Episode 112: The Recipe For A Big Girl Business
Welcome back to the Design for the Creative Mind podcast, where we break down the ingredients to building your own flourishing interior design business.
In this episode of the podcast, we discuss the recipe for building a successful interior design business. A big part of that is going to be finding the right mentor and making sure that you get the support you need to help grow your business.
We outline the key ingredients for growing an interior design business, especially if you're in the early stages:
1. Identifying your ideal client
2. Strong marketing and sales strategy
3. The Importance of good pricing strategies
4. Considering procurement processes
5. The 4 phases of interior design projects
These ingredients are essential to your business running smoothly and to get you out of trading your time for dollars. Don't underestimate the value of creating repeatable processes to ensure business continuity even when you're not present and how this is key to building a sustainable and profitable business.
Thank you for listening, and if you enjoyed the show, please rate and review!
It would be very much appreciated if you would leave a rating and review wherever you listen to podcasts. It really helps to keep the show relevant, and I would love to come back to see some of your kind words. Enjoy your summer, and take some breathing time for yourself too!
Michelle Lynne began her interior design career after spending more than two decades working in Corporate America. She began in the home staging arena and has since built a successful, award-winning, full-service interior design firm, employing talented designers and serving clients across the country.
In the summer of 2018, Michelle began focusing on a big gap she saw missing in the interior design industry: teaching interior designers how to run the business of an interior design business. She now engages in private coaching and leads an in-depth, 12-month group coaching program, both options focus on teaching designers profitable processes, systems, strategies, and mindset needed to run a streamlined, profitable interior design firm.
Her motto is simple: we rise by lifting others.
Get more info about our year-long mentorship and coaching program: https://www.designedforthecreativemind.com/business-bakery
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[00:00:00] Hey y'all, welcome back to the podcast. This is Michelle Lynn, of course. And I wanted to talk to you today about the recipe for a big girl business. We've talked about a big girl business, I believe in the last episode,[00:01:00] and I want to bust a couple of myths as well, because y'all, if you throw. You're going to hit an interior design business coach on every corner these days, like we're everywhere.
So not one size fits all. And I mean that because I believe with all of my heart. That coaching is imperative even I have a coach, it's imperative for you to move forward, to have somebody , who's been where you've been and can show you where you want to go. It will rocket your career forward by leaps and bounds when you get the right one.
I, want to encourage you to find a business coach. Okay. I'm going to talk to you about, some of the contents that some of the ingredients that you need to have when you are creating a business that goes from the five to multiple six figure revenue with, profit, but [00:02:00] it's imperative that you find a coach who you connect with.
So it's just like with. Our clients. It's important that they connect with us and we connect with them. So there is not one size that fits all. I was in Las Vegas was in Las Vegas last weekend, but then I was also in. New York city for the interior design society, national conference. So if y'all are in a city that has an IDS chapter, I highly recommend you get plugged in.
It's a fantastic, fantastic group of individuals that are very welcoming. But I was sitting on the, sitting on the bus, sitting next to this chick that I met. She was from Austin, sweet, just adorable. But she was talking to me about some of the experiences that she's had with some coaches that she's hired.
That did not fulfill their promises. And I just, it pissed me off in that respect, because like I said, there's a coach on every corner right now. And there's some very, very legit coaches, but there's also going to be some that are [00:03:00] here to make a quick buck. Okay. I'll be honest with you. This is a money freaking making machine.
When you do it right, this is, has surpassed my expectations from a financial standpoint. So I love it. Let's be transparent. Money's good. And I love doing this. Okay. I love coaching people through my interior design business bakery. But when she was telling me about the two or three coaches that she's hired and their lack of fulfillment, I just wanted to reach through and punch these people in the throat because you're giving them really good money.
So my suggestion is going to be is make sure you check references, make sure you ask that coach or that program, who, who can I talk to directly, not necessarily just going to be the testimonials that we're willing to publish on our pages, but to really have a conversation. Okay. So, again, not one size fits all.
You can take a look there's some great coaches that specialize in different things. So just because we're calling ourselves an [00:04:00] interior design business coach, where are you in your journey? Okay. Where are you in your journey? Because if you are this young designer, like we've been talking about, like the baby designers, like you're you, maybe you've just barely hit six figures in revenue.
Maybe you're still in the low fives. You do not need a program that 300, 000 or more.
[00:05:00] You do not need a program that's just going to give you the standard templates, and you have no idea what to do with them. You don't need a coach who's going to teach you, , how to navigate, you know, stress and so forth. There's all sorts of coaches. There are all sorts [00:06:00] of wonderful coaches, but you need to find who you need to find for yourself.
Okay? This is not necessarily plug and play. Let me tell you what I think you need this, and is my proprietary system. It takes you from a baby designer to a big girl business owner. This is what we've been talking about. Let's just talk about this. I'm going to tell you what's inside my interior design business bakery.
