a financial expert comes in to save the day!

The key is to hire a financial manager who has extensive knowledge of the design industry. In the last six years, 61% of all design firms saw dramatic increases in costs. A recent industry survey showed increases in advertising, marketing, materials, products and even employee wages all cutting into your bottom line. (Statista) Access to a financial expert who can guide you on practices such as how to make the most of your write-offs is priceless, and will address any business costs that are above and beyond your budget.

Searching for a financial advisor to help you to submit your taxes with confidence? Don’t miss our upcoming Key Call, Business Taxes Checklist: Make the Most of Your Write-Offs and Submit with Confidence. Leave the numbers to the masters and don’t lose focus of your main priority – dedicating time to your clients!

Brand Identity

Your brand is the essence of your business…it is a reflection of YOU. When you are passionate about your craft and authentic in the work you produce, clients will be drawn to you and will want to work with your firm. Brand identity extends past what you yourself are generating; it is also what you post to your social media, website, newsletter, and all other outlet forms where you are expressing yourself and your business.

Establishing a ripple effect of your brand identity across all platforms is easiest to implement with a marketing strategy. We know from experience that producing a cohesive brand through everything you touch can be daunting. First, ask yourself – do you know what your brand identity is? Here are a few of our favorite questions to ask yourself to get started:

  1. Can you describe your business in five words?
  2. What do you know about your audience?
  3. What message do you wish your branding to convey?
  4. What is your firm’s niche/how does your brand differ from others in my industry?
  5. Will your existing brand identity withstand change?

AND once you have established your brand identity and scaled to a point where you can’t manage the brand identity across all mediums, consider hiring a team to assist you with your marketing needs.

Managing Growth

Say hello to the biggest pain point of managing your team: growth! How do you know when someone is the right fit for your firm? It all begins with the interview. The most effective interviews are accomplished when the interviewer asks the right questions. Whether you are a designer hiring for the first time or twentieth time, we have the Job Interview Checklist for your company arsenal.  Now that you have the perfectly crafted interview questions, take notes surrounding each question. When you have specific notes, it is easy to reference back before embarking on a new interview to note the qualities that make sense for the position you are looking to fill!

Managing Staff

Your team is the backbone of your business! The projects your firm is executing would not be possible without every team member that dedicates their expertise to every detail. 69.4% of designers agreed that they were increasingly pressed for time to meet client demands. (Statista) Eliminate this issue by finding good people you trust, who reflect your brand and care about your firm. Always emphasize that it is a team effort and you are all in this together!

How do you find the right people who will exceed your expectations for your creative direction? Here are our top tips:

  1. Scour job boards! Within our industry, these boards are valuable in finding the candidates with the skills necessary to be a part of an interior design studio such as AIA, ICAA, Archinect and Business of Home. And if you are looking for interns, university design programs have these too!
  2. Talk to your showroom reps: Many know the ins-and-outs of design studios, so lean into your network of vendor partners for insider information.
  3. Reach out to colleagues! As well as referrals work to find new projects, the same goes for seeking new talent.
  4. Review resumes meticulously: Eyeing spelling and grammar, as well as keywords and specific skills most relevant to the position you’re hiring. Ask for references and reach out to learn more about the candidate to see if their work ethic and experience will be an asset for your firm.

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