How to Start an Interior Design Business

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 64,000 interior designers worked in the US in 2022. As an interior designer, you could be an expert at making interior rooms visually pleasing. Are you wondering how to start an interior decorating business? Keep reading to discover what steps you need to take, like purchasing interior design business insurance, starting your portfolio, and registering your business.

How to Start an Interior Design Business

Do you want to know how to start an interior design business? You must choose the identity of your business brand, obtain a vendor’s license, and more.


Create Your Own Business Name

The first step to know on your journey of how to start an interior design company is choosing the right business name. Some tips for choosing a business name include:

  • Keep it simple: Your name should be easy to pronounce and spell. A simple name sticks in your customer’s minds easier, so you are more likely to come up when they need your service. A simple name is also easier to type into a customer’s web browser, making you easier to search.

  • Check your competition: You cannot choose a name that a competitor in your state has already registered as. Check the Secretary of State’s website for ideas and the names already taken.

  • Communicate your brand: Your business name should communicate the angle your business is appealing to. For example, if you want to communicate the uniqueness of your brand, you could use a name like “Galaxy Interior Design.” Essentially you want your business name to communicate the benefit your business offers customers.

Appeal to Specific Customers

Do you want to learn how to start an interior design firm? In that case, you will want to choose a segment of customers to appeal to. You won’t have the expertise to appeal to everyone, nor should you want to. By carving out a niche in the market, you can get good helping a certain kind of customer. Customer types you might want to appeal to include:

  • Homeowners: Homeowners will hire you to redesign their living spaces to make them look nicer and increase property value.

  • Aesthetic businesses: A business that wants its customers to experience a unique visual vibe when shopping at their store might hire an interior designer to accomplish that goal. 

  • Busy customers: Sometimes, people would be capable of handling their interior design decisions themselves but are too busy with their daily lives. Instead of investing time they don’t have, they might hire an entire designer to get their vision expertly realized.

Develop a Brand Identity

Are you interested in learning how to set up an interior design business? A critical consideration to make is how you want to appeal to customers. Do you want to appeal to their wallets by offering low prices? Perhaps you want to position yourself as a quality leader in your area and charge more but offer better service. Lean into your strengths. Maybe you are good at designing furniture to go into a room or decorating a specific room like a den. You could make those strengths part of your brand identity and make them a talking point to project confidence to your customers.


Register Your Business

Do you want to know how to start a home design business and operate under a business name? In that case, you will need to register your business legally. Below is a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of common business structures.

Business Structure Advantages Disadvantages
Sole proprietorship Simple to form, retain sole ownership Have to take on business debts if your business struggles
Corporation Protected from business liability, can issue stocks More rules to follow, expensive to form, taxed twice on income
Limited liability company No corporate tax, protected from business liability More expensive than a sole proprietorship


Get a Federal Tax ID

Do you want to know how to start your interior design business? Another essential step is getting an employer’s identification number (EIN). You can apply for an EIN on the IRS website, by fax, or by mail. This number is required before you can hire employees as a business or open a business bank account. An EIN is a taxpayer ID number that makes it easier to file your taxes since the IRS has you on record. Typically this is the only form of federal registration you need for your business.


Get a Vendor’s License

A vendor’s license is a critical step when learning how to start my interior design business. A vendor’s license is required before you start charging customers for services in your jurisdiction. A vendor’s license gives you the right to charge tax on services to customers. You must renew your vendor’s license yearly for a small fee. You can apply for a vendor’s license on your state’s website or by visiting your county’s government office.


Decide What Services to Offer

Another consideration when learning how to start your own interior decorating business is what services you will offer customers. There are many different kinds of services customers need. You can offer a full-service interior design experience where you handle many projects at once. However, you may choose to offer services individually. Some service examples include

  • Paint color: Using your interior design expertise, you will decide on a color scheme for the house’s interior.

  • Lighting design: This service will design the setup for the lighting fixtures and structures in a home.

  • Art procurement: To add extra flair to a room, you may go and find art pieces that fit the project’s design.

