Diversifying your interior design business staves off dry spells and keeps you in business during tougher times whether a slow month or two each year or a multi-year drought. You can diversify by changing the way you look at business: go virtual, try something new, or get help.
A few years ago, one of my employees told me she was going back to school and another announced that she was moving to another state. These changes allowed me to rethink how I do business. As I contemplated these changes, I decided I no longer needed to pay rent for a design studio for just myself. Now my company is virtual: my mail goes to a post office box, most catalogs are referenced on websites, and material samples are only ordered as-needed or checked out from local vendors who keep a large stock of samples. I meet clients and vendors at Starbucks or at their home or office.
Employees and contractors can access the office server using LogMeIn, an internet service that allows virtual employees to log in and access files and software loaded on a base computer. When logged in, users can see the base computer’s desktop as if they were sitting right in front of it. This is an efficient way to share a single copy of expensive software for quoting or drawing, and the files remain in the same place accessible to everyone, but not out in a “cloud.”
Try Something New
If you’re a fabulous residential designer, ask your clients if they need assistance at the office. If you design mostly offices, contact your best business clients about providing residential services. If all of your clients are local, ask them if they have vacation homes that need your special touch or offer virtual design assistance to their friends and family who live elsewhere.
I’ve helped clients across the country without going anywhere. For example, a local client wanted help with paint colors for her daughter’s home. The client and I had swatches, catalogs, and a towel in our location and the client’s daughter had the same items at her home in another state. I made suggestions and selections for the paint colors without leaving the Chicago area. I sent paint samples to both mother and daughter. We had a virtual follow-up meeting to make a few adjustments, and everyone was pleased with the results.
Sometimes small business owners think we can do it all ourselves, but we can’t be everything to everyone. Finding someone who brings new or different strengths—whether as employee or contractor—provides balance for your business.
When in doubt, hire someone to help. Professional business coaches like Tom Reber with Motor can help you find ways to reach your full potential and keep the momentum going.
Keep It Going
Whether you’ve been in business for a few months or many years, diversification can be the key to keep business flowing no matter how the market changes.