Since the pandemic began, we have all experienced a major pivotal moment in our design businesses. This has looked differently for many designers in our industry. There have been months where we have been so straight-out busy juggling a scope creep of 20+ projects. It’s like back in design school where you were staying up to finish you final project so you could present on time the next day… except that’s every day and there is no end in sight. And for other designers it’s been a time of self discovery – a time to slow down and really determine the direction of their business.
But then the economy shifted, and maybe the calls slowed way down or even stopped for now. And that’s scary because you’ve been so busy keeping up with the chaos that now you have to fill that pipeline that you let go dry because you were too busy to post to social media to keep it filled!
To say times have been super weird over the past couple of years is an understatement! But if there is one thing that stays true, it’s that education is key to opening doors to success.
If history has taught us anything it’s that the companies that don’t change with the times and stay stagnant don’t make it when times are hard.
Take Blockbuster for example. They didn’t think they had a worry in the world when Netflix came on the scene with their new CD by mail or vending machine game. We all know how that turned out! With how quickly technology changes in the modern world you need to keep your head on a swivel and your business always pushing forward.
It’s the companies that think that their process and products are so airtight that they don’t have to change that are the ones that will be left behind. Interior designers and firms that invest in learning what’s trending before it’s even hot are the ones that expand and scale when times are hard – and reap the benefits 10-fold. Continuing education is how you get there.
When you are just starting out as a designer and you are building your business, the possibilities are endless. Just like when you are designing a space and have access to all the most beautiful trades in the world. You can design that business in any way that you’d like – take risks, make it stand out. What’s the worst that can happen? You fail? So what, you fail and you may learn something about yourself and what you DON’T want to do next time. Honestly, failure is simply a beta test for the next, better, model.
But what if you don’t fail. What if you take all the right courses and learn from the best mentors and coaches in the industry that put you on the right path from the get-go, so that you truly understand how to build a thriving business? Well, then that would mean that you’ve made all your dreams come true, and you get to hit the next level of business after you feel that you’ve conquered the start up success!
There comes a point in every business where you are ready for further growth. You have a solid process, you love your clients, you’ve hit your groove but you want more. So you take some courses or classes and learn about some brand expansion ideas to add another extension to your business. Maybe this is passive income, more lead generation, a private label upholstery line, a new skill like rendering, teaching a course, or opening a brick and mortar store. Whatever this is for you – you want to learn how to do it in the most efficient way to give you results faster, right?
You aren’t reinventing the wheel here, basically everything has already been done before, but never before in your unique way. You just need to figure out how you can adapt different business models to YOUR business and make them work for your brand. So you learn from the best. That’s where the Interior Design Playbook comes in.
In our community over the past couple of years we’ve discussed pivoting options in depth. From working entirely remotely and communicating entirely remotely using renderings and visualizations, to totally pivoting careers and becoming a virtual assistant – we got through the pandemic together.
Designers took the time to really dig deep and evaluate where they were in their business and took education over the past couple of years very seriously. And it shows. It’s been amazing to see designers thrive and really come into their own with the skills they have learned over the past 2 years.
So what have you done in the past 2 years to better your business?
Have you added another revenue stream to your business? Is your pipeline filled? Those are the questions that everyone always goes to first, right?
But let’s dig deeper for a minute and remember why you got into this business in the first place. Ask yourself these questions.
Are you happy? Are you fulfilled? Are you living the life you designed for yourself or one that just sort of happened over time?
How often do you ask yourself these questions lately? Sometimes we get so busy or caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to stop for a minute and think if all the “busy” is what we even want, or even if we aren’t busy yet, why not?
I took a year off from taking a lot of design work and only worked on projects that I was really interested in when they presented themselves during the pandemic. I also had my second child during this time so I really focused on being present with my family during this time.
I took a lot of time to think about what I wanted for myself and the future of my family. I mind mapped the things I loved about my business and the things I just didn’t love anymore. I also thought about the type of client that I was working with and how she had evolved over the past 2 years. How the market has been subconsciously shaping her into the savvy consumer that she is, and how she still needs my design help – but in new and exciting ways that actually work well with my new lifestyle.
So I got to work for a year to figure out how I’d rebrand and reemerge to work with clients again and a brand I was passionate about. A brand that was so true to me that I live and breathe it every day. I also thought about how I could take a year of brainstorming and condense it into a way that I could teach into a self-paced course. A superpower of mine is that I love to teach and find out-of-the-box ways to share my knowledge to see what kinds of business ideas it inspires in other designers.
So as I was on a path of self discovery and rebranding, I found that mind mapping was the best way for my visual and hands-on learning style to get all my thoughts and ideas together in a cohesive format. So this is exactly what I did for the Business 101 course, along with short form videos, easy to read PDF’s, interactive checklists and real life examples.
I’ve seen designers take course after course, and free training after free training for years and never actually implement any of it. Or, they do something for a day and give up. But there’s a reason for this. It’s because they are overloaded with education. They never truly found the path that they wanted to take by figuring out the who, what, when, where and why first. And this changes with the different chapters in our lives every couple of years, but if we aren’t constantly asking ourselves these qualifying questions, and we keep consuming education for the sake of learning but never implementing, then what are we even doing? Because we sure aren’t growing.
Checking in with ourselves to make sure we still enjoy what we do, how we do it, and who we do it for every couple of months or each year is key to the growth of our business. It dictates the continued education that we choose to take. It pushes us in the direction of the next opportunity for growth. But, if we don’t check in with our gut first and we just keep learning, we are just spinning our wheels with nothing that ever truly resonates with us because it’s not necessarily our strength or skill.
This is what we learn about in the Business 101 course. Everything from your mindset and goals, building out your personal and business priorities, defining your ideal client, developing your services and pricing them, branding your business for your ideal client, building your website. and social media basics.
I want you to be able to ask yourself at any given time if you are fulfilled and the answer be, “Yes!”. But also have the excitement to expand and try something new. I hope to see you around the Interior Design Playbook monthly live events, and in the community! 2023 is YOUR YEAR – set yourself up for it now by starting to dig deeper and do some serious soul searching and manifesting that you’ll find in the Business 101 course, no matter where you are in your business, a new designer, established but ready to breath fresh air into your business, or a virtual assistant looking for direction – this is where it all begins.
Jenna Gaidusek is the Director of Education & Community at Mydoma, and formally the founder of eDesign U, the largest virtual school for continued eDesign business education.
As a practicing designer herself, she believes that an educator should practice what they preach. She also believes that there is plenty of room for everyone in this industry, and has dedicated herself to lifting up designers around her – empowering them to live the life that they’ve dreamt of!