  • Outdoor space design: While you typically deal with interior design, some customers may prefer an outdoor living philosophy. This project will require you designing rooms that flow seamlessly into the outdoors.

  • Disability needs: Certain clients may need help designing interior spaces to accommodate their disability, like changing stairs or the flow of the building.

  • Furniture refurbishing: With this service, you can restore old client furniture and create a fresh look in a room.

Hire Employees

Are you asking yourself the question of how do i start an interior design business? Hiring employees is a critical step for your interior design business as you expand but sometimes right from the beginning. As an interior designer, you may want to hire additional laborers that help you move furnishings and create a vision for your room. If you are less technologically savvy, you might want to hire a technician that knows how to use 3d modeling or 3d printing. You can employ a business assistant to answer client calls and schedule meetings. A bookkeeper helps keep track of finances and manage payroll for other employees.

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How to Start a Freelance Interior Design Business

Are you interested in how to start a freelance interior design business? Be sure to create a portfolio for your work and a website to host it.


Create a Website

Creating a website is a critical step to research when learning how can one start an interior design business. Your website is a 24/7 billboard for customers to discover your services and see your portfolio. If you invest time and resources into your website, it will be discoverable online, generating natural traffic that hopefully translates into business. The steps to start a website include:

  1. Get a domain name: A domain name is the unique address people connect to find your site. You can get a domain name from a domain registrar or service like Google Domains. With Google Domains, you can get a domain name for as little as $7 per year.

  2. Hire a web host: Web hosts are responsible for storing your website data and managing site traffic. Without a web host, people won’t be able to view your site.

  3. Design the site: You can use a service like Wix or Squarespace to design your website affordably. They offer templates that look professional and help draw attention to your services.

Upwork

When learning how to start your own interior design company, consider growing your business through Upwork. Customers will post jobs they need to be done on Upwork with a description of their needs. As a freelance interior designer, this can be an excellent way to find new clients and get an idea of the kinds of skills you need to succeed for these clients. Customers can pay you through the Upwork platform, which adds extra convenience.


Put Work Into Your Portfolio

A crucial step when learning how to start an interior decor business is drafting and publishing a portfolio of your work. Your portfolio is a visual resume showing clients and potential employers alike. Your portfolio should you have expert knowledge in all parts of the interior design process. You will want to show mood boards, finished products, visual sketches, and drawings. Essentially you want to show off your visual style while presenting it professionally.


Pick Projects You Like

When deciding how to make your own interior design company, you should first focus on tackling projects you are passionate about. While you may be anxious to start taking on all jobs offered to you when starting out, it will help you in the long run to find projects you like. If you do work you love, you will have increased productivity and be better motivated to do excellent work. High-quality work is worth more than the sum of its parts and will open more opportunities than work you don’t have your heart in.


Develop Skills

Developing the right skill set is essential when learning how to start up an interior design business. Not everyone can be a good interior designer when starting out. You must have a keen eye for detail to implement visually pleasing designs that meet client expectations. Sometimes clients have complicated requests which will require experience to solve creatively. The best way to develop the skills necessary for an interior designer is experience. Consider taking an interior design course from a place like The Interior Design Institute or the New York Institute of Art & Design.


Create a Social Network to Help You Find Clients

When figuring out how to start a business of interior designing, getting a steady supply of clients is essential. This is especially true as a freelance interior designer. It helps to contact other interior designers to get referrals and maintain relationships with them. As you expand your social network, you can more easily find customer leads. There are also communities you can join online, like the American Society of Interior Designers. They connect entire designers across the US and Canada through different chapters. This organization has over 13,500 design members and over 350 chapters.


Get Certified

Certification can be critical when researching how to open an interior design firm. If you are certified, you will gain legitimacy in customers’ eyes, who are more likely to trust you to do a good job. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification has an exam where you will be tested on your expertise in interior design concepts and safety regulations. The exam consists of 100 scored questions, setting you apart from novice interior designers.