These are the things that you need to be looking for in your coaching. If you are in a less than six figure or barely six figure role, okay, or revenue. And you want to scale it to multiple six, but also with profit. Okay. So who gives a shizzle if you are making 350, 000 revenue, but you're taking home 25, 000 a year and you're working yourself to the bone.
Okay. Or if you don't have the right clients and you're making the 350, 000 and maybe you're making a bit of a profit, but every project is different. Okay. And the process is always different and you're just running yourself ragged. Okay. So maybe you're making [00:07:00] money, but you're not enjoying your life.
Okay. So here's what we offer, but this is what you, in my opinion. Okay. This is my opinion. I just said that there's coaches on every corner. I'm one of them. Start with who you are. Okay. At the, beginning of your business is you. That sounds like the Bible in the beginning.
There was God and he is God, but, um, in the beginning of your business, it's you. Okay. What makes you special? Okay. What is your, what is your secret sauce? What makes you a bad ass? And I want to tell you, honey, that every single one of you listening. You have this in you. So whether you've been a corporate leader in a fortune 500 company or a stay at home mom or a teacher or a dentist or a doctor, like whatever you've been doing, you are bringing.
Your special badassery to the table. You have a unique selling proposition [00:08:00] that goes hand in hand with it. Okay. It's hard to see it yourself. So you need to work through some exercises, have somebody who is an outside observer, provide you some insight as well, because mama, if you've, grown and launched children, you know how to create a home that is functional, you know how to create a home.
That's beautiful. And maybe you didn't have the same budget. Some of your clients do. So, you know, some of the things that you would have done, had you been able to implement them, you bring that to the table, if you're coming from a business background, or if you're coming from another profession, you're bringing the ability to talk to other individuals on a professional level, you bring an organizational ability, like there's something for all of us.
So start with what makes you special and then identify who you want to work with, because so many of us. Myself included back in the day, we want to serve everybody. Everybody's home should be beautiful. Everybody's like, Oprah, you get a car and you [00:09:00] get a car and you get a car. No, you are not here for everybody.
Once you know where your sweet spot is, you can start drilling down and creating your ideal client profile or a client avatar. And that's who you're going to market to. Do you want to market to busy professionals? Do you want to market to, soccer moms? Do you want to market to bachelors? Do you want to market to, aging in place?
Do you want to market to, individuals with impaired. Development like there's so many things that you can do. It doesn't have to be a specific aesthetic. Okay. For ML interiors group, we don't have a specific aesthetic. We are here to create homes that are happier and more efficient for our clients.
Okay. So then you find your client avatar. So you know who you are, you know, who you're marketing to. Okay. Now let's talk about marketing. There's social media, there's email marketing, there's blogging, there's, your website, your copy, all the things that you need to be doing. [00:10:00] So how do you go about that content strategy?
How do you go about implementing it? How do you go about, getting your voice out there and heard? Marketing and sales similar, but different marketing is getting out into the, into the marketplace and having a conversation with your prospective clients. Sales is walking them through that funnel and getting them to sign the contract.
Now I'm going to give a shameless plug because one of the commercials that I have here on my podcast is called sidemark. And it is a badass, sales and marketing platform that I'm a co-founder of. In all transparent, say I'm a co-founder because this is what I've been wanting for a decade, and I finally found a team that can help me.
Solve this, and we've pulled different things together. So there that's out there. But regardless of what platform you work on, you, have to be present in your social media. If social media is to crash and it has in the past. The only thing you [00:11:00] own that you can reach to other prospective clients is going to be your email list.
So you need to have a solid email marketing plan and blogging. Blogging is a great way to, show your expertise. And also it's going to get your Google juice up because your website shows activity on a regular basis and it's not just dead according to Google. Okay. That's called that's part of your SEO or search engine optimization.
Strategy. Okay, so you know who you are, you know who you're talking to, you're getting out into this marketing arena to talk to them. While that is, is growing and developing and you're starting to get inquiries or you're just starting to make a splash in the market, you need to know what services you offer and how you're going to price them and where your profit comes from.
Okay. So for example, one of the things that I am a huge advocate of and what I teach is how to price a flat fee. [00:12:00] Okay. A flat fee, a set fee, a value based fee, whatever you want to call it. I was in Forbes talking about this Forbes. com. And part of the reason why I'm a huge advocate of a flat fee is because the faster you get, the less money you make.
And how are you going to tell your client? Who's an attorney that you're charging 350 bucks an hour. Okay. They're going to laugh and walk out, but if you tell them it's a flat fee. Then it doesn't matter what your hourly rate is, because think about that. You're getting better and better at what you do.
