I was recently invited to lecture to a group of interior design students at a local college about starting a business. Since I recently left the educational field to concentrate on my business, I was happy to share what I have learned, good and bad, with a group of upcoming designers.
As I began thinking about it, I realized that I had actually started 4 different businesses in my lifetime. When I was young and my kids were toddlers, I started a family day care center. That lasted 8 years. Later on when my kids were grown and gone, I decided to go to college to learn interior design. I started a business with a woman I met in my very fist class. We were alike in many ways - our kids were grown and we were of similar ages. We developed a partnership and had lots of good years designing together. After my partner moved away, I opened my own design firm under the name of Susan Newberry Designs. From there I joined the corporate world and worked in hospitality design and later started teaching. During my full time teaching years, I decided to add graphic design to my repertoire and in 2012 my Etsy store was born.
Here are some things I’ve learned…
FOCUS ON YOUR SPECIALTY: Do what you know best. Find your niche and stick with that. It might take you awhile to find what you are best at and what people want but when you do, you will know.
DETERMINE WHAT YOU WILL OFFER: Don’t take on more than you can handle, especially at first. That will come in time. You just don’t want to overwhelm yourself at first. A lot of small businesses fail when they take on too much at first. You want your business to grow. Slow and steady wins the race.
CREATE A COMFORTABLE WORK SPACE: Determine the items you will need to be successful and make your space beautiful. Make it a place you will want to be everyday. For me that started as a corner in my bedroom (thankfully I had a large bedroom). I quickly outgrew that space and took over the dining room. I outgrew that as well and now have a loft office area that houses 4 work spaces and everything I need to run my business.
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS: Build relationships with vendors and manufacturers. You wouldn’t believe how quickly we go through supplies. Having the right vendors can make sure that you never run out of things you need. And I soon learned that if I was to grow my business, I would have to reach out to different manufacturers because I couldn’t do it all myself. While I still do my basic printing, I had to find someone who could do my framing and make my canvases in order to keep up with my competition and satisfy my customers.
I hope my story has inspired you if you are just starting your own journey. There’s more to come! This is part one of a four part series on starting a business. Next time I’ll address the legalities of your business. So be sure to sign up below so you won’t miss it.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time…