There's so much happening around here that I almost let January slip by without revisiting my business goals. :-)
I've been meaning to publish these, since I know there are lots of designers that read this blog and I always like to hear other designers being honest about their businesses. So, finally, I'm screeching in right at the end of January to share what's up. Okay, it is, in fact, now February. :-)
I have to get more focused in my biz because the economy is still kind of dragging around here, as many of you in the oil business know. All the reps that come by are commiserating with me, people aren’t doing that much all over the Houston area apparently. Our industry continues to change too and we have to change with it, so we are always evaluating and adjusting.
Basically, I want more free time, more time to write, more time to exercise and plan healthy meals. (Well, I'm saying that.) I feel like I know myself and how I work by now and I much prefer to have a few larger jobs than lots of little ones. I’ve been reading and listening to podcasts like crazy, trying to come up with real direction.
I feel like I’m sort of the crash test dummy for interior design business (not to steal Pat Flynn’s tag line), but it’s true. I’ve gone several different directions and tried out lots of ideas. After this slow year in 2016, I’m a little gun shy and want to reduce risk and hone in some more. I want to make every moment I spend doing design to matter, to have good outcomes for my clients and to produce publishable work that I can be proud of too. It's never just about the money, although it has to be, of course.
I think I kind of have a hybrid business that isn’t really typical in the big, luxury, real design world. While a lot of designers blog to attract and educate potential clients and make themselves known, it’s not really their main gig and they don’t blog to make money at blogging.
Well, I’m sure they’d like to if it was easy, but, turns out, it’s kind of a full time business in itself. (Wouldn’t you know.)
Of course, a lot of design bloggers turn into designers, but I think many stay more focused on their blogs, making money there, as opposed to becoming primarily a designer. (Not all, but many.) And then there are a few that hit the big time, hire people to help with all the different parts and somehow have it all mastered. :-) Kudos for that!
Most consultants say you have to pick a lane (so I’ve been told). “Are you a designer or a blogger?”
Hmmm. That’s a hard one for me. And believe me, I know it would make things crystal clear if I could decide. I love both and I don’t think I can do one without the other. I have to quit it all, cold turkey, or continue on in this duality.
We had growing pains and I hired people to help me handle all of our projects. I put my stake in this studio, which I have loved. However, I realize that the time has come to get my overhead down and cut things back a bit. My lease is up this month and I’m downsizing to a smaller studio. Not as much of a rent reduction as I'd like, but it will help a bit.
My husband is after me to just move it home, but I HATE working out of my home. I love having some of my samples around me during the day. They inspire me and make it easier to do my job. I also have Jitka here, helping me, and want her to have a great place to work because I just can’t live without her now. :-)
So, I’m moving down the street. It’s a smaller space, about 450 sf, and it will be more of a back-of-house type studio. We’re going to load it up with as many samples as we can take, then put a big work table in the center. We’ll have small desks for us and then….that’s it!
This cool little building has a community break room and a conference room we can book for presentations and appointments. It’s modern and nice. I looked at several options before deciding on this space, and really, I was looking for a place that I WANTED to come to every day. I wanted a place that had activity, was nice and well maintained, a little edgy, and well, I love this street! :-)
I have all that in my space now, I am just paying for too much square footage. And really, we could stand to lose some of our samples already!
We’ve been culling and will have lots more to do, of course. I’ve sold some items out of my studio, but I still have my table and chairs that I used as my conference table.
These were initially bought for my location in even another building that I was sharing with a contractor (before he filed for bankruptcy just after the last crash in the economy). It actually fit the style of that space, which was a renovated old house, more than it did in my present space, but it worked. I definitely don’t have room for it in the new location, so if you’re in the market for a used dining table and some Tuscan style chairs with the letter “A” embroidered on the back, they’re going for cheap on Woodlands Online.
I’m also selling this 10 x 14 Oushak rug that a client rejected, insert Emoji face with tongue sticking out, that I’m taking a huge loss on. I purchased it for $6500 and now it’s marked at $2500, also on Woodlands Online. I might even go down to $2000 if you contact me directly in the email below.
I’m super pumped to move, even though I didn’t think I would be. I’ve been needing to clean out around here and get organized and it feels good to get into it. We still have a lot of paper too and since we’re mostly digital now, many of our catalogs aren’t really necessary.
So, after listening to some great podcasts, reading, and thinking about direction, (I’ll share some of that inspiration here on my blog in an upcoming post) here are my goals for 2017.
My Biz Goals for 2017
Become more selective with projects. Slim down studio space and excess. Projects will have to be adjusted accordingly. Focus on curating approximately 1 - 2 larger scaled projects at a time that we can really sink into, with all purchasing for any goods done through my studio, except on construction projects. (Purchasing for construction items remains with the contractors.) (Click HERE, if you’re curious to see how we’ve modified our minimum design fee to help with this focus.)
Fill in between-time with one-time consultations, both in person and online. (Click HERE to find out more about these services.)
Keep up the blog with 2 posts a week. Connect and work to understand my readers more. Publish for their needs.
Write the book. Finally. The downloadable pdf info packages are great because they are more manageable to produce, but they aren’t big moneymakers. :-(
Use more antiques and unique pieces in my projects. It doesn’t all have to be new. I want to go on the hunt more for curated items and give more character to my projects. This requires higher end projects to allow for the cost of the hunt.
Specify and curate more art. Same reason as above. I want my projects to have more character and style. Buying art for clients always makes me happy and it seems I rarely get to do it.
Travel to more shows, markets, events. They inspire me and bring me closer to my peers, vendors, and other opportunities.
Keep an eye out for that perfect flip. I’m dying to flip a house!!! I’d love to partner with someone on this but I know it's really all about finding the undervalued property.
Monetize more effectively and fine tune my website. Oh, I have soooo much housekeeping to do on my website, but I will just continue to dredge through it, updating links, sources, and finding more ways to monetize posts that won’t be annoying and still bring value.
Read and monitor other industries and businesses to learn new techniques and practices.
Work on photography skills with my new camera. I’m going more DIY with everything and my daughter is too busy to come home so often to shoot for me now. :-(
Develop a few strong brand partnerships that align with my skills and clientele and will enhance my readers’ experience. Research more collaborative ventures.
Work on building my Instagram account since that seems to be the most important social platform that brands are interested in these days.
Sounds inspiring, right? I’m inspired and ready to move forward.
Things are looking up for 2017!
If you haven't heard.....I’ve been nominated for Best Design Blog and Best Design Blog Graphics, Photography, and Design this year. Stay tuned to see what happens in March!
Thank you, dear readers, for helping me get where I am today. I appreciate you following along. If you have any hints about the type of posts you’d like to see more of, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear about what you want to read.
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