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How to Start an Interior Design Business in 10 Simple Steps [(2023) Update]

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Interior designers turn living spaces into aesthetically pleasing and functional environments by finding the perfect combination of color, furniture, and accessories.

Do you have a knack for interior design? If you can’t figure out how to turn your interest into a profitable hobby, you’re not alone.

Starting a business based on your expert decorative skills isn’t as difficult as you may think. You can effortlessly turn your passion into a reliable income source with proper guidance.

Through our guide, we’ll tell you how to start an interior design business and provide valuable tips to ensure its success.

By the time we’re done, you’ll be ready to launch your business confidently and become a reputable interior designer.

How Profitable is Owning an Interior Design Business?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, interior designers made an average of $60,340 annually in 2021.

However, this statistic reflects the earnings of employed designers, not owners of interior design businesses.

The latter can make a lot more per year, depending on their business’ size, location, rates, services, etc. In fact, the market is set to grow by $34029.03 million by 2027.

Once you start your own business, you’ll find that your income will depend on the clients you reach, the services you offer, and the rates you charge.

So, it’s important to have a solid business plan and build an impressive reputation to ensure you make the most out of it.

What You’ll Need to Start an Interior Design Business [& Associated Costs]

There are a few things you need to keep in mind before starting your own interior design business. Let’s guide you.

1. Education

Depending on your state, you may need a formal education to enter the interior design industry and establish your presence.

For example, Florida requires you to have a bachelor’s degree and pass a few tests. This can cost up to $70,000.

2. A Workspace

An interior designer needs a space to invite clients to. Setting up a home office or renting an office space to work from is a must.

Once again, this may cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand.

3. A Portfolio

It’s best to have a portfolio that showcases your skills before launching your business.

Consider offering your services to friends and family and establishing your unique design style to have something ready to show your new clients.

The cost of building your portfolio depends on the furniture, paint, and any other accessories you buy.

Do I Need a License or Certificates to Start an Interior Design Business?

It depends. In some states, it’s crucial to have an education that establishes your skills before providing interior design services.

However, other states have more lenient laws, but you may need to meet a few qualifications, so double-check your state’s laws.

As for certificates, partaking in courses that help better your management, interpersonal, and marketing skills can make managing your business and achieving its goals easier. 

Why You Should Consider Starting an Interior Design Business As a Side Hustle

Aside from serving as a creative outlet, there are several reasons why launching an interior decorating business may be ideal for you.

  • Low Startup Costs: Launching your interior decorating business will not require steep capital if you begin with smaller projects.
  • Flexibility: You will be responsible for managing every facet of your operation. You’ll have complete control over your company’s designers, marketing, design fees, and target market.
  • Potential for Growth: With a solid business plan, marketing strategy, and determination to succeed, you can establish your own brand identity and turn your small business into a large firm capable of replacing your day-to-day job.
  • Strong Demand: There’s always a demand for interior decorators, especially if you focus on a niche market. You can easily build relationships with more clients if your taste meets their needs.

How to Start an Interior Design Business in Ten Simple Steps 

Are you ready to start your business? Here are 10 steps to get it up and running.

Step 1: Prepare

The first step to becoming an interior designer is getting relevant education and knowledge in the field. Learn about space planning, color theory, materials, lighting, etc.

It’ll also help if you gain experience by working with other interior designers before launching your business.

Step 2: Develop a Business Plan

Having a solid business plan ready will help you set long-term goals and the steps you’ll take to achieve them.

It’ll also define your business’ modus operandi, including the business name, services you offer, legal structure, and marketing strategies.

It can also include your design process and pricing structure (flat fee vs. hourly rate).

Step 3: Choose Your Niche

Focus your services on a niche or a specific type of design to stand out among the more influential design firms.

For example, you can consider an industrial, rustic, or sustainable style, and specialize in designing kitchens or home offices.

Step 4: Register Your Business

You need to obtain a business license to operate legally and protect yourself from business liabilities.

Here are the steps to registering a business:

  • Choosing a business structure: You can choose anything from sole proprietorships to LLCs. We recommend consulting with a lawyer and researching what suits you best.
  • Picking a process agent: Process agents handle legal duties on your business’s behalf. You’re also required to have one in many states before being issued a business license.
  • Registering your company: To register your business, submit paperwork (differs depending on the state) to the Secretary of State’s office and pay a fee.
  • Getting an EIN from the IRS: Getting a Federal Employer Identification Number will allow you to operate legally and take advantage of any benefits a registered business entity offers.

Step 5: Obtain Permits and Licenses

This step differs depending on your state. In most U.S. states, interior designers aren’t required to be licensed to operate, but they may need to meet other qualifications.

