Getting Started: What Design Services Should You Offer?

When starting your design business, if you are anything like me, you’ll have a ton of different ideas of what services you’ll offer your clients. I have to say this, just because Suzy’s Design Studio is offering a particular service doesn’t mean you have to.  I thought that I had to offer everything that the other design firms in my area were offering to be able to start & stay in business…haha what a joke.  These firms have been in business for years & it’s not fair to try to compete with them.  You are just starting out, so make a list of services that you can offer now as a beginning firm.  And while you are at it, go ahead & dream of what you’d like to be able to offer 10 years from now & keep that list tucked away.  


E-Design- If you are a stay at home mom with limited hours because you are working to take care of little ones, then this may be a perfect fit for you.  You can work with your clients via the comfort of your home, when your little ones are sleeping.  This is where I started.  I still offer e-design services to clients.  No matter their location, I can help them create spaces they love via online design.  

Premade Design Boards-You can create design boards for rooms & sale them digitally on your website for a minimal fee. These are great because you can sell these over & over again.  

Design Consultations—Design consultations are another great way to help clients.  You can offer to go into your client’s home for a certain amount of time & give them design advice for their spaces & answer any questions they have.  This is a great way to help clients use what they already have in their home to help pull their space together.  With these consultations you can also offer creating your client design boards after your initial visit for a fee. These boards are a place where you can put design inspiration for them, source items for their space, create a floor plan for them, color palettes, and the list goes on & on. My recommendation is to get paid upfront for these consultations.  I have my client's pay me for the 2 hour consult in order to secure their spot on my calendar.  

Full Service Design—Offering Full Service Designs is a big undertaking.  Full Service Design includes your initial consultation, floor plans, sourcing furniture & accessories, purchasing, scheduling delivery & installing all of the items.  It doesn’t seem like a lot at first, but you must think about having the drapery, hanging all of the artwork, moving in all the furniture.  You’ll need business insurance for this service, for sure.  To be honest, I don’t know a ton about full service design becauseI’m not there yet in my business. I hope to one day, but for right now between kid schedules & other obligations I’m not offering full service design.  

Other services you might be interested in offering would be:

Holiday Decorating

Event Styling

Room or Spot Styling (Like mantels, porches, tablescapes, etc)

The list is endless, but I recommend that you do what you can now.  Your services can change as you & your business change.  I can tell you that since being in business, I’ve changed my offerings at least 5-7 times.  With each new season that life brings, it seems that I offer things that fit with my schedule.  

If you haven't already, be sure to download my Getting Starting Business Checklist. You'll get access to it & very soon, I'll be sending you a video series of pricing, how to create design boards for free & lots more that you aren't going to want to miss! 

Getting Started: Easy Ways to Build Your Portfolio When you Don't Have Any Clients

I can assure you that you cannot get clients without having some sort of a portfolio.  Your first portfolio will be your own home.  My very first client was a friend who loved my own home.  When I told her that I was thinking about starting my business she let me know that she wanted to be my first client.

  Let your home be the beginning of your portfolio.  Style spaces in your home, take some really great pictures & put them on a file on your computer.  Full rooms, vignettes, detailed shots...don’t make it complicated. Next, move on to your friends & family.  Ask around if you can use their homes to style different spaces or vignettes.  They don’t have to buy new things, just use what they have & put your spin on it. 

Take good photos.  You don't have to hire a professional photographer for the job.  Your cell phone is more than enough to start your portfolio.  As you grow, you'll want to hire this out or invest in a good quality camera.   

Add the photos you take to your website...that I hope you are building, but if you aren't there yet, then start saving them somewhere on your computer.  Add them to your social media accounts & see if you get any feedback. 

Using your own home is the easiest & cheapest way to grow your portfolio.  

Getting Started: Setting Up Your Business

So you’ve decided to jump in & start your own interior design/decorating business.  Way to go!  Deciding to take the leap is sometimes the hardest part.  I took me 2 years before I decided to jump in because I was so scared.  Scared of not knowing what to do, where to start, and flat out failure.  But you know what?  Once I started taking little steps in my business the easier it got.  I quickly learned things that worked & didn’t work. Looking back there are a lot of things that I did out of order because I just didn’t know any better.  Now, you’ll make your own mistakes & you’ll learn from them, but it’s my hope that I can save you some time by learning from the mistakes that I have already made.  

Before we get to the fun part of creating your own design business, like what services you’ll offer, your logo & web design, we’ve got to start with the not so fun part….like business structure.  You first need to decide on how you will file your business as with the state.  Will you be an SP, GP, Corporations, LLC, LP, LLP?  Here is a quick breakdown of each of the structures to help you narrow down how you’d like to set yours up.  

