How to Run Your Small Business Like a Big Company

An unfortunate trend in the interior design business is that we treat our small companies like a hobby or a side gig. We let ourselves get bogged down in the day-to-day and we forget that each of us is the CEO of our own businesses. That can definitely hold us back from reaching the goals we have, both for ourselves AND for our companies! We need to stop thinking SMALL and start acting like the business owners we are! So here are some ideas that will help you transform your viewpoint (and BE SURE to see the BIGGEST tip - it's in my PS at the very end!).

1. Vision and Strategy

The most successful CEOs have a vision for where they want their company to be in the future. They put their eyes on that prize as they move forward, with a mapped-out strategy that keeps them on track. That doesn't mean that your goal can't change or that you might need to adjust as you go along, but having defined goals gives you a path to follow. It could be that you want to hit $5 million in revenue next year. Or that you want to expand into new services. It might even be that your ultimate goals is to have a company that's valuable so you can sell it in the future. That vision makes you dream BIG, and a strategy will give you the tactics to get there. 

2. Buttoned-Up Processes

There aren't many successful big companies that fly by the seat of their pants, reinventing the wheel with each new venture. But too many designers do that day after day, project after project! Having process and systems in place for every part of your business will make you more efficient and effective. That is exactly why I developed my Return on Interiors system - to be sure that I was running my company in a way that would maximize my staff and keep costs (and our time!) as tight as possible. Look for those places in your business that need a process, a timeline, and task lists. Repeatable solutions are what set those successful companies apart.

3. Understand Cash Flow

Every business owner and CEO should know exactly what the company's cash flow is at any given moment. Why? Well there's a famous saying that goes something like: “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality.” Cash flow helps you take the temperature of your business. It lets you know how much money is coming in AND going out of your business. Sometimes designers focus only on the revenue and think they're profitable and that their business is doing really well. But that is only PART of the picture!! You need to also know what expenses you have and understand how those are impacting what you are REALLY making. Sit down with your accountant or bookkeeper regularly and ask for those cash flow statements. 

4. Build a Great Team

Who you work with can make or break your company - successful CEOs really get this. You want to have the top talent and you want to keep them happy and productive. There is a difference here with big business though. In our smaller companies, it's smart to mix full-time employees with part-time workers and fabulous contractors. Those full-time people need to be the best of the bunch. They need to be a great fit with you, and you want to be sure that you are offering them competitive salaries and benefits, as well as training and continuing education. But those contractors - usually bookkeepers, accountants, virtual assistants, consultants, marketing experts, and procurement companies - are important, too! They need to be the people who expertly fill in the gaps in your business. Invest in great people and they'll pay your company back in amazing ways!

To help with that last point, download my FREE Guide to Onboarding a New Employee. That is a critical point in building your team because you want them to have everything they need to start off in a GREAT way!



PS - If you REALLY want to stand apart from the competition, get your business in shape by joining my Get It Done NOW Training! If you've been "meaning to" get things organized and set up in your business, but you just don't ever seem to actually DO IT - this training is for you because it includes ACCOUNTABILITY. Want to know more?? Just click here. Training starts next week, so don't miss it!

Check out more design business tips and tricks

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Set - and Stick to - High Brand Standards

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