Creativity requires flexibility, thinking outside the box, thinking in a non linear fashion. Starting your own business requires the opposite: focus, organization, and logic. As an interior designer, I need both sets of skills, even though they are sometimes diametrically opposed.
A lot of the strategies that I use to manage my interior design business apply to any entrepreneur.
Create a schedule and stick to it.
As a creative person, my mind jumps from one idea to the next. To tame this impulse, I suggest creating a schedule with firm deadlines. Once I have my schedule, I tell my clients what to expect and set a date and time for the next meeting. Although a deadline is a useful internal time management tool, letting the client know when I will follow up makes me accountable to that time frame. When I’m working on a project and my mind travels elsewhere or when I have a creative idea, I jot down the thought in a notebook for later. The deadline helps me stay on track with the present project, and the notebook prevents me from missing out on good ideas.
Follow your intuition and present your solution.
Having education and experience in the design industry makes me intuitively capable of finding good solutions. However, there may be more than one way to design a solution that works best. One challenge is having the confidence to stay with a creative solution. I ask my client as many questions as possible during the first meeting to understand their likes and dislikes. I use my suppliers as ‘second opinion’ experts. Solo entrepreneurs can benefit from bouncing ideas off others, just like any other creative professional. I share my design solutions with my suppliers, who become my team of advisors.
Let go of the tasks that others do better.
Design is only one portion of the business. Once options have been decided, teams of professionals have to make it happen. Fees must be collected and deposits placed. Purchases and deliveries made and installers scheduled. To manage the many different hats I wear, I outsource the tasks that require a different type of thinking. For example, keeping track of purchases, subcontractors’ schedules, delivery schedules, and bookkeeping all require rigidity and organization that I find detracts from my most creative work. Having others work on organization frees up my brain to be creative and do what I do best.
These tips help me remain focused, organized and confident. They can help any creative person stay grounded as they run their own business.