Episode 114: Getting Your Design Business Started The Right Way

Business Interior Design Coach Michelle Lynne

Show Notes:

In this episode, I dive into what it actually takes to start your Interior Design business whether you are just starting out or have been in business for a few years. 

Building the foundation of your business the right way is essential to your business success. In this episode, I break down the checklist that you can use to make sure you have all the business essentials covered, and talks about how important it is to invest in yourself and your business as well as getting used to being comfortable getting uncomfortable. 

Thank you for listening, and if you enjoy the show, please don’t forget to rate and review it! 



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 this fall weather, and take some breathing time for yourself too!


About Michelle: 

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  

Text UPDATES to 855-784-8299 for business tips, encouragement, and all our DFCM updates.

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A Podcast Launch Bestie production


[00:00:00] Hello. Hello. Welcome back to the podcast. I am looking forward to today's topic. Last week, we talked about the worst advice I ever got. And I had mentioned that we're going to talk today about [00:01:00] how do you get your business started? Even if you've been in business for a little while, I think you're still going to find some nuggets in this episode that you can take and apply to your business.

[00:01:11] So even if you've been in business for, I don't know, a year or two, I think if you've been in business for like 15 years, you can probably just. hit the pause button and move on and come back for the next episode after this. But today we're going to be talking about how you get your business started.

[00:01:26] We're going to talk about some of the tactical details. Okay. And then we're going to talk about some of the less  definitive types of details and, just bear with me. We'll get into this. So first thing you need to do in order to get your business started, let's just dive right in. Shall we?

[00:01:42] It is to decide. Okay. I know. I know. I know. So simple. I outlined my podcast and I was just like, you know what, you just have to decide to do it and you have to decide to be vulnerable and then tell others. Okay, so sometimes deciding is one thing, but if you [00:02:00] don't tell anybody, it doesn't matter. So by telling others, this can be by starting your social media channel.

[00:02:07] , you need to set up your accounts. You need to create a website and put that out there and start sharing it with others. So a website is something that needs to be done, your business cards, these are all actionable items that you need to have a checklist and take through it.

[00:02:22] , and in fact, I think we are, don't quote me on this. It depends on when this podcast comes out, but we are launching a new - it's like a membership group. So we've got the interior design business bakery, but then, there are a bunch of designers who are not quite ready to make that investment or to make that leap.

[00:02:40] So we are starting something, I think it's called the sugar and spice society and it's a membership. Okay. It's a membership. It's monthly. It might be like 47 bucks, but in it we have this, how to get your business started within 30 days. So. Watch for that. If we haven't launched it just yet, it's coming really, really soon.[00:03:00] 

[00:03:00] So, uh, you can DM me on Instagram and I can get you that information as soon as it's official, but Hey, look at, see, okay. I am just practicing what I preach. Like you have to decide you're going to do something. Like I decided that I was going to start this membership for individuals who were not ready to move into the bakery and they just needed some community and they needed some basic tools and like this checklist.

[00:03:21] And then you tell others. Okay. So here I am, I'm telling y'all now there's two reasons why you want to tell others. One is because for one, like if you're interested in the sugar and spice society, it's a membership that is going to be community, uh, for interior designers that are looking to rise. Then you're going to inquire and you're gonna say, Hey, Michelle, I might want to give you some money to be part of that.

[00:03:43] Okay. So there's that one facet when you tell somebody that you're starting your design business or you're starting any new endeavor, but there's also the accountability factor. Cause y'all, I just put that out there. And while I may not have like 200, 000 downloads ever [00:04:00] or per episode or whatever, it's still out there publicly.

[00:04:03] Right? So if I say that I'm going to do something and then let's say I get cold feet before this , or after this episode airs, I'm going to be like, oh shoot, oh shoot, oh shoot, oh shoot, oh shoot. I have to do this. I have to keep it up. I have to keep it going. Okay. Now, I will never advocate. Peer pressure or the reason to go forward with something that you're not in alignment with or that isn't congruent with your values or that just doesn't feel right.

[00:04:29] Like I've canceled programs in the past that I rolled out, , but you're more likely to make it better and make it. reality and keep it going when you do tell others. Okay. So you need to decide you're going to start your business. You need to tell others, Hey, I'm starting an interior design business.

