Most interior designers are always striving to grow their businesses.
They want to increase their hourly rates, book more clients, and boost their revenue. This kind of growth is what enables them to do more of what they love, and give them the financial stability to support themselves in the process.
But as you probably already know, this growth doesn’t exactly happen quickly, or without a lot of hard work.
Sure, some growth will happen naturally. As you gain experience, build your processes, and learn to work more quickly and efficiently, you’ll gain more business. And as you refine your image and your portfolio, you’ll begin magnetizing your dream clients, which tends to result in better work and better pay.
But to really jumpstart your growth, you’ll need to start building your own team.
Even if you continue to grow on your own for as long as possible, you’ll reach a tipping point where you can’t grow anymore without enlisting help.
So, how do you know when you’ve reached that point? When are you ready to make a hire?
Here are a few of the signs.
You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
Most new designers can only dream of fully booked calendars. But once you’ve finally reached that point, you may realize it’s time to make some changes.
A full calendar isn’t a big problem on its own if you’re disciplined enough to only take on what you have enough time for.
But when your services start to be in high demand, it can get harder to set time aside for unexpected jobs, handle any personal issues that come up, and do the big-picture work required to lead a business.
If you’re finding that you’re falling behind due to incessant demands on your time, or if the thought of taking a week off to attend to a family emergency sends you into a panic, it’s a sign that you need to make some changes.
You might be able to handle your workload OK for now, but if you’re overbooked, even small problems can cause delays that snowball into throwing off your calendar for months.
You’ve Nailed Down Your Processes
If you’re feeling like your schedule is packed too tightly due to a sudden influx of clients, that’s one thing. But being overwhelmed might not be due to an increased workload.
It’s possible that your procedures and systems need improvement. Getting more structured and streamlining your frequently repeated procedures could free up a lot of your time.
Here are a few areas I’ve noticed many interior designers struggle with using consistent procedures and processes:
- Creating an efficient sales and proposal process
- Establishing a regular, continuous marketing schedule
- Handling customer revisions and feedback in a way that avoids “scope creep”
Fixing these things can definitely help your personal schedule. But perhaps even more importantly, it will make it these tasks easier to outsource when you eventually do decide to hire someone to help.
When you take the time to systematize your processes, they’re easy to teach others. Hiring with only a vague sense of what you want your new hire to accomplish usually leads to frustration on both sides. Your hires want a clear idea of what’s expected of them, and you need to have clear deliverables to help measure whether the hire will lead to a good ROI.
Hiring is a big investment of time and money, and it takes some time to get employees trained and up to speed. Hiring someone when you’re feeling overwhelmed is probably not the quick fix that it might initially seem if you haven’t worked on documenting your procedures.
You’re Not Enjoying Your Work
There are a lot of reasons designers find themselves dreading starting their workdays.
Although some of those reasons might have more to do with a problematic client or project, other problems could be fixed by making a hire or getting some outside help.
For example, as your business grows, you may begin spending more time than you’d like on non-design work.
Getting too bogged down in tasks like invoicing, customer follow up, and drafting and renderings can make for a tedious workday.
The good news is that for most of these tasks, there are specialists who would be happy to take care of them quickly and effectively. For more ideas on delegating your non-design work, check out our full post on the topic.
It’s important to learn to let go of some of the tasks that are holding your business back. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself losing momentum and energy. You’ll also be at a disadvantage compared to competitors who have learned to outsource these tasks effectively.
You Can Afford It
As the CEO of your design business, bringing in enough cash to pay your bills and keep your business alive should always be the top priority.
As soon as you bring someone else on board, though, managing cash flow gets a lot trickier.
New hires cost more than just their potential salary or hourly rate, especially if you expect to hire full-time instead of hiring remotely or hiring a freelancer. Traditional hires will need their own office space, furniture, equipment, and software access, all of which can get expensive. If you expect your new hire to drive as part of their job, you’ll be expensing their mileage. If you’re hiring full time instead of hourly, you’ll also need to pay for sick days, vacation days and benefits. You’ll also likely end up spending significantly more time on accounting tasks such as payroll and taxes to account for new employees.
That’s why before you ever post a job, you need to really run the numbers. Figure out exactly what you’ll be hiring this person for, what it will cost to bring them on board, and how many clients you need to land each month to cover their expenses. That way, you won’t put your cash flow at risk.
Your Workload is Affecting Your Clients’ Experience
If you want to be successful, your clients’ experience must be a top priority.
You can run solo at full-speed for a while and hold things together by luck or perseverance, but at some point, the customer’s experience will start to suffer. When your schedule is too packed, your responses to inquiries and requests will start to take longer and longer, and your presentations won’t pack as much of a “wow” factor because you won’t have time to look at each project with fresh eyes before you finish it.You can’t expect to see big changes in your interior design business if you keep doing the same things you’ve always done. Click To Tweet
Once this starts happening, you need to take back control of your schedule by paring down on your work or hiring someone to help you get projects done more efficiently.
Remember, “busy” is not a badge of honor. A well-planned life and a well-planned business allows its employees — including you, its owner — plenty of time to recharge. That recharging time helps you avoid burnout and improves your creative output.
You don’t have to make a big hire right away, either. Download the bonus content below to learn more about options for interior designers looking to hire for the first time.
I’ll leave you with this: Things won’t change for your interior design business unless you make a change in your behavior. You can’t expect to see big changes in your business if you keep doing the same things you’ve done before. And for many designers, this jump in growth comes from admitting that it’s a good idea to get help.
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