16 Reasons Why Your Home Design Business Isn't Making Money

If you’re like most aspiring and professional home designers, you want your business to be profitable. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, our businesses just don’t seem to make money. In this article, we’ll discuss 16 potential reasons why your home design business isn’t making money – and what you can do to change that!

So, let’s get started!

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What Constitutes a Profit?

In the world of small businesses, there’s a difference between making money and making profit. Making money means you are bringing in revenue. But to make a profit, your expenses must be less than your income.

For example, let’s imagine that your home design business brings in $100,000. However, you have to spend $95,000 on overhead costs like rent, materials, and wages for employees. That means you only make $5,000 in profits.

How much does it cost to start an interior decorating business? Discover the answer so you know what to expect!

16 Reasons Why Your Home Design Business Isn’t Making Money (and What to Do About It)

Wondering why your home design business isn’t making money? It might be due to one (or more) of the following reasons:

1. Poor Pricing Strategy

If you aren’t charging enough for your services or products, you won’t be able to make a profit. Similarly, if you’re charging too much, customers may be turned off. Understandably, pricing plays a MAJOR factor in your business’s ability to make money.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

First, make sure you do proper research of what other professionals are charging. This way, you can create a competitive pricing structure that also allows your home design business to make money.

Secondly, create a pricing structure that allows you to make a profit. Consider not just your materials and labor costs – but also taxes, overhead costs, and any other expenses that go into running a business.

2. Not Investing in Marketing

Marketing is essential for any successful business, and this includes home design businesses. Without proper marketing, potential clients may not even know your business exists!

Case in point: research shows that approx. 60% of consumers use a search engine as their first step when considering any product or service. Meaning, they’ll primarily rely on the top results shown to them (likely by Google) before researching further into those particular companies. If you aren’t marketing yourself (or doing it properly), you won’t be one of those top results… So, you’ll lose out on about 60% worth of booking opportunities!

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Make sure you have a well-developed marketing strategy in place! Utilize social media platforms, email campaigns, blog posts, and other methods to reach out to potential customers. Additionally, invest in targeted advertising, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads.

Here are 20 more tips to help you market your home design business!

3. Not Meeting Customer Needs

No matter how great your products and services are, if you’re not actually meeting customer needs, you won’t make much money. That’s because customers want products and services that meet their individual needs – and they won’t buy if those needs aren’t being met.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Look at customer feedback to understand what customers are looking for in your home design business. Then, create products and services that meet those needs. Moreover, create a customer-centric culture within your business – one that values customer feedback and takes it into account when creating new products/services.

Outline drawings for the design of the kitchen design, everything is drawn in pencil. Beautiful, brick walls. Home design business money article.

4. Not Enough Clients

This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but it’s still worth mentioning because, well, it’s a pretty common reason why a home design business isn’t making money. If you’re not bringing in enough clients, then you won’t be able to make a profit. Plain and simple.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Make sure that your marketing efforts are focused on reaching high-value clients who can afford your services and products. You can do this by understanding who your ideal customer is and creating content that speaks to them.

Secondly, create a referral program or loyalty program to reward current customers for bringing in new clients. This way, you can capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing from your current customers and grow your customer base. Not to mention, incentives are a great way to make existing clients feel appreciated – which will make them more likely to book with your business again in the future!

5. Not Knowing Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is essential to growing and making money with your home design business. Without understanding who you’re selling to, it’s nearly impossible to create products/services that are of high-value… Or even get the word out about what you do!

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Make sure you understand who your target audience is – their values, needs, interests, etc. Once you have that knowledge in hand, you can create content and products/services specifically tailored to meet their individual needs.

This not only makes it easier for potential customers to understand what your business offers – but it also makes it more likely that they’ll purchase from or book with your business!

Need help identifying your target market? These 6 steps, courtesy of Indeed, will help you get the ball rolling!

6. Too Many Overhead Costs

Too many overhead costs can kill a business, and that’s true for home design businesses as well. If you’re spending too much on things like rent, utilities, marketing materials, etc., then it won’t be long before your profits start to decline.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

The first step is to create a budget – one that outlines where your money is going and what you need to spend it on. Knowing exactly how much you’re spending each month will help you identify areas of potential savings.

Secondly, look into ways to cut costs, such as:

  • Renting out office space instead of buying a building
  • Reducing energy costs by switching to LED lightbulbs
  • Using free digital marketing resources, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, instead of paid advertising
  • Finding cheaper alternatives for your design materials
  • Outsourcing tasks to freelancers or contractors

By looking for ways to reduce overhead costs, you can save money and reinvest it into other areas of your business. This will help ensure that your profits stay high!

7. Not Networking

Networking is a great way to generate more business and make more money in the home design industry. It allows you to meet potential clients, learn from other designers, and become part of a network of professionals in the field.

