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3 Things They Didn't Teach You in Design School

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Now that you are a design business owner, have you come across those moments where you've thought, "I wish they would have taught me this in design school..."

It's a feeling most of us can relate to – the stark contrast between the academic world and the actual demands of the business arena.

Let me tell you, the transition from design school to the business world is eye-opening.

Suddenly, the intricacies of running a design business aren't just about aesthetics and creativity – there was a whole different side to it. The business aspects, forming the right team, figuring out marketing strategies... None of this was ever a prominent chapter in design textbooks.

How about you? Have you had this moment of realization?

Did you, too, find yourself facing a set of challenges that design school didn't quite prepare you for? Join the club!

I'm here to share experiences and, perhaps, to nod along as you resonate with the journey of diving headfirst into the business realm post-design school. The transitions are real, and they're probably more common than we think. So, if you've ever felt that design school left a few key lessons out, trust me, you're not alone.

How to Form a Design Business Ah, the elusive world of business formation – the fine art of putting together the puzzle pieces that design school often neglected to mention. And trust me, I'm no stranger to this missing link. Whether its design school, medical school, or any other profession, schools simply do not prepare you for business ownership.

Things like structuring a business, understanding legalities, and establishing a roadmap for financial sustainability – all these seemed to be fragments of an unknown world when I first started out.

My experience became a sort of on-the-go learning expedition. I filled the gaps through trial and error, seeking mentorship, and devouring every piece of information I could get my hands on. But oh, the time it took! What I would have given for a comprehensive guide, a crash course in business formation tailored to the design entrepreneur. If only I'd known earlier what I know now!

And that's the nugget I want to share with you – the insights and lessons learned. These missing bits in design school can be pivotal.

So, here's a question to ponder...

When you began your entrepreneurial journey, did you also find yourself navigating uncharted waters in terms of business formation?

What were the challenges, and how did you tackle them?

This is the space where we can connect our experiences and perhaps find shared solutions. After all, we're in this together, and learning from each other’s experiences can be the best teacher in a domain where the books might not have covered it all. The Perils of Hiring One of the most vital yet surprisingly daunting aspects when setting up your design business is, Hiring.

Hiring, to say the least, poses a myriad of challenges. It's like building your dream team, hoping that each piece fits perfectly into the grand puzzle of your creative vision.

Reflecting on my journey, I've had my fair share of hiring missteps and enlightening lessons.

I once hired an "Independent Sales Rep", as a 1099 contractor (Notice I didn't say 1099 "employee"). In the interview, I asked if she worked for other companies, and she said yes. She worked for me for about 3-months, when I got a call from an unknown number. It was her, calling from a land line. She shared that she lost her phone, but was waiting to get paid to get out and do more sales. I had a corporate account with AT&T, so I offered to get her a new Blackberry (I'm aging myself). So, I went to AT&T, and called her to ask which color phone she wanted (she went with purple).

A few week later, she called to let me know she had been in a car accident, and needed to sort that out before scheduling more sales meetings.

A few weeks later, I get a knock at my door from the Sheriff. It turns out she's taking me to labor court. In court the judge simply asked me if I provided her with a company cell phone. I did. So the judge told me that she was a "defacto employee", and that I was responsible for the damage and lost wages.

My lack of knowledge cost me $28,000.

When you become a business owner, no one simply gives you knowledge. Even a Masters in Business Administration, teaches you how to "manage" a business. They don't teach you how to "own" a business.

So, I learned through experiences – some smooth, some bumpy. And that's where I wish someone had guided me earlier. I would've wanted to know the secret formula to hiring the perfect fit for my team, combining skills, culture, and drive.

So, here's a nugget of advice for you, fellow design entrepreneurs: when you're hiring for your business, try not to solely focus on a resume. Consider the individual's alignment with your team's culture and values. This approach often leads to a more harmonious and fruitful team dynamic.

Now, here's where I'd love to hear from you. Have you faced similar challenges in hiring for your design business? What lessons have you learned? Did you ever have that "aha" moment that changed your perspective on hiring? Sharing experiences and learning from each other can be immensely beneficial in navigating this challenging yet crucial aspect of business formation. So, let's hear your story! Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business Let's talk about the unsung hero of business growth: marketing.

It's the powerful engine that propels your brand, reaches your audience, and gives your design business the visibility it needs. As I've come to realize, marketing is not just an option; it's a cornerstone in the growth of your interior design enterprise.

When I first started navigating the business world, the significance of marketing was akin to an 'Aha' moment. Marketing didn't just mean selling; it was about storytelling, building relationships, and creating a community around your brand. It's that magic that draws people in and keeps them engaged.

Now, insights into marketing strategies can be a game-changer. Think social media, collaborations, branding - it's a world of its own, and I'll be the first to admit, I had my hits and misses here. I once experimented with a marketing strategy that seemed brilliant on paper. But once executed, it didn't quite generate the expected buzz. What did I learn? Well, sometimes, simplicity trumps complexity. A more straightforward, honest approach was what worked best for me in the long run.

So, for all the design entrepreneurs out there, here's a nugget: take your audience on a journey, sharing highlights, stumbling blocks and how you solved design problems for each of your products. Treat your marketing and social media as your own HGTV show. Take audiences along the journey.

Now, how about your experiences? What's worked well in marketing your design business?

Have you ever tried a strategy that was a game-changer, or perhaps faced a curveball that taught you a lesson? Reflecting on your marketing journey can be illuminating – you might discover patterns and strategies that truly make a difference in your business's growth. Feel free to share your insights, as together, we can learn from each other's successes and challenges in the world of marketing for interior design. Call to Action - Strategy Call Invite Hey, you! Yes, you – the ambitious and driven design entrepreneur looking to level up your game. I've got a golden ticket waiting just for you.

Here's the deal: I'd love to extend a personal invitation for a 30-minute strategy call – an opportunity for us to connect, share experiences, and unearth the magic potion to streamline your design business. It's not just a call; it's a space where we brainstorm, exchange ideas, and figure out ways to elevate your business to greater heights.

I'm not your typical advisor; I'm a fellow enthusiast, someone who's been in your shoes, navigating the challenges and discoveries that come with running a design and consulting business. Whether you're seeking solutions, looking for insights, or just need a friendly chat, this call is where it all starts.

Let's get things rolling together. Imagine a cozy chat where we exchange stories, discuss the nitty-gritty, and discover the steps to transform your business into a lean, mean, design-savvy machine. Your dreams are within reach, and this call is the first step to making them a reality. So, don't hesitate – take the leap and join me in this journey of learning, growth, and success.

Book your 30-minute strategy call, and let's embark on this adventure together. I can't wait to connect and share our passion for design and business!

Let's dive in, shall we?

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