Finding a career that drives your passion and pays the bills is everyone’s dream. You may have been drawn to a career in interior design because of your interest in rearranging your home and your friend’s homes. You may have you enjoyed the challenge of making something work for a new space and started to consider whether a career in interior design might be for you. Being an interior designer might initially seem like it’s all about paint choices and furniture placement, but there are a lot of skills required to be a successful interior designer that many people don’t consider.
If you’re considering working in interior design, there will be many challenges you may face that you may not have considered at the outset. To better understand what a career in interior design is like, here are nine challenges that professional interior designers face on a daily basis:
- Selling their ideas
While it may seem that people hire you for your ideas alone, it can be difficult for clients to let go and really embrace their interior designers’ ideas. As an interior designer, you’ll have to sell your ideas to your clients. Often, you will have to help your clients envision a space that does not exist yet, and then convince them to fund that idea. You will have to curate an arsenal of tricks to help your clients see your vision. Whether that’s paint chips, virtual layouts, fabric samples, or mockups, you will need to work very hard to convey–and ultimately sell–your vision to your clients.
- Learning to manage your time
No matter what business you work in, you will need to learn to adequately manage your time, and nowhere is that more evident than in interior design. You will need to learn to corral many different trades and suppliers to bring your visions to life, while also making sure that your clients are satisfied with the way their spaces are shaping up and how quickly it’s all coming together. Being an interior designer means that you will be working in other people’s homes and disrupting their regular day-to-day lives, which can mean tensions will rise. Knowing how to manage your time and, in turn, manage your designs and projects, will help put your clients at ease.
- Maintaining cash flow
Interior design can be a feast or famine type of business, which means that many interior designers face cash flow issues. This is why you will need to get deposits from clients before going forward with work. Clients can be hesitant about providing deposits, but deposits can prevent a cash-flow crisis from affecting your work and grinding things to a halt. Unfortunately, deposits also safeguard against the worst case scenario of clients who don’t pay for their work. This can be a very real issue for interior design firms, who often work with individuals and have to do piecemeal work.
- Learning to manage client expectations
Clients will often turn to interior designers because they have a vision or dream for their home but no way to execute it. Others may have designs in mind and then balk at the cost. Others may have unreasonable expectations about timelines or finished projects that can’t be achieved. These are all issues that you are likely to face as an interior designer and that you will need to learn to manage and navigate. This will always be a challenge that interior design firms will have to face, no matter their size or how long they’ve been in business. Working closely with clients is a requirement, and sometimes those clients may get irate or confused. It’s important to be prepared to reassure them and keep them calm if you want to stay in business.
- Managing material costs
Managing material costs is one of the biggest challenges any business will face. In interior design, labor, physical materials, and marketing can quickly add up. In an interior design business, labor costs can add up fast, especially if a project’s timeline runs long. It’s important to be cognizant of workflow inefficiency. You have to be sure that your processes are clear and that you have solid accounting in place.
- Keeping on top of self-promotion
As an interior designer, you’ll need to sell yourself, not just your business. Your clients are relying on your expertise to make their beautiful homes a reality, so self-promotion is key. From social media to advertisements, you will need to create buzz around your business to keep the cash flowing.
- Keep on top of your education
When working in interior design, you will need to stay on top of trends and styles for home design. Your clients want to know the latest and best designs out there, so you will need to make sure that you continue to expand your knowledge and your contacts. Stay on top of new kitchen designs, get ideas from Unique Vanities on up-and-coming bathroom styles, and always stay abreast of the latest paint colors.
- Get ready for fast turnarounds
For some projects, you will have plenty of time to research, design, plan, and execute your vision. However, that won’t always be the case. Sometimes, projects will land in your lap that will need to get turned around ASAP. Tight timelines will be par for the course in interior design, so you will need to have exceptional organization and management skills to make sure you can make it happen for your clients.
- Build in time for yourself
When you’re self-employed, it can be hard to remember to take time away from work to recharge your batteries. While interior design may be your passion, overworking can quickly cause you to experience burnout, which will mean that your projects will start to fall behind. Learn to delegate and hire people you trust so that you can leave work at the office from time to time. While you will most likely need to be much more hands-on when running your own interior design firm than you would be working a nine to five, you will be rewarded with the career of your dreams and the accolades of your clients–so long as you stay mentally well enough to get there!