Creative freedom and expression are always in full swing when you run an interior design company. With a diverse range of markets available, you can maximise revenue streams and turn a good profit.

Creative freedom and expression are always in full swing when you run an interior design company. With a diverse range of markets available, you can maximise revenue streams and turn a good profit.

Why start an interior design company?

Historically, interior design was a specialised profession that catered to high-net worth individuals and commercial markets. Nowadays markets have opened up considerably, with homeowners turning to interior design companies to improve the look of their home, often at reasonable cost. Interior designers benefit from a diverse range of revenue streams; they can choose to specialise in a particular niche, such as legal offices, or aim to work in both wide-ranging domestic and commercial markets.

What skills will I need?

The ability to translate client wishes, which are not always conveyed accurately, into eye-catching designs is essential. You’ll need fantastic people skills, able to convey your ideas and designs in terms that everyone can understand. Naturally, you’ll also need a creative bent, able to come up with fantastic designs that work perfectly to invigorate a room and add aesthetic value. These skills often need to grow organically, making experience in an interior design company important.

Training

A range of training options are available, including recognised diplomas achievable through both practical and online study; a quick Google search will yield a range of options. Combining a qualification with on-the-job experience is the best way to prepare you for work as an interior designer. If you’re not able to secure a paid position, speak to senior partners at interior design businesses and try to intern doing various jobs in order to build your skill set.

Start-up costs

Start-up costs can be kept down; you’ll need decent computers along with office supplies. Software licenses can be expensive, particularly as you’ll most likely require AutoCAD software, which can cost upwards of £1000. You may also wish to invest in marketing your business; think shrewdly and try targeting industry publications and lifestyle magazines. The biggest expense will be sample books, which you’ll be showing to hundreds of clients. These cost around £150 -£250, although try to negotiate a discount if you buy several from one company. Don’t sign up for monthly purchasing commitments; these are meant for large stockists.

Should I consider a franchise?

There are now a number of interior design franchises to choose from; they are attractive because you typically don’t require qualifications, which you may do if going it alone to establish professionalism and goodwill. Franchises differ in how you conduct business; with some you work with suppliers directly and simply use the franchise name whereas others give you a list of approved suppliers and maintain a close working relationship, including lead generation. When considering a franchise, work out the expected outgoings and profit expectations in the first three years to provide a picture of whether it’s a tenable idea.

Insurance and compliance

Since you’ll be dealing with third parties you’ll need public liability insurance and also professional indemnity insurance to cover you against professional negligence. If you have an extensive samples portfolio in addition to specialist computer equipment you may wish to take out a bespoke contents insurance policy to ensure you’re completely covered. If you employ staff you’ll need employer’s liability insurance. Consider joining the British Institute of Interior Design or the Association of Interior Specialists.

Your first step

If you have the relevant experience in the interior design industry then your first decision will be whether to franchise or go it alone. Consider your market and see what option is most cost-effective. You may wish to conduct market research; send speculative letters to local homeowners and businesses and see if there is demand for interior design. If not, you may have to consider a different geographic area or specialising in a particular commercial or domestic niche. If you don’t have relevant experience, look at available training and internship opportunities.