  • Sole Proprietorship: run by one natural person and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business.
  • General partnership: formed by two or more people; the owners are all personally liable for any legal actions and debts the company may face, unless otherwise provided by law or in the agreement.
  • Corporation: a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law.
  • Limited Liability Company: It is a business structure that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation.
  • Limited Partnership: consists of a general partner, who manages the business and has unlimited personal liability for the debts and obligations of the Limited Partnership, and a limited partner, who has limited liability but cannot participate in management.
  • Limited Liability Partnership: some or all partners (depending on the jurisdiction) have limited liabilities. It therefore exhibits elements of partnerships and corporations. In an LLP, one partner is not responsible or liable for another partner's misconduct or negligence.

Take time to talk with a tax professional and/or business attorney to ask any questions.   They can also guide you on which structure will be best for you.  From there, set it up through your state.   And while you are at it, go ahead &  get your sales tax permit.  If you don’t need it now, you’ll need it at some point in the near future. Your state Comptrollers office should have all the information you’ll need on getting your tax permit. 

Now, once you get set up through the state, you’ll need to go ahead & set up a business bank account. You won’t be able to set it up right away because you’ll need to show proof of your business to the bank, but go ahead & start researching what all you’ll need to open a business account with your preferred financial institution. Most require a minimal deposit & proof of your business formation (you’ll get this letter once you are officially set up with your state). While you're waiting on that letter, go ahead & start your social media accounts & creating your website.  I'll be discussing all this stuff in a later post.  

What are you waiting for?  Get to work on this simple, yet very important part of the beginning stages of your business! You can download my FREE checklist to help get you started.  

Getting Started: One Big Dream

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Jumping in to anything new can be scary.  I know, I've been there. Leaving my small hometown to live the city life in Houston was probably one of the scariest things I've ever done.  But you know what?  Had I not done it, I wouldn't have met my husband. I wouldn't have 2 beautiful kiddos, and  I wouldn't be sitting behind this computer screen sharing with you how to take your big scary dreams & turn them into a reality.  

I'm a dreamer.  I have big big dreams.  Some I verbalize & get an eye roll & side smile from my husband & others are tucked away in my heart.  You see, for years I had a dream of working for myself & doing what I loved--decorating.  It has always been something that I loved.  I never told anyone my dream for a long time, because #1 my parent's paid good money for me to go to Texas A&M (WHOOP!) to get my teaching degree, #2 because I really didn't think I could actually make a business by being a decorator.  I have, no strike that, HAD no business sense whatsoever.  And after Matt & I got married we quickly got pregnant & started our family, so I had no time.  But God didn't let that flame of starting my own business die, He just said not yet.  

Fast forward 4 years & we were getting ready to move our family to a little piece of property outside of Houston.  Matt couldn't see the potential of the house we were looking at, but I knew I could turn it into our dream house.  And renovating this home, is what really set my soul on fire to live this dream.  But I spent a few years after we moved in scared to death to jump in.  Now, it wasn't the right time because our littlest was only a year and half old, but I was paralyzed by fear of failure.  I couldn't even dream about it because my fear was so crippling.  Matt, he is a business man.  He runs his family's business & is so savy when it comes to all the things.  I was scared to look like a fool in front of him.  Scared that I would start & it just wouldn't pan out for me.  I was scared that people wouldn't like my work, that people wouldn't pay me to do what I loved, that I would mess up my kids ( I know, how crazy does that sound), that I would just flat out suck at this whole decorating thing.  I know full well that Satan used my fears to get a hold of me & my mind to keep me from doing one of the things that God has called me to do in my life.  

It wasn't until a very sweet sweet friend kept asking me when I was going to start my business.  She had all the faith in the world in me.  And you know what, if you start listening to the people in your life that believe in you, you start to believe the words that they say.  Jessie never let me forget what my dream was.  She gently pushed me along the way to get me started.  Now, all that fear wasn't gone just because of one friend, but her push & lots & lots of prayers made me jump head first into business.  I jumped in with all my fears & insecurities & knew that no matter what God had me.  

I don't know what's holding you back, but I'm sure fear is part of it.  I'm here to tell you that once you jump in, fears & all, you'll look back a year from now & wonder why you were so scared.  Cause friend, it's a sweet, hard but oh so fun ride once you dive in.  

Write down any fears you have about starting your business.  Then take that paper & shred it, because God's got something amazing for you, if you'll just let them go.  It's not going to easy, but it will be worth it, I'm sure of it.  I'm shredding my fears to because if I'm going to be honest with you, then I have to let you know that pressing publish on this post will be another scary thing for me. I don't have all the answers & I'm not going to pretend to, but I want to walk along side you & cheer you on in this journey, because if I can do it, you can too! 

And after you shred your fears, go ahead & start brainstorming your business name, cause you'll need it soon!