The start of my Interior Design Business came about from me failing at another business. My husband and I ventured out in 2003 to open up a Bar Lounge/Restaurant and after 3 years of some serious sweat equity, financial loss and lack of experience, we were unable to get it off the ground. But, during those years I didnt realize that my design and project management skills were being honed and sharpened. Long of the short, the Architect I was working with on the project pulled me aside on the day I was handing him his final check and said "Have You Ever Thought of Being An Interior Designer, You Have a Really Great Eye" I had no idea that he was impressed with my design input in the design of the lounge and restaurant. I sat on his words, better yet I laid in bed on his words for about 6 months, feeling pity for myself at failing to get the doors open. After, many tears and some weight loss, my husband said that's enough you have to move on and use your natural gifts and talents for your next move and that next move was taking a chance at Interior Design... 12 years later, through trail and error, and lots of passion, I have built a striving business with a notable clientele!
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest hurdles in the beginning of my business as an entrepreneur was learning the business side of Interior Design. I knew how to create beautiful spaces, that came natural to me but knowing what I needed to have in my service agreement, how to charge, creating a budget, meeting deadlines, understanding the importance of my vendors and managing my clients expectations was a real learning curve that cost me some bumps and brusies to my ego, my self-esteem and my pockets.
To overcome these hurdles, I read books like "The Business Of Design" watched HGTV programs, picked the brains of other entrepreneurs, learned from my mistakes and prayed a whole lot!
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I'm always going back to "The Business of Design" - Balancing Creativity & Profitability by Keith Granet. It's has so many tools to understanding the purpose of business both for you the owner and the service you should provide. It's a great read for any entrepreneur in a creative industry.
I also keep myself filled with spiritual inspiration that is applicable to my business growth and for that I'm currently reading "Soar" by T.D. Jakes. It's a Must Read!!!!
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My Family & Friends saw my creative talents when I didn't see it in myself. They have been and continue to be supportive of me being an entreprenuer and the business I've built. I'm extremely grateful and thankful for their love, support and at times shoulder to cry on.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I would have to say it was being committed and not giving up when it looked and felt like I didn't have all the peices together. Being discouraged is a daily battle when you're tackling something that is unfamilair and out of your comfort zone. But getting up everyday and staying in the game was critical in my growth process and ultimately my success.
You can't learn the game and win the game if you're not apart of the game!
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I wish I knew that making mistakes was a big part of the process. I would advise all new entreprenuers to do their best to embrace the mistakes and failures. It's there that you learn, get thick skin and become an expert in your field.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Connect with other professionals in your industry, social media is a key outlet to building relationships locally and internationally. Don't be afraid to let folks know you're the new kid on the block. You would be surprised at the support you can get from seasoned vets who are willing to share their journey and provide you with valuable insight and tools to help you succeed!