So, by extension, when you don’t take the time to network, you’re missing out on potential opportunities to grow and make more money.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

There are all sorts of ways you can start networking ASAP! For instance, you can:

  • Attend networking events in your industry and introduce yourself to people who may be interested in working with you;
  • Reach out to other professionals in the field, such as interior designers, real estate agents, and contractors, to see if there are any opportunities to collaborate;
  • Take part in a stylized photoshoot with other industry professionals in your area;
  • Join online groups, communities, and forums on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram;
  • Apply for industry awards and showcase your work;
  • Post comments on blogs, social media, and other websites;
  • Join home design associations and take part in their events and programs;
  • And more!

Not only will networking help you make new connections; it could also lead to more business and more money for your home design business. So, don’t be afraid to get out there and start networking!

Learn more about how to network like a pro!

8. Not Having a Niche

While your home design business isn’t required to have a niche, it could very well be a reason why your business isn’t making money. Having a niche allows you to focus on the specific style and type of designs that best suit your skills, values, and interests. Furthermore, it’s an excellent way to stand out from the competition by offering clients something unique and hard to find elsewhere.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Evaluate what type of design services you offer and which ones make you the most money. This will help you identify your potential niches and decide which one(s) you should focus on. For example, if you’re an interior decorator, you can always add complementary design services to your business as well, such as:

Additionally, research the competition and see what type of designs they’re offering. By doing this, you can help ensure that you don’t have too many competitors in your niche (which could limit your potential profits).

When considering your niche(s), you should also keep in mind:

  • Your target audience
  • Whether that particular service is in demand in your area or not
  • Whether you have the necessary skills and resources for that niche

At the end of the day, though, having a niche that’s specifically tailored to you and your skills can help differentiate your business from others and ultimately make you more money in the long run!

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9. Not Setting Goals

Not having a plan for your home design business or not setting goals for where you want to take it can be disastrous! After all, without clear-cut goals, you won’t have any direction or motivation. This will leave you in limbo and make it difficult to stay on track and make money.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

To ensure that you’re making money and keeping your business on the right track, you need to set goals.

Start by creating a vision board or writing down your long-term goals. This will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the year. Additionally, create specific actionable steps that will help you reach those goals in a timely manner.

Also, break down your goals into smaller milestones. This will help you evaluate your progress and make necessary changes along the way if needed.

Finally, make sure to track your progress regularly and adjust where needed. Tracking is essential for assessing whether or not you’re meeting your goals or if there are any areas that need improvement.

10. Not Tracking All Expenses for Your Home Design Business

We certainly can’t discuss reasons why your home design business isn’t making money without talking about expense tracking. Without this, you won’t know where the money is going and you may end up spending more than you’re earning!

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

There are several ways to track expenses for your home design business. The most basic way is to use a spreadsheet on your computer or an app like Mint, which allows you to categorize and organize expenses. You can also use accounting software such as QuickBooks, Wave, or Xero, which will help you better manage your finances and keep track of where the money’s going.

Finally, make sure to review your finances every month or quarter to verify that everything is in order and that you’re not overspending. This will help you make sure that your home design business is making money instead of being a financial drain!

If you’re not comfortable working with and/or keeping track of numbers, we also recommend hiring a financial advisor or accountant. Not only will this ensure that your finances are in order, but it’ll also give you peace of mind knowing that your business is running smoothly!

Not sure how to find the right accountant for your business? Here are 13 tips to guide you in the right direction, courtesy of Xero!

11. Poor Brand Identity

Brand identity is essential for any home design business. Without a strong brand, you won’t be able to make money or stand out from the competition.


Because customers need to recognize your brand – and form a positive association to it – in order to be interested in what you have to offer!

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Start by doing some research into your competitors’ brands and see what makes them unique. You can also use tools like Canva’s Brand Kit to create a custom logo, color palette, and font style that represent your business.

Once you have these elements in place, make sure to use them consistently throughout your marketing materials, such as:

  • Your website
  • Business cards
  • Social media
  • Design portfolio
  • And any other promotional flyers or brochures

This will help customers recognize who you are and what your services are all about… And why YOU’RE worth booking over the other home design businesses out there!

Become a master of branding your business with this comprehensive Beginner’s Guide!

12. Not Incentivizing New Customers

Here’s the honest truth: everyone loves a good deal. If it comes down to your home design business and a competitor’s, the deciding factor could often be the price. So, if your home design business isn’t making money, perhaps it’s because you aren’t giving prospective customers a good enough financial reason to hire you over the competition.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Play with different customer incentives and client acquisition strategies!

For example, if you’re just starting out, offer discounted rates to your first few customers. This will show potential customers that you can provide quality design services at a lower cost than your competition. You can also offer discounts for referrals, as this will bring in additional income – plus it’s a great way to build your network!

