As solopreneurs, we have to wear many hats. There’s the designer, hat, of course — that’s generally our favorite. But we also have to handle things like accounting, marketing and client relationships, just to name a few.
Some interior designers really embrace this, switching hats nonstop and taking full responsibility for all aspects of their businesses.
However, at IDMC, our goal is to shift from designers to CEOs. How many CEOs do you know who personally do every single job that the company requires, from ordering supplies to filling out financial spreadsheets?
I’m guessing none. The best CEOs delegate to great teams. Take a lesson from them: You don’t have to be running a huge corporation to build a team and take advantage of their expertise. In fact, I believe designers should outsource and delegate at every opportunity. Why? It lets you focus on what really matters the most: The design.
When you find competent businesses, tools and people to partner with, you get better work done faster. But first, you’ll have to tackle the mental roadblocks that keep many solopreneurs from delegating in the first place.
The Beauty of Delegation
The urge to micromanage is one that all business owners and managers have to fight, regardless of their industry.
That’s especially true for interior designers. This is your business, your design, your aesthetic. You know well that anything done poorly in your business reflects poorly on you, personally! No wonder sometimes it seems easier to just do it all yourself.
But the urge to hold tight to all our business processes is one we have to learn to overcome, for several reasons.
It improves your design.
Done right, outsourcing the parts of your business that you don’t like means you’ll have more time for what matters. You’ll have fewer distractions from your design work. You can also leverage the expertise of others, which can help you leapfrog ahead of competitors. And when you have a team backing you up, you’ll come across more professionally than a one-woman show.
It’s the only way to grow.
There are only so many hours in the day. Yes, you can almost always get more efficient with your processes and systems, which can free up more of your time in the long-term. However, that still only takes you so far. Big growth isn’t for everyone, but staying completely solo is very limiting. Adding even a few people or tools to your business can skyrocket your growth potential.
Your business needs to be bigger than you.
What happens when you get sick or need to take time off work? We don’t like to think about potential emergencies, but each of us will inevitably need time to take care of a family member or deal with a personal issue that takes more than just a few days. When you’re the only one working for your business and a situation like this comes up, your income could completely stop right when you need it the most. Working with others means that at least some of your work could keep going in your absence.
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Choosing What to Outsource
Maybe by now I’ve convinced you that getting help with your design business is a no-brainer. But that doesn’t mean you can rush out tomorrow and start hiring. Where would you even start?
Let’s start by clarifying that growing your team doesn’t need to mean bringing full-time, salaried employees on board. Far from it. There are more freelancers available now than ever, and a growing number of awesome tools designed just for businesses like ours. Those have made it easier than ever to grow our businesses in small increments.
Think about where bottlenecks occur in your design process. Which tasks tend to cause problems or give you headaches? Which tasks tend to drain your energy? What would you be the happiest about if it were taken off your plate today?
Also, look for tasks that are simple but detailed, and that you have to repeat often. These traits usually make them easier to outsource, either to a person or to a software program.
Here are a few prime outsourcing areas to consider.
Admin and Business Tasks
We’ll start with this one because it’s the one most designers are somewhat comfortable with. Very few of us do our own taxes, at least. There are plenty of apps and web-based programs designed for freelancers, solopreneurs and small businesses in each of these categories:
- Accounting – Invoicing, expenses, financial reports and much more can be automated with online tools or a dedicated accountant.
- Scheduling – Calendar apps and appointment scheduling apps abound, eliminating the back and forth required to schedule meetings and appointments.
- Project management – There are tools that let you share progress, tasks lists and documents with your client and streamline your communication.
- Client management – Plenty of client interactions can be scheduled and automated based on the project timeline and on client actions.
- Marketing – There are lots of ways for you to spend less of your time on marketing and get better results with the help of a pro. Look into a social media scheduling app or a partnership with a marketing freelancer or agency.
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There’s little creativity required in making 3D renderings. These and other graphics also take time to produce, so they’re not always designers’ favorite part of a design project. Because they also happen with regularity, they’re a prime task for an experienced partner. Think of all the time you could free up for yourself!
Sourcing and Product Research
Another time-consuming task that most designers would love help with is product sourcing. Specifications for fixtures, furniture and accessories are time-consuming and detail-oriented. Hiring someone part-time or on a freelance basis to help with this specific task is a great option that not enough designers take advantage of.
The Mental Aspect of Letting Go
Still hesitant to delegate? You wouldn’t be the first interior designer to tell me that they don’t have — or want to spend — cash on these things. I’ll never advise you to overspend by making a big hire. But I think most of the time, these cash worries are unfounded.
Hiring help or investing in a new tool can seem like a big expense, especially if you’re used to doing everything yourself. But the time you save and invest back into your business as a result usually more than makes up for it.
Be honest with yourself. Are you hesitating because of the cost, or is it because part of you likes feeling busy and in control? Do you really think that you’re the BEST person to do every single job in your business? If you want your interior design service to be the best, then shouldn’t you have the best person for every task?
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Remember that you can start small. Usually, once you start delegating, you’ll kick yourself for not having done it sooner.
I’d love to know what you think. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on Instagram.
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