[00:04:47] Okay. Or here in this instance, Hey, I'm starting this membership. And it is a community for interior designers who have yet to really move forward or don't have the money to invest in themselves. But [00:05:00] then what you need to do is you need to create a name. When you are naming your interior design business, begin with the end in mind.

[00:05:08] Okay. So I made the mistake of naming my Interior design business. It was originally called “By Michelle Lynn.” Okay, that's a funny story on its own. I started, what the heck, you might've heard it, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. So I started the business. It was called “By Michelle Lynn.” When I first started it in 2008, it was home staging, organizing and redesign by Michelle Lynn.

[00:05:30] And I figured, well, if that doesn't work, I can do a dog walking basket. Gift baskets and carwashing by Michelle Lynn. Okay. So whatever it was I could do by Michelle Lynn, , and then I switched to Michelle Lynne Interiors Group , when I started bringing people on board, because it wasn't by Michelle Lynn anymore, it was by Debbie Pratt, 

[00:05:47] , or whoever was working with me at the time. So I switched to ML Interiors Group. In that respect, Michelle Lynne interiors group, and then I shortened it to ML interiors group because y'all, if I want to sell the [00:06:00] business, am I going to have to find another Michelle Lynne? Okay. Now, as it is right now, I've pigeonholed myself into ML, but begin with the end in mind.

[00:06:10] And then you're going to search for infringement. So , is there another company with this name? Okay. That does sound similar to what you do. And then, you're going to want to divert it so that it doesn't get too confusing, for clients who might be looking for you, but begin with the end in mind.

[00:06:24] Do you want to be the face of the group forever? Do you want to be able to sell your company? And I don't know if that's going to be an obstacle if and when the time comes that I want to sell my company, but , I'd like to put the group towards the front. So that's why we switched it there, but begin with the end in mind.

[00:06:45] When you come up with your name, you don't have to use your name. You don't have to use your name at all. I don't know if I would go back and use my name in the company name if I were to do it all over again. So, you also need to figure out your business structure. Are you going to be an [00:07:00] LLC, a sole proprietor, an S corp, a C corp, like whatever that looks like.

[00:07:04] And then you need to get an EIN number. Okay. Because you have to have an EIN number in order to get a bank account. So you need a business bank account. You need insurance. And y'all, let me just tell you that insurance for interior design is more complicated than you would imagine. It's not something that you're going to be able to call up your state farm.

[00:07:26] And no disrespect to State Farm. No disrespect to the general. insurance, but there's a lot of nuances that go on in interior design that your standard insurance agent is not going to necessarily understand. So you need to find somebody specialized in interior design. I think I mentioned it a couple episodes ago, but you guys are more than welcome.

[00:07:47] If you want to DM me and ask for my referral, I don't get a kickback from them at all. But they do a good job. And if I can pass that information on to you, especially In the instance that you need the insurance, [00:08:00] I would really like for you to have some good insurance. So let me know and I can pass that information on to them.

[00:08:05] You're going to want a resale certificate because babe, you're going to want to sell furniture. We talked about this. , we touched on it last episode, I believe that with some of the worst advice I ever got. , and that is telling the client, telling the customer how you make your money. And one of them is by selling furniture.

[00:08:22] If you're not selling furniture, if you are just going to home goods and getting furniture, maybe marking some of that up, or , you're going to Pottery Barn and getting your 20%, y'all, that's a good start. That's just baby steps. You need to be buying wholesale and reselling at retail. Okay, so you need your resale certificate.

[00:08:40] You're going to need a website. Okay, you're going to need a website in order to get your business started. You're going to need somebody to design it. You're going to have the content created and you need to purchase the domain name. Okay, so those are on your checklist. You need to determine if you need a business license.

[00:08:58] I don't know if that is by city [00:09:00] or by state. But you need to look into it in your locale. And of course, you're going to need office equipment, okay? I pretty much think you can start with a good laptop or desktop, whatever floats your boat. Your cell phone is plenty. , you'll probably want to get a phone line. , I do recommend that you use a different number from your cell phone for your business. Because what if somebody's calling you at 11 o'clock at night and they just want to inquire and now we can put our phones on do not disturb and stuff like that right now, but just keep that in mind. Okay. You can get a voice over internet provider VoIP.

[00:09:37] And oftentimes you can just get an app. And you can do that. And I think even Google offers something, Google Voice or something. So those are some of the key things that you're going to need to get your business started. Another thing to consider is going to be your mailing address. , do you want people to have access to your home as your mailing address?

