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March 26, 2018

Wish I’d Known These Three Things Before Starting My Design Business

Before I started my business, I knew that I wanted to be a creative. But, I had no idea what that meant exactly. How can I encompass all the things that I’m capable of, in one job? That was my challenge. I love to write but wasn’t ready to monetize that skill for a career. I design, model, and bake and I am a tv personality. I have a degree in theatre, a masters in creative writing and am also a wife, mom and yoga junkie (I say junkie because I have yet to be consistent in my yoga workout routine). So, how can I get my artistry out to the world and express my talents in one place?

I was to the point where I would do nothing since I can’t do the things I want, in the way that I want them to be done. Perfectionist much? Yes. I admit it. But, I had to be told that design could be a career for me where I would utilize everything I have in one career. I did my due diligence before getting into the field and interned in set design and also interned for an interior designer. I had a direction to pursue but still didn’t know exactly how. Here are the three most important things I’ve learned over the years that I wish I knew before I started.

  • Know the brand you want to convey
  • Think about your ideal client first and only for at least a year
  • Don’t start a company with zero capital

If I had known from the beginning the style and type of company I wanted to be known as, I would’ve had a direction and a jumpstart on where I could visually see myself going. I just kind of started and jumped out there. I eventually got to the place where I found out what brand I wanted to be and who I wanted to eventually become. It took about a year but once I saw my company being in a specific place, I was able to direct my marketing moves, internal decisions and branding choices, toward the vision I had in my head.

When starting a business, you’ve got to know who you are starting a business for. You are not starting a business for yourself. You have to know what you want to sell and who exactly wants to buy what you have to offer. This is very difficult to discover and you would easily jump to the thought of wanting to be of service to everyone. But, the reality is you cannot and will not serve and be of service to everyone. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get your message out there to everyone and not turning down money, but what your brand says about you means a lot to potential clients. Being open to everyone decreases your value and doesn’t allow you to be an expert in one area. People look for experts in their fields because well, they’re the best. So, what are you the best at? CHAI specializes in comfortable luxury and my clients know that from the first moment they walk in the door. What do you have the ability to do that no one else does better? Who will buy this service or product and when and why do they need it? There are so many articles to identifying your ideal client but the fact remains that I wish I’d known that before I started marketing to the masses and not to my besties who love what I do and want to buy what I have to offer.

Lastly, it is extremely difficult to start anything with zero dollars. Is it impossible? Absolutely not. But, you will get much further if you have some money set aside for just this company that nothing else can interfere with. I was lucky enough to go through some trials and tribulations and have the capital to cover my behind while I learned expensive design lessons but if I didn’t have money in the reserves, I would’ve been out of business and so discouraged to start anything else. Instead, I learned from the mistakes, bought things more cautiously, learned what systems work best, refined my process and used the money I set aside to focus on branding, marketing and a design space. That has helped me start two other companies with my husband and we still have more in our minds to start. We are serial entrepreneurs but I wouldn’t have been able to start three companies if I hadn’t figured out these key things from my first one.

I hope this helps you identify a few things you need to know before you jump off the deep end with all of the entrepreneurs out there. If you have specific questions, join the CHAI Facebook Group, comment below or email us and we’ll get right to you! Best of luck!

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