One of the keys to building a successful interior design business is self-assessment; understanding your strengths – and your weaknesses. While you may be able to sit back and evaluate your skills and talents calmly, rationally, and logically, you would be about one in a million if you are. After all, in survey after survey, the average person considers themselves to be “above average” which, by the very definition of “average”, is statistically impossible.So, what’s the solution?Ask Your ClientsIt’s human nature to enjoy positive feedback. We all enjoy praise and tend to avoid criticism. Yet, ironically, we’re also taught that we can “learn more from our failures than our successes”. As with most things though, the truth lies somewhere in between.If you're able to evaluate the jobs you’ve done critically, comparing the how and why of a job well done to a job that you struggled to complete, more power to you. Speaking generally though, the best source of information about how well or poorly you performed on a given design project will be your client.When used properly, your business website and email list can be great sources of information and feedback. In fact, a website today is remarkably flexible, presenting you with multiple opportunities to share information with your audience while also enabling you to acquire information from them.If you're blogging regularly (and if not, why not?), you should have a Comment Section available for feedback on each post. And, you should be asking your audience to comment at the end of each post. Plus, when you do receive comments or questions, you simply must respond.
- Poll your online audience – It’s incredibly easy to set up a quick poll on your website. There are innumerable plugins and widgets available to do this, many of which are free. You should be polling your audience at least twice a year (or more) to find out what matters most to them and whether they believe you can provide it.
- Poll your client list – An email newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with past and prospective clients. Using an email service like MailChimp or AWeber makes this much easier than you might think. Beyond that, a quick poll by email to your list, with different questions for clients and prospects, can also reap great rewards.
Your goal in polling your audience and/or client list is to discover where, and if, they believe they would be willing to invest in design work. You also want to discover their impressions of you and your work; whether they believe you would be worth that investment and, if not, what you can do to change their minds.Avoid Confirmation BiasHere’s the problem with positive feedback: In psychology and cognitive science, there is a tendency of decision makers to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis and ignore or under weigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis. (ScienceDaily.com)Known as “confirmation bias”, you can also think of it as “believing your own press”.In essence, this means, anything that confirms your opinion of your talents and skills, of yourself, is far easier to believe than things which contradict what you believe to be true.Again, it feels good to have our beliefs reinforced, whether by others or by research. Yet, and we can all be guilty of this, choosing information that confirms only your beliefs is dangerous in the extreme if you plan to make a heavy investment of your time, energy, and money in an idea – or in a direction for your design business.When you're stuck in a confirmation bias mode of thinking, you’re not really looking for the reasons that your idea may not be a good one, which leads you to think those reasons simply don’t exist. This can lead to real problems for you in the testing process for your idea. Instead, you MUST try to prove your idea is right but, you MUST also try to prove your idea is wrong.If you’re not honest and diligent enough to do both, despite your faith in yourself, you’re likely to wind up with a warehouse overflowing with pink suede wallpaper. (Yeah, that particular “market trend” was a bust for some reason!)Looking for more interior design business tips, trends, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.