Stay on Top of Trends

Are you trying to answer the question of how to start my own interior decorating business? It is essential to be aware of trends within interior design so you can make good decisions about the design of projects. You will want to know what is popular among furniture pieces, color schemes, room layouts, flooring types, and amenities. The Home Design Insitute estimates that interior design trends change every two to five years.

How to Grow a Interior Design Business

Do you want to know how to grow a interior design business? You will want to expand your business through email campaigns and maintaining a presence on social media.


Try an Email Campaign

When discovering how to start a home interior decorating business, you will want to figure out ways to make your brand more visible to customers. Utilizing an email marketing campaign is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your business. Forbes says that email marketing has a $45 to $1 return on investment. You can use an email campaign to deliver a targeted message to potential customers that is designed to convert them. 


Reach Out to Influencers

One of the most trusted sources today, especially among younger audiences, is social media influencers. By teaming up with a popular influencer in your area, you can expand your business’s reach and gain their audience’s trust. An influencer can create content showing how visually pleasing your interior design choices are and link directly to your website.


Work on Customer Service

Being an effective communicator is essential as an interior designer. You will want to gain experience so you can project confidence to customers. A client will respond better to great customer service. With customer service, you can upsell products that a client might not consider. If your customers have a high opinion of their experience, they are likelier to be loyal and recommend your business.

Keep an Active Social Media Presence

You will want to create and manage an active account on a site like Twitter, Facebook, Tiktok, or Instagram. Social media allows you to reach new customers and expand your brand’s reach. Create engaging content on a social media account so your posts will get popular, drawing more eyes to your business.


Learn More About Technology

Technology is constantly changing, and if you want to grow your business, you must accept this change. Take time to learn about technology like 3d models to improve the presentation of your interior design services. Another technology to utilize in your business is 3D printing. 3D printing gives you a greater ability to customize furniture to achieve your vision for an interior room better. You can create wholly original pieces of furniture that don’t look like anything else.

An interior designer looking for project ideas.

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Insurance Requirements for Boosting Income

Without insurance coverage, your interior design business risks losing everything from a customer lawsuit or devastating physical damage like a fire. Below are some critical policies to protect your interior design business income, boosting the amount you take home instead of allocating on these expenses.


Business Owner’s Policy

This comprehensive form of insurance combines multiple policies. A business owner’s policy will combine general liability and commercial property coverage. NEXT is our top pick for a business owner’s policy. It offers all the same coverage as their general liability insurance at an affordable price. The company boasts a 4.7/5 rating from its customer reviews. You can get additional discounts when bundling multiple policies. NEXT has an A- from AM Best and a B+ from the Better Business Bureau.


General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance protects your business against bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury claims. This policy focuses on third-party claims. Thimble is our recommended choice for your general liability policy. They allow you to purchase short-term general liability insurance. You can define the policy duration for the length of a project, down to the day and hour. Thimble has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.


Professional Liability Insurance

Your professional ability insurance will cover lawsuits and legal costs related to professional mistakes. If you are negligent in services, this policy will help you cover a customer lawsuit resulting from your negligence. This insurance also covers events like libel, slander, and copyright infringement. Hiscox is our top pick for this policy. They offer specialty insurance tailored to your needs. They serve over 500,000 customers, the majority being small businesses. Hiscox has an A from financial rater AM Best.


Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance covers your business building, equipment, and supplies when physically damaged. The policy covers vandalism, fire, theft, explosions, water damage, wind damage, and lightning. CoverWallet is an excellent choice for commercial property insurance. They are an online insurance platform with over ten partners to choose from. The company has sold over 125,000 policies and has an A+ from the Better Business Bureau.


Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial auto insurance is necessary when using your vehicles for work-related activities. It will cover accidents your vehicles get in and help you pay for the damage. Tivly is our recommended pick for this policy. In just a short phone call, they match you with the right partners from over 200. The company boasts a 4-second phone answering rate. Tivly has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau.


Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers’ compensation insurance pays the medical costs for injured or ill employees. This policy is required in most states once your business starts hiring. The Hartford has an excellent workers comp policy. They have over 200 years of insurance experience and let you make payments on your policy as you go.  The Hartford has an A- rating from AM Best.

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