By   November 13, 2017

While interior designers have to be certified, decorators can start businesses on their own without any formal certification.

If you have a love of changing houses through creative decorating, a home decorating business may be for you. While interior designers have to be certified, decorators can start businesses on their own without certification. Before you begin taking customers, practice on the houses of family and friends, assemble a portfolio of your work to position yourself as one of the high quality advisors in the decorating game and get a business license for your organisation.

It Begins With the Plan

Writing up a business plan for your decorating company should be step one, some business owners require a business coach but it is doable on your own. Determine whether you are going to be a product-driven designer that conceptualises the layout and sells essential products to the customer, or merely a consultant who doesn’t sell products. Designers with less experience usually begin as product-driven designers. Research other decorating business advisors in your area to find out what they specialise in, how much they charge and what their designs look like. Consider how you can set yourself apart from other design firms by offering a different kind of design, specializing in particular types of design, such as colonial, offering lower prices or by focusing in specific areas like window treatments or usage of colour and light. Make a list of gear you will need to begin and ascertain how much capital you’ll need.

The Practical Preliminaries

Apply for a business license by visiting the local town hall or county clerk’s office to complete an application, or do it online if that’s an available option on your jurisdiction. If you plan or expect to employ other people, subcontract to a builder or to build credit under the business’ name as a name other than your own, you will also have to apply for an Employer Identification Number or EIN from the Internal Revenue Service.

Making Business Contacts

You’ll also have to connect with providers. Do some research into companies who manufacture living homewares such as flooring, fabrics, carpeting, wall coverings and furniture, or providers that can cover off a lot of these things. Interior decorators can get discounts of up to 50 percent from particular manufacturers, so shop around to find out who will provide you the best prices. This way you are able to pass savings on to your customers. Also contact painters and carpenters to discover their prices for designers. You’ll need them occasionally to finish your layouts, and consequently they could become sources of new work for you.

Preparing to Launch

Invest in standard office necessities, like a computer, phone and word processing program. You may also want to buy specialised design software so that you can present professional-looking layouts to your customers. You’re going to want books of wallpaper, paint and carpet samples from the supplies you have chosen to use. Avoid fabric and wallpaper companies that require you to obtain samples every month. Your first customers will want to see a portfolio of your work, so begin by redecorating your own house and taking before and after images of the improvements you make. Volunteer to redecorate for family and friends, using the broadest appropriate assortment of styles and techniques such as coastal home interiors and minimalist looks, and take pictures of those projects as you work. Choose 15 to 20 photos that you feel best represent your work and place them in a physical or digital album. Insert letters of recommendation from people whose houses you’ve worked on.

The Tough Part

Market yourself; as soon as you’ve hung out your shingle, this is the hardest aspect of the exercise. Try to network with other professionals such as architects, realtors and home furnishing companies who might provide you with business referrals. List your company in your local phone book and in print and online versions of local newspapers and other publications. Create a website or a business Facebook page, and post images from your portfolio. Use Twitter and Instagram to ship out before and after shots of your tasks, or of work in advance, to build curiosity. Create brochures and business cards to hand out to prospective clients, and be certain you take your portfolio with you when seeing interested individuals.

Things Needed

  • Business permit
  • Design program
  • Computer
  • Telephone
  • Word processing applications
  • Novels of wallpaper, paint and carpet samples
  • Marketing materials