How to Handle the 5 Top Business Frustrations
I love interior design - and I know you do, too! We are thrilled when we're being creative, we love making our clients happy, and we are so excited to finish a lovely project. But... There are those moments that make us wonder why we're in this business at all! Things go wrong, clients get angry, we have issues with our team - there are always challenges. And some of those issues are more frustrating than others. Here are the top 5 things that are driving most interior designers CRAZY today - and how to handle them!
1. The Wheels Come Off
We've all had projects that seem to be cursed, where everything that could go wrong just DOES. It is SOO frustrating. But often, if we take a step back, we can see that those issues are usually something we could have controlled. Maybe it was a client who was angry because you didn't tell them about an issue. Or a missed deadline, Or a dropped ball ... or three! When you've had a project like that, it's a good idea to have a wrap-up meeting once it's over, to really dive into what went wrong. Most of the time, you could just put a system or procedure in place to avoid ever having that problem again. So be sure to really break down the good, bad, and ugly of each project once it's complete!
2. Procurement Problems
You know, it used to be fun to shop for the perfect chair or an amazing table. But the fun is almost completely gone when it comes to procurement. Supply chain issues are still a problem, price hikes are hitting all the time, and some products need to be reselected over and over and OVER. UGH. And that doesn't even include your clients shopping you online, finding lower prices or products that they think will "be better." This is one part of the business that isn't going to improve any time soon. But you do have options! You can hire an outside firm to handle procurement - there are a lot of them that specialize in that for designers now. You can charge a procurement fee to cover the hours and hours your team will spend shopping. Or you can change your model to design consulting, cutting out the procurement entirely. But the smartest thing you can do is to start thinking about which solution works for you NOW, rather than waiting for this issue to get worse.
3. Cash (Doesn't) Flow
Nothing kills a business faster than a lack of cash flow. In fact, it's the #1 reason that small businesses fail every year! The best way to avoid this problem is to stay on top of your financial reports, reviewing them every single week. You want to see your incoming payments, your expenses, what cash is available right now, and what income is projected over the next few months. You should also have an emergency fund to take care of any unexpected problems. And you need to be SURE that your clients are paying you on time! That's really key.
4. Hiring – and Keeping – Good People
I can't count the number of posts I've seen on social media from other designers that say "We're Hiring!!" It seems like EVERYONE is looking for help right now. And just like the saying goes, good help is REALLY hard to find! So how do you hire great people when there are so few out there? First, consider the person rather than the skills. A lot of what we need can be taught, so don't try to find a person who has every single skill you're looking for. Try to hire someone who is a great fit for your team and is eager to learn. Or you can try the art of poaching, offering more money to great designers in your area. You can also go to design schools nearby and bring in interns that can be trained to stick around as full-time employees once they graduate. But remember that hiring is only half the battle - you need to keep them on your team, especially if you've invested in a lot of training. Have a constant dialog with your employees, taking the temp of how they feel about their jobs. Offer good benefits and a great working environment. Make it a FUN place to work!
5. Comparing Yourself to Others
Every day you can hear about another designer who has a book deal, who got the cover of a shelter magazine, or who will have a new line of fabrics debuting soon. And that is AWESOME! But too often we start to use that news as a barometer for our OWN success - bad idea! No one can say what is successful to one person versus another. Some people are making a LOT of money, but they're flying under the radar when it comes to press and promotion. And that's great! Others might be getting more deals, but fewer clients. You need to decide what your goals will be, based on what you REALLY want, not based on what "everyone else" is doing. Sometimes what looks like success on the outside, isn't really all that great behind the scenes. So keep that in mind!
To help you get your frustrations under control, download my FREE Guide to Onboarding a New Hire! It will help you get your new employee started off on the right foot!
PS - Remember that if you REALLY want to get your business frustrations under control, my Return on Interiors system is the PERFECT solution! It will help you take control of your design business and begin each day with clarity and purpose!