Tammy Hart, I.D.D.P, CAPS is a graduate and tutor of Q.C. Design School as well as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist from the National Association of Home Builders. She is the owner and award-winning designer for Designer Chick Co., and she’s the previous director of the National Board for DDA (formerly CDECA). She is a professional speaker and has spoken at venues like IIDEXCanada and the Small Business Forum. She’s been featured in East in the City Magazine, has had a guest spot on Daytime Durham, Rogers TV and has won the HOUZZ Service Award 2017. She works to empower young women to become successful future leaders and supports ocean clean-up efforts.
The entrepreneurial experience is an enticing one. You’re filled with dreams of owning your time and not working for the corporate monster to achieve success. And while most of this is true, far too often, many aspiring entrepreneurs are left realizing that owning their own business involves blood, sweat and tears.
So here are my hints and tips that will hopefully help you succeed through your first year of business!
Think Outside of the Box
What is your “IT” factor that’s going to make you stand out from every other designer/decorator in your community? Do you have a special niche that isn’t being met currently? Is it excellence in customer service, product, and/or pricing?
Finding your special edge is essential to your success. So you’re going to need to do your research and think outside of the box (which, for us creatives, isn’t hard). And then market the death out of it!
Be a GOAL Digger
When you first start your business, ensure you have a great plan. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal business plan, but sit down and plan your goals. Here are some guiding questions you should ask yourself to bring your goals to the forefront of your mind.
- What do you want to achieve in your first year of business?
- Do you want to be a market disrupter?
- Do you want to make $50K or $100k?
- Do you want to get a percentage of the market share?
- Do you want a TV/Magazine spot WITHOUT having to pay for it?
- Do you want to grow your network?
Figure out what it is you want to achieve and make a plan of how specifically you’re going to achieve those goals.
Make sure you plan your budget. This will help guide you so you know where your business will ebb and flow and have a plan in place to offset the negatives.
Owning your own business is not easy and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. You need to put your shoulder pads on and buckle up because entrepreneurship is a rough ride. Our brains are programmed to fight or take flight. And owning your own business will go against every bit of your brain’s programming because it wants to keep you safe.
Cold calling will scare you. Networking as a fresh-faced designer will scare you. Following up will scare you. WHY? Because of our fear of hearing “NO”. Because of our fear of failure. But embrace this fear! Understand that you may hear “no” but it may just be “no, not right now” or “No. But I know the perfect person who does need your service.”
There will be months in your start-up year when you may not know how you’ll pay your bills. This is all part of the process because there isn’t risk without reward.
And the reward, for entrepreneurs, is the day when you can finally take some time off for a well-deserved vacation. It’s seeing this baby (your idea) grow-up and become incredibly successful, whatever success may look like for you and your plan. But believe me when I say that this is not an overnight occurrence.
Be prepared to work at your client’s availability. Expect to be up late into the night brainstorming ideas and soothing fears, and most importantly, be willing to take baby steps towards success. It’s those baby steps that will make that giant leap one day less terrifying.
Hopefully these pieces of advice help you closer get closer to success in a career in interior decorating and design. If you have any good advice from your experiences, please feel free to share!