In others, you may also be required to have a degree in interior design, relevant experience, and pass an exam before getting a license.

It’s best to consult with your state’s licensing board to determine what steps you have to take to obtain a license and operate legally.

Step 6: Build a Portfolio

Build a portfolio that showcases your skills to potential customers.

Having a portfolio ready will concretize your knowledge and expertise in the field and attract more clients, especially if your taste meets theirs.

We recommend launching a new website or social media page, preferably with your own brand name, and filling it with examples of your work.

Step 7: Set Up Your Office

You’ll need a place to work from, so consider setting up an office. You can either work from home or rent a commercial office space.

You’ll also need to invest in software and hardware used by interior designers.

Step 8: Get Insurance

Businesses need insurance coverage to protect owners from potential lawsuits. Depending on your business’ services and type, you may need the following:

  • General Liability Insurance: To protect your business from property damage and third-party injuries.
  • Errors and Omissions Insurance: To protect your business from claims of negligence and errors resulting from your work.
  • Property Insurance: To protect your workspace.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance (required by law): To protect your employees in case of injury.

Step 9: Market Your Business

Advertising your business to attract clients should be part of your business plan.

Consider launching social media campaigns or working alongside marketing agencies to bring your business to light.

Step 10: Build Relationships

Attend trade shows, network with professionals in the field (builders, architects, designers), collaborate with influencers, and offer special promotions to attract even more clients and evolve your business.

Things to Consider When Building an Interior Design Business

To ensure optimal business operations, here are additional considerations to take note of:

  • Branding and Marketing: Creating a strong brand identity for your business will drive clients toward you. So, try developing your social media presence and collaborating with other professionals.
  • Pricing: Having a set pricing structure and billing procedure will help prevent misunderstanding. Consider offering different pricing options, such as flat fees and hourly rates.
  • Relevance: Trends are always changing, and what may be popular today may fall out of favor tomorrow. As a designer, you should stay up-to-date with trends and the latest developments in your field by attending workshops and conferences.
  • Time Management: Managing multiple projects can be exhausting, so develop effective time management strategies, delegate tasks to your co-workers, and use software to better handle your projects.
  • Teamwork: As an interior designer, you’ll be working with other experts in the field, such as architects, manufacturers, contractors, etc. Having a strong, healthy relationship with them will help ensure the success of your projects.

Can I Run an Interior Design Business by Myself? 

Yes! If you undertake smaller projects, you’ll most likely be able to handle everything by yourself.

However, once your interior design business grows, hiring interior design professionals, marketers, agents, and bookkeepers will help ease the process of managing your business.

INSPIRATION: Interior Design Business Ideas

Specializing in a niche is a great way to attract your ideal client.

These are a few examples you can experiment with if you haven’t decided what your future business should offer:

  • Residential Interior Design: You can specialize in designing residential interiors, including presenting your clients with home office guest room ideas and redoing their kitchens, bathrooms, or even their entire house.
  • Sustainable Interior Design: You can focus on designing eco-friendly and environmentally-friendly interiors. These are trendy, so you’re bound to attract plenty of clients.
  • Virtual Interior Design: You can also take your business to the online realm and help your clients with home decor using 3D renderings, mood boards, and shopping lists. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Get Interior Design Clients?

Having a strong marketing strategy, a website, and an impressive portfolio are the first step to attracting clients.

You can then network with professionals in the field, attend trade shows, collaborate with influencers, and advertise on social media.

Can Anyone Start an Interior Design Business?

Yes, but it may be more difficult to establish your presence without relevant knowledge or a strong portfolio.

Similar Businesses to Consider Starting

Worry not if interior design isn’t your thing. With enough passion and determination, you can liberate yourself from your day job.

Consider these ideas: 

  • How to Start a Clothing Business:Are you a budding fashion designer? Starting a clothing business is a smart way to enter the fashion industry and create your brand identity.
  • How to Start a Painting Business: If you’re an expert with colors, a painting business may be good for you. You will need painting equipment, a website, and a business registration for lucrative revenue.
  • How to Start a Boutique Business:Depending on your target audience and the number of clients, you can profit greatly from a boutique business.

Wrapping Up

Starting an interior designer isn’t as hard as people make it be.

Our guide provides you with all the information you need to build a solid foundation. Interior design requires creativity, and with strong determination, you can establish your brand identity, evolve your office-run business into a large firm, and replace your day-to-day job!

It’s crucial to follow the steps we’ve provided to ensure you face minimal trouble while building your business.

Tell us what you think, and share our article if you liked it!  

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