Being an independent interior designer is tough in so many ways. One of the biggest ways is that it’s hard to grow your confidence because we’re questioning everything we do, say and design. There’s nobody to course correct us if we’re making a bad call. It’s really tough to be more confident. In a firm you have a mentor as well as systems for how things are done. You have a benchmark of your progress.
If you’re struggling to be more confident in your business know that you’re not alone. I struggled for a long time to overcome imposter syndrome. The larger the jobs became, the more I struggled with whether I was doing the right thing or not. Here are the 3 things that worked to create more confidence in my own business.
1/ UNDERSTAND TECHNICAL TERMINOLOGY
This is such an important one because if you’re not sure what’s being asked or requested of you it’s impossible to feel confident.
If you’re wanting to take on bigger projects but you’re feeling overwhelmed with your lack of industry specific knowledge, you can learn.
When I moved from small renos and decorating projects into large renovations and new builds I was like a ship lost at sea. School was far enough in my rearview mirror that I couldn’t remember most of what I’d learned. I realized quickly that if I was going to survive I needed to make friends with everyone I met during this project. I asked a million questions and rather than annoying the trades, I became friends with them.
Speak directly to the trades on site and ask them for clarification when you’re confused.
Write down what they teach you. You won’t look dumb or uneducated. You’ll look inquisitive and trades appreciate when you take an interest in their work.
2/ SHOP BEFORE YOU NEED TO
If you have a furniture project or renovation upcoming, go visit your local trade-only showroom or retailers. Become friends with the staff. They love designers because they bring repeat business. They’ll take all the time in the world with you.
A good example is if you haven’t spec’ed tile before go to the showroom and learn the difference between rectified and non-rectified tile. Learn what a bullnose is, what a cove tile is and how to tell the difference between porcelain and ceramic. You won’t learn everything the first time but you can at least cover the basics and begin the learning. And make sure to get my free tile schedule for managing tile orders.
Look at all the options so that when your clients ask questions you already have some of the answers.
Having a go-to contact at your local tile, plumbing, lighting and furniture stores will make your job easier but also more fun.
3/ TAKE A COURSE WHERE YOUR KNOWLEDGE IS LIMITED
Online learning is plentiful and also extremely useful. There are lots of short (or long if you want) programs specifically geared towards interior designers.
As the years go on the industry changes a lot and you need to stay up-to-date or you’ll be left behind. In recent years I’ve taken several online courses in Sketchup as well as Instagram, Productivity and I’m currently in a year-long business coaching program.
Know your weak areas and look for online learning opportunities to help improve.
Having more knowledge will give you the confidence you need to move ahead in your business.
Community is another great way to feel more confident. If you get a chance to meet with some other designers and create a network you’ll see your confidence rise quickly. It’s super important to have people to help you when you’re stuck or bounce ideas off of.
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