[00:09:57] There's other options, like you can go to and just rent , a [00:10:00] postal box, a lot of the, , co working spaces. For example, here in Dallas, we've got the, Studio Works, which is my co-working space that we offer to interior designers, contractors. , architects, builders, like people who are involved in the trade, interior photographers, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:10:15] Um, and we have just mailboxes here that you can lease for like, I don't know, is it 15 bucks a month or eight bucks a month? I don't know. But that way you don't have to list your home address as your mailing address. So there's, there's options and that's personal preference. Um, if I was single, if I I don't want that information out there.

[00:10:34] Now that I have a kid, I really don't want my information out there because I put her on the gram every once in a while. She's so darn cute, but that's a different conversation. [00:11:00] [00:12:00] How do you get your business started? Some other things that you're going to need to keep in mind are going to be, you need to keep in mind that this is a business and not a hobby.

[00:12:15] So every time you go to work, you need to be in a professional mindset. Okay. That doesn't mean that you can't work in your pajamas on some days, but you need to treat this as a business. When you're making decisions, is this going to make me money? Okay. It doesn't mean you're money grubbing. And I know I love talking about money because I love money.

[00:12:37] But I love what it allows me to do. It allows me to give back. It allows me to maybe not work so hard pursuing the design money because I can turn around and I can help others through education. And I do get paid well for that, but the money is why we do this. If you don't care about the money, then go donate your time to charity.

[00:12:58] Don't donate it to [00:13:00] quote unquote clients. Okay. Donate your gift to a charity who can benefit and help others from it. When you come to work, you, this is a business. This is not a hobby. Okay. You're going to be a “big girl business.” When you are getting your business started, you need to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

[00:13:25] Being in business is hard. Okay. Not every day. Not every day sucks. Okay. If that was the case, I wouldn't have been doing it for this long, but if you think that you are going to start your business and it's going to be rainbows, unicorns and berry dust. And poof, it's going to be making houses beautiful and that you get your business plan together and in three years you're going to be making three and a half million dollars.

[00:13:48] Babe, I gotta tell you, yeah, three and a half million. Sure, that's possible. It's not very likely unless you don't sleep and you just have this uncanny ability to [00:14:00] motivate others and all marketing like a maniac. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It's hard. Just choose your level of hard, but you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

[00:14:13] If you are not okay with that, then it's time for some reflection and whether or not you truly are. You're probably very capable, but are you destined to own your own business? Being uncomfortable is a very, very common practice in business. There are going to be times where you're like, I don't know where my next client's going to come from.

[00:14:37] How am I going to keep the doors open? Okay, or, or I, I'm so upset with this vendor because they, they're so late in their deliverables that I have to go and be uncomfortable telling my client this and I know they're going to yell at me because their daughter's getting married and they want to have their house ready to um, host the reception or whatever.

[00:14:57] Okay, like there's always something, but you, you, you're going to have to be [00:15:00] comfortable. being uncomfortable. Uh, it's important that you, if you are going to get your business started, and by starting, it can be, it can be started like brand new from the ground, like the decide and tell others that this is what you're doing.

[00:15:14] And then you come up with a name. Okay. It's what started, but it could also be this next level of business. So maybe you've been in business for a couple of years or a couple of months, or you are wanting to get out of the corporate environment. in some other industry and really dig into this thing that you've been doing as a side hustle that you've just built and you love.

[00:15:36] You want to do this full time. Well, then it's important that you invest in yourself. Okay. You need to invest in yourself. And, and, and by that, I mean like it's investing in yourself. What does that look like? That could, it's going to be. Um, hiring a business coach. Okay. It could be hiring somebody that helps you learn how to speak publicly.

[00:15:54] Okay. A gratuitous plug, go check out the interior design business bakery that [00:16:00] teaches you exactly how to scale and, um, and increase your revenue so that you're up in the multiple six figures and you're doing it with profit and passion. Okay. Investing in yourself could be a reading. Uh, reading business books on a regular basis.

[00:16:16] It could be listed. Ah, let's say you're listening to this podcast. That's investing in yourself. Okay. So investing in yourself, it can be a very high ticket, like the interior design business bakery, or it could be free like this podcast, or it could be a 35 business book, whatever this looks like, okay. It can be attending workshops.

