So you're a talented interior designer. Your friends look to you for decorating advice whenever they move. A picture of your living room could appear in the dictionary under "good Feng Shui." You can take an empty coffee can, a three-legged table and some hardcover books from 1936 and create an arrangement that doesn't just have a tenuously logical connection but tells the greater story of the room it's in. You probably already know this, but you can make money as an interior designer, perhaps a good living.
Get your paperwork in order.
Get your paperwork in order. The Houston Chronicle notes that this may include selecting business and sales tax licenses as well as choosing a business structure. Options for the latter include: sole proprietorship, limited liability corporation (LLC, for short) and Subchapter S corporation.
Determine what schooling you need.
Determine what schooling you need. Some people in this field will be strictly self-taught. Plenty of other options are available. Some art schools offer interior design as an area of study. Entire schools devoted to interior design also exist. And for those not necessarily looking for a degree, the occasional seminar or lecture can work wonders.
Figure out your style.
Figure out your style and what market segment you'd like to focus on. Do you want to residential work primarily? Commercial? A mix of both? Remember that this is your business so do what makes you happy!
Settle on a rate of pay to charge clients.
Settle on a rate of pay to charge clients. Freshome Design & Architecture suggests an introductory rate of $75 per billable hour, noting, "If a plumber can charge this rate, then you ought to as well!" There may be temptation to charge miniscule fees in the beginning to build business. Avoid this temptation. Cheap fees smack of desperation and unprofessionalism. They can also attract problem clients. Decide on a fair rate to charge for your services. When it comes to finances, it's important that you know how much your expenses and earnings. A great financial plan will help your business succeed (Source: Coupar Consulting Financials).
Create a kit of items to bring to meetings with clients.
Create a kit of items to bring to meetings with clients. Many designers use storyboards to project what a room will look like. Many also offer their clients takeaways like fabric and linen samples.
Establish a presence online.
Establish a presence online. This should include launching a website and Twitter account, both to attract clients and connect with other members of the design industry. Be a source of knowledge in the interior design world, even if you're just starting out. Don't be afraid to make your voice heard. Creating a marketing plan for your interior design business is crucial to it's success (Source: http://www.couparconsulting.com/pr_marketing.html).
Consider getting a physical location as well.
Consider getting a physical location as well. Having a showroom will give you a place to bring clients for meetings along with an area to showcase your designs, fabric samples and other items of home decor.
Invest in some group memberships.
Invest in some group memberships. Two good options are the American Society of Interior Designers and your local Chamber of Commerce. The Houston Chronicle notes that the "ASID offers marketing and business development tools, as well as professional education opportunities" while the chamber can provide valuable information on upcoming home and garden shows, a potential wellspring of business.
Be patient. Doing everything listed here will not make you an interior design powerhouse overnight, but it will hopefully have you on your way.