Top 5 Design Business Frustrations

I love what I do - no really, I DO! But I get frustrated with the design business, just like I'm sure you do. Every business owner and CEO has times when they're ready to throw in the towel. That's just normal. But it's HOW you respond to those frustrations that can make all the difference. So I wanted to take a look at the top 5 things that drive us all crazy about the interior design biz. Let's go over each one, and how you can react to those frustrations to make things easier!

1. “Failing” to Measure Up

As we head into 2023, I hope this is one thing that every single interior designer will DROP. And that's the comparison game. I hear this ALLLL the time, that designers don't think they are successful. Usually that's because they are comparing themselves to other designers, to how things look on Instagram, or they think they are supposed to run their businesses according to some "rules" of the game for our industry. STOP 🛑 doing that!! Of course you're going to be frustrated if you're holding yourself to a completely irrelevant standard! If you take only ONE piece of advice from me this year, let it be this: You do YOU. Your success should not ever be defined by some arcane (and probably just plain silly) rules or by a smoke-and-mirrors post on social media that makes you think you're doing it all wrong. Define your own success!

2. Lack of Organization

OK this is a big one. We have a lot of balls to juggle as owners (and designers!). And if you aren't organized or you don't have systems and processes in place, you are going to drop one - or more, or ALL - of those balls. You know it and I know it. So stop that crazy-making way of doing business. Running like a rat on a wheel is very very frustrating. Organizing your business and setting up step-by-step process is the ONLY way you're going to be able to stop running like a crazy person. Keep reading - I'm going to give you a gift that will really help here!

3. Yikes! Cash Flow

Cash flow is the #1 reason that businesses fail, so of course this is scary and frustrating for many interior designers. Planning ahead, and keeping your eye on your financials, is the ONLY way to keep your cash flowing in. I use a planning pipeline for looking ahead and what income I can expect. In fact, I've already filled mine out for 2023! Basically I break my expenses down so I know what I HAVE to make each month in by business (and I include my salary!). Then I map out the income I'm expecting by month. That lets me see if I'll make a profit with business I already have, or if I'll need to market my services to find more business. By keeping an eye on that spreadsheet, I can project my income so I never come up short in my cash flow!

4. Constant Interruptions 

This one may sound silly, but it is ALWAYS listed as a top business frustration. A study by Gloria Mark, associate professor at University of California, Irvineshows that if you get interrupted, it can take on average 23 minutes for you to get your brain focused and back on track for whatever you were doing. What?! I know! That's a LOT of time if you're managing non-stop interruptions throughout your day. Not so funny when you look at it that way, right?? So how do we manage all of those interruptions? Block time on your calendar, tell staff that they CANNOT bother you, turn off your phone, and stay focused! You have to be disciplined about staying in the zone. Set rules and then stick to them.

5. Getting Shopped

This business frustration is definitely a unique one for interior designers, but it's maybe the MOST irritating one of all! Even at the highest levels, clients are forever on the Internet, either finding the "perfect" product or finding it a lower cost than what you quoted. It is truly frustrating. But this one comes down to you and how you present your services. Yes, they can find all sorts of things on the Internet, but they need to remember that you have your eye on the big picture. Address this up front, BEFORE you take them on as a client. And set rules about shopping in your agreement or contract. If they know there will be penalties for trying to bring in products they find, they'll be less likely to start in the first place.

To help you with all of these frustrations, download my FREE Guide to Interior Design Processes that Work! It will help get your organized and keep you on track in 2023!

Check out more design business tips and tricks

Selling Your Design: The First Critical Touchpoints

Making the Most of Client Touchpoints

How Communication Can Solve Any Project Challenge

Ready to Get Some Processes in Place - and Get Back Time to Work on Your Business?

Organize and automate your interior design business by implementing a few business processes. Each process helps designers show up prepared and professional at every step.

Download this FREE GUIDE and start automating your business today!