[00:16:35] It can be attending masterminds. It can be, there's a variety of different things, but you have to. Invest in yourself. When your cash is tight, you invest at a lower price point. When you are getting some traction and momentum, and you know that you want to move your business forward more quickly than if you were to just do it yourself, then you're going to invest a little bit more money.

[00:16:58] Okay, when I started [00:17:00] my interior design business bakery, I invested in a coach and I believe the program was like twenty two something thousand dollars, twenty two or twenty six or something like that. I was scared shizzle less, okay, I'm trying not to swear as much on the podcast because you might have your kids in the backseat or something, but I was scared.

[00:17:18] I was scared. Okay. I was like peeing down my legs scared, but I also knew that this is exactly what I needed to take my business to the next level so that I could have more impact with more people. It's the same thing for you and your interior design business. Okay. If you, when you, when you get a coach, when you join a program, when you invest in yourself, you're also much more likely to take it seriously than if you are just taking notes based on this podcast.

[00:17:46] Okay. I know it's the same thing. Like last week I was telling you that you can't work for free until you're established. Like that was one of the worst pieces of advice I ever got. It's the same thing. It's the same thing. If you don't, if you don't charge your clients, they're not going to [00:18:00] take it seriously.

[00:18:00] And they're not going to put as much effort into giving you the information that you need in order to turn around and create a beautiful design. They're going to be questioning it. Well, she gave this to me for free or really cheap. Is it really any good? Okay. So you have to be able to, well, one, be uncomfortable asking for the amount of money that you're, you, you can value yourself at that's a whole other podcast.

[00:18:23] Okay. but my point is, you have to invest in yourself. It's going to give you more confidence to turn around and charge more as well. Not just from a, you know, mindset You know, like confidence, but because if you get established business practices and processes and those details that you can implement and you can see that they work, you're going to be able to turn around and charge exponentially more than you're charging today.

[00:18:50] Again, you have to stair-step into what makes sense for you. Free podcast today, 35 business books tomorrow, maybe a 2, [00:19:00] 000 weekend workshop in the future. And then I don't know, maybe the interior design business bakery. So, you can stair step into that as you grow and mature in your business. So, so, so those are things that you have to do in order to get your business started or to continue starting that next chapter in your business.

[00:19:19] And then finally, and this, this kind of goes over from the beginning, deciding that you were going to start your business, telling other people and, and, and, and actually implementing it. And I'll tell you, I've been in this business since 2000. Eight, really full-time since 10 on, um, high, high design focus since 13.

[00:19:40] So I guess we're, I'm, I'm on my 10th or 11th year, let's just say for interior design, but since 2008, I think it's been like 15 years. And on a, on the regular, something that I have to navigate are my thoughts. Okay, and so let's talk about this. Your [00:20:00] thoughts, your thoughts are just that. They are not reality.

[00:20:05] Although oftentimes we believe them to be reality. Our thoughts turn into our beliefs and then our beliefs turn into our routines and our habits and our identity. But our thoughts are simply part of ancient software. That we call our mind. Okay, I say ancient software because it has not been upgraded.

[00:20:28] There's not, like, a human mind 2.0. Okay, that we've tapped into. I firmly believe that the Lord has created it and we all possess it, but we haven't necessarily tapped into it. But the mind itself was created to protect us. And it has not changed in eons. It was created to protect us, to keep us safe, to look for what is wrong in every situation.

[00:20:55] Let me repeat that. Our mind is built. To look for [00:21:00] what's wrong in every situation. The intent is to keep us safe, but what's wrong isn't always true. What's wrong when you have this ancient brain and you're back, or ancient mind and you're back in the day, you might be looking for what's wrong.

[00:21:18] And that could be that there's some birds chirping in the tree because there's a saber-toothed tiger lurking and ready to pounce on you. What could be wrong is like there's a little extra movement in the water because there's a, like an ancient crocodile that's ready to pounce on you, like all these things or, or, or there's a, there's a warring tribe that's going to come over and, um, you know, take over and pillage the village.

[00:21:43] Pillage the village, huh? That's funny. And take the women and children. I don't know, like all these things that could be wrong. Well, now your mind is looking for what's wrong. It's like, Oh, that person's trying to steal from me, or, Oh, this is never going to work. Or, or I'm not qualified to be a business owner, or I'm not good [00:22:00] enough.