12. Neglecting Client Retention Strategies

Yes, attracting new customers is obviously very important. However, one of the most important aspects of running a successful home design business is client retention as well! If you don’t have any strategies in place to keep your customers coming back, then it’s likely that you won’t be making much money from them.

In fact, research has shown time and time again that it’s a LOT cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to acquire new ones! So, in terms of making a profit, it’s in your best interest to focus on ways you can turn a one-time client into a repeat one!

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Luckily, there are all sorts of ways you can implement strong customer retention strategies into your home design business.

Start by providing excellent customer service and going above and beyond to make sure each of your clients are pleased with the results! You can also offer discounts or loyalty rewards programs to encourage customers to come back.

Another great way to increase customer retention is by staying in touch with your clients via email, text message, social media, or other forms of communication on a regular basis. This will help ensure that they keep you and your business top of mind – and will be more likely to hire you for future projects!

13. Not Getting (or Implementing) Customer Feedback

Your clients are the BEST source of feedback for your business! After all, they’re the ones working with you on a daily basis. In turn, they can easily tell you what’s working – and what isn’t.

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Start by getting customer feedback as soon as possible. You can do this by sending out post-project surveys and conducting interviews with clients once their project is complete.

Once you have the feedback, take some time to analyze it and use it to your advantage. Make changes where needed in order to improve your services – or even create new ones if necessary – so that you can provide better results for future customers. This will make them more likely to hire you again and recommend your business to others!

Customer review good rating concept, customer review by five star feedback, positive customer feedback testimonial. Home design business money article.

14. Little To No Demand in Your Area

This one sucks to hear, but one of the biggest reasons why your home design business might not be making money is because there simply isn’t enough demand in your area. And while time could potentially change that, we also understand that you probably don’t want to sit around and have your business hemorrhage money while you wait.

So, what should you do about it?

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

If the demand for your home design services isn’t all that high in your physical area, you’ll need to focus on ways to increase visibility and attract more customers from outside your local area! And while traveling out of town to your clients is absolutely a possibility, this can quickly prove to be more expensive than it’s worth.

Instead, your best bet will probably be to offer eDesign services!

In a nutshell, eDesign (also known as virtual design) services are pretty much the same thing you’re already doing for clients – except it’s all done online. Consultations and follow-up appointment will be done either over the phone or via video chat. And the actual project itself will be done remotely.

Not only does this give you the chance to work with clients from all over the world; it also allows you to save money on travel expenses. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection – and you’re good to go!

Here are the 8 BEST virtual design services to offer clients!

15. Not Being Visible Online

Another key reason why your home design business might not be making money is because you’re not visible enough online. This can be due to an unprofessional business website, a lack of social media presence, poor understanding of SEO, etc.

Basically, your business has little to no traction online, so no one can really find you. And if they do find you, they may not be getting the right impression.

Just like with anything else in life, remember, visibility is critical!

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

Start by making sure your website is up to date and easy to navigate. Also, be sure to include plenty of high-quality photos of past projects so potential clients can get an idea of the types of services you offer.

Next, focus on building an online presence. This could include anything from creating social media accounts and posting regularly to engaging with potential customers in relevant groups.

Finally, pay attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Make sure your website and published content (such as blog articles) include plenty of well-researched keywords. This way, it can be found more easily when people search for home design services.

Once you have the basics down, evaluate other areas where you can stand out from the competition and make sure your business is getting noticed!

16. Not Being Properly Certified

Imagine you needed to go to the dentist. You conduct some online research to see what your options are in your area. There are two dentists that catch your attention. However, one is properly trained and certified – whereas the other isn’t.

Be honest: would you choose the dentist who isn’t certified… Or one that is?

We think the answer is pretty obvious!

Well, the same goes for your home design business. If you want to make money, having the right certifications and credentials will go a LONG way in convincing potential customers that you’re qualified to do the job!

What To Do and How To Make a Profit

First, you need to make sure you have the necessary certifications and credentials in order to legally practice home design services. Depending on your physical location, this may vary from state-to-state or even country-to-country.

So do some research and find out what qualifications are needed for home designers in your area, then get certified. QC Design School, for instances, offers a wide variety of self-paced, online design certification courses that you can complete in as little as 3-6 months!

Once you’re certified, make sure to include this information on your website and in the about section of your social media accounts. This way, potential customers will know that you’re a legitimate business!

Having the right certifications can help give you an edge over other competitors – and prove to potential clients that they can trust you with their project. So, don’t underestimate the power of proper certification!

Check out QC Design School’s list of self-paced, online certification courses for more info!

Frequently Asked Questions

Now let’s a look at some of the most commonly asked questions…

Q: What are some other ways to make money as a home designer?