And whether you're charging 75 an hour, 175 an hour or more, you're fast. You're getting faster. Great. I'll just take on more jobs. No, babe, you don't want to take on more jobs because then you have so many open, like loose ends. You want good, solid jobs in a perfect world. If I could have four jobs a year for my team.
They're so big and juicy. I mean, how dreamy would that be? Okay. [00:13:00] So you've got the flat fee. Are you selling furniture? Okay. There's a margin that you have. Yeah. There's a margin, there's a markup. Okay. So again, if we're talking to coaches and talking about mentorship and talking about growing your business and launching yourself multiple years into the future, flat fee, furniture margin, this is like just a couple of the ingredients that go into making money.
Making a profit in your business and not having to have 77 different projects at one time. Okay. What sort of services are you offering? Are there multiple service levels that you offer? Because not every project when you're starting is going to be full service interior design. If it is rock on with your bad self, babe.
But for most of us, we have to start and have a variety of different areas that feed into our revenue. Okay. So. You know who you are. You know who you're talking to. You're getting out there and you're having that marketing conversation in the market. You've got your services. [00:14:00] You know how you price.
That's transparent. It's easy. It's elegant. You can explain it to your client and you can make money. Okay. Now they start calling. Holy cow. Now what? Okay. Well, the first, the first phase, well, let me just back up. Every interior design project has four phases. Okay. And this is what you roll through.
Every project is different, but the process should be the same. You have research, development, procurement, and installation. Research. This is when you're going through, first of all, you're trying to decide, do I even want to work with this person? Do they understand? Do they listen? Are they going to value my work?
Then you're going to learn a little bit about their project. Ooh, do I want to do that? Where do they live? Are they an hour away from you? Is this a project that I'm going to be good at? If you've been decorating for an extended period of time, are you ready to do a full kitchen renovation? Do you want to do a full kitchen renovation, or do you want to stick with decorating?
There's no wrong [00:15:00] answer. There's absolutely positively no wrong answer. This is your business. You get to do whatever the hell you want to do. So you're going to research them. Are they kind considerate? Respectful, you know, people that you want to hang out with because it's, it's, you know, it's like dating.
This is like dating. You don't want to get married to somebody. You don't want to get into a relationship with somebody that you're going to have to stick possibly for the next one to five years. It's very likely that you could be working on their project for up to a year or longer.
We have clients. We have been working in phases throughout their homes. First home, second home, different phases. We've been with them for seven years. So you want to make sure that these are people that you're okay developing this relationship with. So not only are you researching them, but once they sign the contract, then you're going to dive further into their project.
Okay, so there's research, and then of course there's development. Now, I don't teach about [00:16:00] development of your interior design, like y'all are designers. Okay, there, there are some things that we go through in the interior design business bakery about the development and like how you can go about it in a more methodical manner.
So you're not having to recreate the wheel every single time. Okay, but I don't teach how to mix patterns. or the color theory or history of design or anything like that. But we do go into the, that level of detail of how to run it from a standpoint. Okay. So there's four phases, research, development, procurement.
Okay. Y'all, I'm just going to tell you right now, selling, buying furniture wholesale and turning around and selling it to the client is, is a great way to make a profit. But how do you go about? How do you go about procurement and keep it profitable as well? Okay. And then of course there's installation.
Well, let's go back to procurement because procurement can be a very big pain. And what I mean by that is it's not just putting something in the cart and checking out. And this is also [00:17:00] something that you have to explain to your clients, but we do that during the research phase, but it's not just putting something in the cart and checking out, but think about this.
Let's just say a pillow. Okay. You're going to make a custom pillow. You have to figure out what fabric you want. Okay. That's part of your development, but then you also have to figure out how much of it do you need, depending on the repeat. Okay. Depending on the pattern, depending on the size of the pillow.
And then if you want a 20 inch pillow, then you have to figure out what insert you want. Okay. Do you want it to be a polyester or down? Do you want it to be a blend? Do you want it to be 50, 50, What do you want it to be? And then if it's a 20 inch pillow, it needs to be a 22 inch insert. Okay. And then you have to specify, and this is all part of what you're specifying in procurement.
You have to specify, is it a knife edge? Is it a box edge? Is it going to be corded? Is it going to be self corded? Is it going to be decorative tape? Is it going to be like, and how much of that do you need? And then you have to order it. And then you have to confirm that it's received. And then you have to confirm that it's from the right dye lot.
And then you have to confirm that you have [00:18:00] enough. And then you have to take all of this to the workroom and explain it all over again. Okay. So this is, this is procurement
for the record. That's how I explain it to my clients so that they get as stressed out as we just did. And they understand that this isn't just, you know, putting a pillow in a cart and checking out at freaking pottery barn. Okay. I feel strongly about that. Are you charging for procurement? Are you charging for your time?