[00:22:00] And your brain's trying to protect you. Your brain's trying to protect you by telling you these stories that you're not qualified or that you're not good enough or that you can't do something because your mind knows that it will hurt to pursue it. Remember, I just said that you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

[00:22:17] Well, the whole time that you're trying to get comfortable being uncomfortable, your mind's saying, I'm not comfortable, I'm not comfortable, this isn't safe, holy cow, there's something wrong, there's something wrong, I'm not comfortable. Okay, so you're battling these thoughts. So, in business, you have to, when, when you get your business started and as you're going through each phase in your business, you have to be able to acknowledge that that's just a thought.

[00:22:43] I'm capable of doing this, even if I don't have my interior design degree. Okay. I'm worthy of this. Even though I don't have an extensive portfolio, whatever the case may be, or maybe you're telling yourself that I can't do this because I don't come from this, um, from [00:23:00] this world. This is a luxury service. I was not raised in luxury.

[00:23:04] Y'all babes. I can tell you, I wasn't raised in luxury either. We used to eat popcorn for dinner because we were so poor. We couldn't afford the R. Okay. So, these are the stories that you tell yourself. Okay. These are the stories that I told myself, like, I'm not worthy. I can't do this. I don't run in these circles.

[00:23:21] I don't know how to talk to these people. How do I act this way? Like all these things. This is my mind getting in the way. What stories do you tell yourself? What stories are in your mind? Because those are just thoughts. Do you see the difference? Those are thoughts. Those are not reality. But so many times we get stuck in our head thinking that our thoughts are reality.

[00:23:43] You have thoughts. You are not your thoughts. Okay, I'm going to repeat that. You have thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You have toenails, you are not your toenails, [00:24:00] okay? So when those thoughts start permeating your mind, and they start, your mind is trying to protect you, remind yourself that those are just thoughts, and you can acknowledge that thought.

[00:24:13] Like, you could literally, like, just think of the little thought bubble from, um, like the comics or the cartoons or something, there's a thought bubble that's up above your head, it goes boop boop boop, and it's like, what? You can't do this. Okay. So just acknowledge that thought and point at it and say, I see you, you stinking little thought.

[00:24:29] I see you. I see you. You're not real. I don't believe that. And then empower yourself by potentially filling yourself with an empowering thought. I'm a badass. I'm a badass. I can do this. I can do this. Like whatever it is. Just acknowledge that you do not have thoughts. Did I just say that? You have thoughts.

[00:24:51] You are not your thoughts. You do have thoughts. Production's gonna fix that or not. Doesn't matter if they do. We're keeping it real over here, right? So you [00:25:00] have thoughts. These thoughts are going to try to undermine you. So if you get nothing else out of this episode That's why I said stick around, even if you've been in business for a while.

[00:25:12] If you get nothing else out of it, just know that we all have thoughts. We all have these moments of insecurity and disbelief, and it is our mind trying to protect us. You are not your thoughts. You are not your mind. Acknowledge it, recognize it, call it out, and move on. So, Rock on with your bad self.

[00:25:34] If you've already started your business, if you're thinking about it, just go do it. Just go do it. You're going to build a plane while you fly it. And a couple of things as I wrap up here. Of course, you know, about my review and planning guide, you can go to Designed For the Creative Mind.com forward slash review guide.

[00:25:49] Okay. And that is a free interior design business review and planning guide. It's really badass. Um, you're going to want to pay, you're going to want to send me money for it. I'll take it if you [00:26:00] want, but then also if you want some business tips, some encouragement, being privy to new releases, new items.

[00:26:10] I'd mentioned that, uh, sugar and spice society. I need to get that on there. If you want to be in the know on what's going on, where to be things that are happening and so forth. but also, like I said, if you want a business bestie, that's going to send you business tips, encouragement, um, guidance, like maybe a little strategy sessions, you can get that all on your telephone by texting.

[00:26:32] By texting the word “bestie”, like your business bestie in, in, at your fingertips to 855-784-8299. Text bestie to 855-784-8299. I'll make sure that's in the show notes also in case you're driving. Okay. Don't pull over and wreck rewinding to get that phone number. We'll have it all for you. And then finally, of course, you know my favorite little “ask” at the end of the session is to [00:27:00] please leave us a review wherever you listen to this podcast.

[00:27:04] So until next time, thanks for being here, babe.

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