A: There are countless ways to make money as a home designer! It really just depends on what you’re interested in trying out. For instance, you can:

  • Offer virtual design services (like we discussed earlier), such as a virtual home staging;
  • Offer one-on-one consulting services or on-site consultations where clients are able to pick your brain;
  • Create an online course or e-book about home design topics;
  • Sell home decor items and accessories through your very own online store;
  • And more!

Q: How do home designers get clients?

A: Home designers usually get clients through word of mouth, referrals, and online marketing.

For instance, you can create targeted campaigns on social media that target people who are interested in home design services. You can also participate in conversations on niche home design forums or groups to stay top-of-mind. Finally, make sure your website is often updated and properly optimized with relevant keywords. This way, people searching for home design services can find you easily.

Here are 17 more ways to get clients for your home design business!

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Q: What are some common mistakes home designers make?

A: One common mistakes home designers make is not setting realistic client expectations. It’s important to be honest and upfront from the start about timelines, costs, services offered, etc. This will help avoid misunderstandings down the line.

Another mistake home designers often make is taking on more projects than they can handle. Rather, you should make sure that your workload is manageable. You don’t want to risk spreading yourself too thin and ending up with lower quality work!

Finally, some home designers forget to include a contract when working with clients. So, always ensure that you have a contract in place so both parties understand the expectations, as well as what happens if either party doesn’t fulfill their obligations.

Q: What happens if your home design business doesn’t make a profit?

A: If your home design business isn’t making a profit, then you’ll want to re-evaluate the strategies and tactics you’re using. Maybe it’s time to switch up your marketing approach, or perhaps offer more specialized services?

Whatever it is, make sure to do some research and come up with an action plan that can help get your business back on track. You can also reach out to a home design business coach or mentor who can help you get things moving in the right direction.

Q: Can a company survive if it isn’t making a profit?

A: Technically, yes. As long as you have enough capital to cover expenses, your business can stay afloat – even if it isn’t making a profit.

Obviously, though, this isn’t ideal. In the long run, you’ll want to make sure your business is turning a profit in order for it to be successful and continue operating. So, take some time to review your business model and come up with a plan that can help you make money.

Q: Is there a difference between profit and cash flow?

A: Yes! Profit is essentially the money left over after you cover all expenses, taxes and investments. Cash flow, on the other hand, refers to the amount of income coming into your business (minus expenses). Meaning, cash flow is a measure of how well your business is doing at bringing in customers and making sales.

Ultimately, both profit and cash flow are important for the success of your business – but you’ll want to focus on improving both in order to make money.

Q: What are some common warning signs that a business isn’t profitable?

A: Some common warning signs that a business isn’t profitable include:

  • Consistently low sales
  • Large amounts of debt
  • Lack of cash flow
  • Lack of customer interest or feedback

If you’re noticing any (or all) of these things happening in your home design business, then it might be time to change up your strategies and come up with a plan of action to get back on track.

Q: How long can a business last without profits before it has to shut down?

A: That really depends on the amount of capital the business has in reserve. If a business is able to cover expenses and other costs without making a profit, then it could continue operating indefinitely (though this isn’t ideal). However, if money is running low and there’s no sign of improvement, then the business may eventually have to shut down.

Q: Why (and how) might your home design business show a loss?

A: A home design business could show a loss due to a variety of factors, such as expenses that exceed income, poor financial planning, unexpected disasters, lack of customer interest, etc. To help prevent this from happening in your business, make sure to analyze current trends and come up with strategies for success (like offering more specialized services). Additionally, be sure to track your expenses, follow-up with clients, and always be on the lookout for new opportunities.

Q: How much emergency money should you put aside for your business?

A: It’s always important to have some emergency funds set aside for your business, just in case of unexpected expenses or losses. Generally speaking, experts recommend having at least 6 months worth of income saved up for emergencies. This can help keep your business running smoothly even if you experience a loss or downturn in sales.

It’s also important to have an emergency plan in place so that you’re prepared for any eventuality. Talk to a business coach or mentor and come up with an action plan that can help keep your home design business afloat – no matter what.

A wooden sign hanging in front of a mirror at the entrance of the coffee shop Concept of opening shop in the morning. Home design business money article.


Making a profit should be the goal of any home design business. So, if you’re noticing that your business isn’t making money, it’s important to take action quickly!

Analyze current trends, come up with strategies for success, and always have an emergency plan in place. It may also be helpful to reach out to a home design business coach or mentor to help you get back on track.

With the right approach, you can ensure that your business is profitable and sustainable – now, and in the future.

Good luck – and we wish you and your business the very best!

Start a successful, exciting career as a home designer in as little as 12 short weeks by enrolling with QC Design School today!

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