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Becoming an Interior Design Consultant

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Many interior designers work for other firms, before becoming an interior design consultant to gain expertise and establish themselves in the field. However, there are a number of reasons why interior designers choose consultancy, but it typically comes down to freedom.

When opting to consult, an interior designer can select whichever projects he/she wants. Many smaller firms or self-employed business owners/sole-proprietorships opt to work as consultants in order to be more selective in their work and provide the best services for their clients due to their smaller pool of resources. This is especially useful when an interior designer has a niche and would like to spend time focusing on building his/her portfolio.

5 Things to Know before Becoming an Interior Design Consultant:

  1. Firmly establish yourself in the field before jumping into the consultancy pool. If you have an idea of a niche you’d like to pursue early on in your interior design training, try to gain work experience in that area, or at least, establish business contacts in the field that may be able to provide assistance in the future, when needed.
  2. Establish a marketing plan before venturing out on your own. Put some things in place first, like a website, business cards, and virtual/social networking plans, etc. If looking to develop a niche, partner up with several other interior design consultants with compatible niches to collaborate with, trade referrals, and network, so you won’t be left to generate all of your own business.
  3. Look for both larger and smaller projects that can be worked simultaneously to keep revenue flowing into the business. Large projects are great portfolio pieces, but larger clients (especially commercial ones) are typically slower to pay with Net 45+ fee schedules, than smaller clients with one remodeling project.
  4. If leaving a larger firm to start your own consultancy, don’t burn any bridges, and let them know you’re available to help with any overflow they may have while you’re getting started. This is often how many self-employed interior designers get their businesses off the ground. Tell anyone and everyone what you are doing and ask them for any work they can send your way. It’s not a commitment, as both you and your client will have to agree to project terms, but it’s a way to get potential clients in your door.
  5. Determine your reasons for wanting to consult. If you want your own business – great! But if you want to consult simply to work on specific types of projects, or for reduced work hours, etc. consider asking a current employer for what you want – they may consider providing you with your consultancy status instead of losing you, or looking for a new position.

Making the decision to become an interior design consultant takes careful consideration. Use these tips to help determine if it’s time to strike out on your own, or tweak your current interior design position to suit your needs.

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