2005/12: Ask Me
Q&A 16 years ago No Comments

I’m a design student in North Carolina and just about to graduate in December. I want to stay in the area and work in the residential field, and I really want to have my own business. Though I”ve had several jobs while in high school and college (I’ve had to work my way through school), none of them have been related to the design industry. I know I should probably work for someone else for a while, but I”m really wanting to make something happen on my own. What would you suggest”

(submitted by Jackie B.)

Jackie, yours is a common question for students emerging from a design program, so I would be happy to give you my opinion for the benefit of all of our readers who happen to be in the same situation.

You must consider the Big Picture, so you need to ponder several questions:

1) Do I want to live and practice in my home state, or will I want to transplant myself elsewhere in the future” What kind of design do I want to practice”

According to the Factsheet of Interior Design Registration Laws on ASID”s website, North Carolina does not currently have any kind of design regulation. However, you can see from this map that the neighboring states of Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia have Title Acts, and many other states have at least that. This point is important to consider because the way that so many of the state laws are written, designers must work for a licensed interior designer or architect for a certain number of years before they are even permitted to register with that state.

Also consider what kind of path you want to pursue with your degree. If you are interested only in sales and/or decorating (i.e. cosmetic changes only, requiring no construction) of some sort, then the goals of passing the NCIDQ exam and registration may not be for you. However, if you want to do anything beyond those, we strongly encourage you to become NCIDQ certified. (Why” That”s a whole other subject, but you can go here to get an idea.)

We mention this last point because, according to the NCIDQ Exam Eligibility Requirements, candidates must have a certain amount of experience even to sit for the exam, and “It is recommended that employment be under the direct supervision of an NCIDQ Certificate holder or a registered interior designer or architect, who offers interior design services.”

2) Where would I get the financing to start my own business” Can I afford to start my own business” How would I get started” Etc.

The best thing to do before you ever take the plunge is research: read as much as you can get your hands on, and interview those who have been down the path before. One of the books that I like is The Girl’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business: Candid Advice, Frank Talk, and True Stories for the Successful Entrepreneur by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio.

This book is not really just a book for females, but it does occasionally take into account some of the general characteristics often associated with the fairer sex. Primarily it”s a straight-talking book that”s chock full of clever tidbits about self-employment ” the fun, the frustrating, and the frightening. Some of the important stuff you need to know: writing a business plan, financial resource options, legal considerations, initial marketing plans, and business jargon. This isn”t the only book out there on the subject, by far, but it”s enjoyable, so ” unlike some of the others ” you”ll actually read it.

3) Do I have enough experience or even the temperament to run my own business”

This is a biggie.

Rule No. 1: It”s better to learn with someone else’s