If so, how do you go about explaining that to your client? Okay. So then there's that, then there's installation. Again, I don't need to explain everything to you about installation and how you judge and how you style and how you stage and all of those things and about space planning. But I am talking about, how can you make this the most repeatable, easily seamless process?
That y'all if the way the way I believe a business coach should teach you and the way that you should run your business and again this is just my opinion based on my experience, both in two different industries in corporate America, and then owning my own business here ml [00:19:00] interiors group since 2008 full time since 2010 and completely 100 percent focused on interior design, since 2013, and I firmly believe that you should run your business you should learn how to run your business.
So that if you are not present in your business, it can run itself. So if you have these elegant processes that are documented and easily repeatable and easily taught to others, I knew that I could teach others when I went to go adopt my daughter, Genevieve. In Michigan, and I was gone for a month out of state because y'all, let me tell you, getting a child across state lines without all sorts of paperwork is not possible.
So we were there for a month before we came back to Dallas, my team, I had two designers and, , kind of an office manager. They didn't call me because all of this is documented. All of this is repeatable. We've done it before. I didn't have to show up at design presentations. I didn't have to show up at installations.
I didn't have to show up at the process of signing the contract.[00:20:00] And I could rest easily with my newborn for the next month or so after that. If you go on vacation, business should not stop. This is what you're looking for. Well, if that's what you're looking for, I'm assuming it is because it's pretty sweet.
You still get paid. You can be laying on the beach and you're not worried about things. So this is what, like I said, not one size fits all. This is what we do. This is what I believe. This is what I've taught to hundreds and hundreds of designers and what I practice, what I preach. Okay. So then you've got the installation, but let me tell you, y'all that's not the end of your project.
You want to stay in touch with your clients. How let's go back to that email marketing. Do you have a separate way of keeping in touch with your clients so that they remember you when they have their next house so that they can just obviously find you quickly in their email. Are you staying in touch with them on social media?
What are you doing? Okay. So, so there's those sorts of details and there's so much more that goes into this. There's, there's, how do you create a budget? How do you [00:21:00] work into a budget? . How do you set expectations with your clients? So that they understand what your boundaries are. . So in the next few episodes, we're going to break a lot of these ingredients down into bite sized nuggets for you to learn from and implement.
And of course know that we're here for the, for the interior design business bakery, you have to believe that there's a resource for you. You have to believe that there's a coach for you. You have to believe that there's a solution for because you're spinning your wheels.
, your processes are not buttoned up. So every project is different and every process you don't have. So this practice can change your life. This practice of taking your business seriously and creating a big girl business. Is very much possible. It's very much possible you have to believe in yourself.
So I'm gonna challenge you when you leave this podcast, when you are finished walking your dog or, or, or picking your kid up from carpool or whatever you, [00:22:00] wherever you're listening to this, step back and start looking at what makes you special. Cause that's where we're going to go. That's where we're going to go in some of our episodes.
What makes you special? What makes you unique? What sort of experience do you bring to the table that your clients are going to learn from appreciate and trust? . So join me, come back, gather some hope, know that , there's solutions out there for you, whether this is whether the interior design business bakery is for you or not.
We're going to talk about the foundations of a solid business and dig into them. Okay. Little itty bitty bite sized nuggets.
So thank you for listening. Thank you for being here. I want to encourage you. See, this is where I practice what I preach. I want to encourage you to get clarity on your next best step today. Okay. Get clarity on your next best step today. Seriously, like as in right now, if you're struggling to figure out.
How your day to day hustle is supporting the bigger version you have for your interior design business. It's time for you to put on your big girl [00:23:00] panties. Or your CEO hat and revisit your business's foundations. If you don't have anything to revisit, then this is going to help you create some foundations.
It's my interior design business review and planning guide. Okay. It's free, a hundred percent free. You're going to get some clear insight on what's working in your business and what's not. You can create an action plan that you can start implementing today to get you closer to the business of your dreams.
All you have to do. All you have to do is go to my website designed for the creative mind. If you can't remember that it's the same name as the podcast. . Designed for the creative mind. And I believe it's a forward slash review guide. Okay, if you can't find it, it's all the way at the bottom of the, of the first page.
Okay, it's the review guide. So go, drop your email in there. , I'm not going to spam you, I promise. But yes, I practice what I preach. Instagram goes down tomorrow. If you don't hear me on the podcast, at least I have your email address. . But this review and planning guide, I promise you is well worth giving me your email.
All right. [00:24:00] And then from there, head on over to the Facebook group, interior designers, business launchpad. I go live there once a week. And yes, I know it's Facebook, but that's the best place. It's the best place to run. A free group. So thanks for joining me today. I'm excited about this journey that we're taking together and I will catch you on the next episode.
Ciao. That means bye in Italian. See you soon.