Trying to build your own business is not easy. But you didn’t need me to tell you that! One of the biggest challenges I face whilst trying to build my interior design business is carving out enough time to spend on growing my brand. You may know that I have a 3 year old at home and also work part-time as a University lecturer. Therefore finding additional time to spend on my business is really challenging. However, working on my business also brings me an incredible amount of joy and so I try to plan my time wisely to achieve as much as I can each week. (By the way, if you would like a blog post on how I spend my time in the week and how much is devoted to work/family/leisure then let me know in the comments below).
Working on your own can be challenging and so I try to prioritise seeking out opportunities that will enable me to stay inspired and learn in a way that will be beneficial to my growth as an entrepreneur. Last month’s Red women week helped me to do just that, as I purchased a ticket to attend the Interior design networking event. There was a fantastic panel of experts at the event, which included interior designer Kelly Hoppen, interior stylist and solopreneur Sophie Robinson, Gemma Ahmed (head of global insight at Etsy) and Soho House’s Design Director Linda Boronkay. I was in very, very good company!
So what did I learn from listening to these four inspiring women? Here are my top five takeaways from the morning…
1.In order to stay inspired when designing interiors, spend time immersed in the talents of other artists. Both Kelly Hoppen and Linda Boronkay mentioned that for them, creative inspiration often comes from film, theatre, fashion and being with other people – not from other interiors or scrolling Pinterest.
2.When designing for Soho house, Linda Boronkay is careful to design in line with where the project is located. It’s important to immerse yourself in the local area and culture in order to design something in keeping with the location. This also enables you to create something unique.
3. ‘Have a focus and foundation to what you do’, says interior stylist Sophie Robinson. By her own admission, Sophie has a multi career portfolio and sees herself as a solopreneur. She’s an interior designer, stylist, speaker, tv presenter and more. I got the sense from listening to Sophie that she works incredibly hard, yet has a strong sense of purpose and is keen to build her career around the needs of her family. She mentioned that she has the summer and Easter off in order to be able to spend time with her son for example. Her advice was simple and succinct, yet powerful. No matter what line of work you are in, ‘stand out, be nice, shine and do the best job you can on every job’.
‘Stand out, be nice, shine and do the best job you can on every job’
4. Something that can be daunting is asking customers for feedback on your service. However feedback is positive when handled in the right way, asserts Etsy’s global insight head Gemma Ahmed. Focus on what you can change and what can be improved. Feedback is not about attacking you personally. It’s about enabling yourself to grow and improve at your craft.
5. So how do these ladies handle social media? Kelly Hoppen raised the point that social media can make your work in interiors harder, as you are aware of your competitors and what they are doing. This can easily lead you to become disheartened. She argued that the best antidote to this is to be clear about what you want to achieve and how you plan to set about achieving it. Keep your eyes focussed on your own journey and not the journey of others around you. It is important that you have a strong sense of self-belief that you can do the job. However, it is also important to be realistic and honest with yourself about your abilities; to know what you can do well and when it is more prudent to hire someone else in to help you.
I came away from the event feeling inspired, motivated and encouraged to take the next step – which for me is to advertise my interior consultancy skills locally in order to try and bring in some more business. I’ll let you know how I get on…