It occurs to us that we may have erred in our first post in this series about designing your design business. In that post, we took for granted that our audience was already familiar with the idea of designing a strategic business plan that would increase their odds of success. Today, we hope to remedy that error.Regardless of niche, building a successful business requires planning, as well as implementation. Strategic business planning focuses on all areas of your business, with goals for both short- and long-term success. Without this type of planning, you will be forced into a seat-of-the-pants approach to running your business, adding stress, sapping energy and focus and, almost guaranteeing your dreams will not be realized.While it’s not our goal to offer a template for creating an actual business plan, something you might submit to your bank to acquire a business loan for example, we would like to share some ideas for strategic business planing. These are the broad strokes we have found invaluable for successful interior design and furnishing businesses, whether online or brick and mortar.Successful business owners focus on the big picture as well as the day-to-day minutia of running their business. They know the details are important, like paying bills and employees and handling paperwork but, they are also conscious of the larger issues; what the competition is doing, latest market trends, how their clients are being satisfied (or not), and more.Thinking about the Big Stuff and the Small Stuff all the time can be taxing yet, that is what a leader must do.
Designing Your Strategic Business Plan
Here are some things that can make this easier for you:
- Goal setting – for the moment and the future. Having a Big Goal for your business is great but you can’t focus on end-of-year stats while ignoring daily, weekly or monthly performance. In other words, if you hope to grow sales by 10% for the year, you will need to focus on increasing sales by a bit less than 1% per month. In other words, setting incremental goals will make achieving your larger goals much more likely.
- Vision and mission – including your dream and purpose. The vision you have for your business can be anything you dream of achieving, while your mission should be about how you plan to get there. It should also be client-focused and benefits-based; that is, how your business goals and philosophy will make a positive impact on the lives of your clients.
- Focus on relationships – with clients, suppliers, contractors, and subs. In both the short- and long-term, your greatest business asset is the relationships you build. Working with contractors and subs whom you know and trust (and who know and trust you), has value that is almost impossible to quantify. The same is true of existing clients, who are far more likely to work with you than a prospect (see this post for more on the value of current clients).
- Be realistic and practical – when setting goals. Goals are used to help a business grow and achieve its objectives. You can use them to promote teamwork and help describe what you want to accomplish. However, setting too many goals for the year (or too big a goal) can lead to problems. Too many goals can diffuse your focus and too big a goal may well be impossible to achieve. If you “keep it real” and use incremental steps to get there, you are far more likely to get where you want to be.
- Stay focused – on your vision, your mission, and your goals. When your business goals are tied to your vision and your mission, along with realistic steps to achieve them, it becomes much easier to stay focused on things that matter and ignore the rest. This reduces stress and helps you maintain the mental and emotional energy you need to run your design business effectively. That’s a big win/win for you as both an interior designer and business owner.
It’s very important to remember that your business plan should be used as you start your business (to obtain funding or direct operations, for example); while your strategic business plan is primarily used for implementing and managing the overall direction of your business.The difference is significant and critical to the long-term success of your design business.Looking for more tips on designing your design business, new home design trends, designer marketing tips, and product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.