Your Interior Design business has gone fully virtual and not by your own choice. As a traditional high-touch industry, a fully, virtual business has many scrambling for answers on project management best practices. During Virtual Market, two industry-leading experts walk us through tips to move your business to the web and how to manage your team and projects.

If you’ve found yourself in a position where your traditionally high-touch business has moved to the web, you might be stuck trying to figure out how to translate that into the digital space. In the #VirtualMarket session, Pivoting To A Fully-Online Design Business, Iquo Essien is helping companies break it down to the basics. 

“You already know design, you are just adapting your business to the web.”

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Essien is a business consultant that specializes in multimedia storytelling, marketing, brand development, and creative strategy. Long story short, she can help you tell your story, set up a digital business plan, and start working. She founded Crowdfund Your Dream to share her vast, diverse digital knowledge.

She says the Interior Design industry has gradually undergone a digital transformation – turning physical mood boards to digital boards with products like vishion, she says this global stay-at-home moment has really pushed businesses and people forward. If you’re ready to take that step, here are some ways that you can start building your online design business:

4 Key Steps To Launching a Virtual Business

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  1. Virtual Business Setup

    1. Choose a name and a legal structure
    2. Register your business
    3. Purchase a website domain and hosting services
    4. Choose website platform
    5. Pick a payment platform
    6. Claim social media handles
      • personal vs. business profile
    7. Choose email marketing services
      • For newsletters and communication
  2. Design Business Strategy 

    1. Identify your ideal client
      • Identify their pain points and solutions
    2. Research your competitors
      • Best practices for others leading in your space
    3. Establish your niche
      • ie: e-design, product sourcing, home staging, rental styling, etc.
    4. Create your service packages
    5. Set your pricing
      • hourly rates, flat project fee, retail, etc.
  3. Marketing 101

    1. Design your website
      • logo, high-quality graphics, headshot, copywriting about you and your services
    2. Create Specialized Packages
    3. Establish a referral system
    4. Create a press kit
    5. Newsletter
      • don’t oversend
    6. Social Media
      • Start with 9 squares on Instagram that tells about your business, who you are, your products and your pricing
    7. Build a marketing funnel
      • generate leads: Pinterest, paid ads, webinars, virtual events, guest posts, etc.
  4. Operations – Start Small and Scale

    1. Purchase Design Tools and Software
      • Vishion, Canva, Dropbox
    2. Setup Web and Marketing Analytics
      • SEO, Google Analytics, etc.
    3. Schedule Consultation Calls
    4. Setup Virtual Meetings
      • Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts
    5. Draft your contract and/or service agreement
    6. Track Revenue Expenses, Billing, Invoicing
      • Quickbooks, PayPal
    7. Refine your client workflow
    8. Grow your business

Lead With Your Business’ Story

She says to remember that your online presence is your digital water cooler. When explaining your product, always lead with your story. If you don’t consider yourself a writer, let your phone do the talking.  Pull out your device and talk to it, allowing it to transcribe your thoughts.

“We are in an identity economy where people want to know about you and what drives you. Lead with why you are the best person to solve this issue for them”

Using those words for your website copy, Instagram stories, and advertisements, creates a cohesive story for your site and your brand that will connect you with your new, digital audience.

Managing Virtual Projects and Teams

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Overwhelmed? Having trouble “turning off” your work computer and separating it from your personal life? Jen Obermeier is here to help. As a professional organizer and founder of Pro Organizer Studio, Obermeier helps clients take their “mess” and clean it up. While she typically works to clean and organize tangible items, her methods can be used for company structure. She says she teaches the most organized people in the world how to organize their business.

In her Vishion #VirtualMarket session, Virtual Project Management Tips for Designers, she gave valuable insight on how to serve your clients and employees with the same level of service they expect but in an elevated, virtual setting.

 “It’s not about doing more ZOOM meetings. A lot of wasted time is happening on zoom meetings like it does in the office. Recognizing the real problems and committing to the solution is how you will grow.”

She emphasizes that we must overrespond, not overreact. What exactly does that mean? Obermeier says identifying the warning signs that lead to overreacting can help you come up with a solution to properly overrrespond.

Warning Signs of Overreaction:

  • Texts (conversing wherever and whenever)
  • Emails are used for virtual project management
  • Phone calls that not everyone is looped in on
  • Waking up at night panicking with questions
  • Constant zoom meetings
  • Virtual tools that not everyone knows how to use or don’t communicate with each other

She says most people won’t fix these problems because it takes time, they are big decisions and winging it seems more efficient because they think the pandemic is temporary. The FIX to these items is an overresponse. Stop the everything is fine

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Overresponse

  • Slow down, stop the “everything is fine”
  • Document an entire client project for YOUR firm, from end to end
  • Identify what gaps there are for collaborating as a virtual team
  • evaluate tools: current vs. other options
  • Choose the tool that will address the greatest number of needs
  • Use their help resources to fully migrate and integrate and train your team on how to use this central location for everything

Obermeier’s tips should help you and your business set the standard to identify what should be a zoom meeting or email and what shouldn’t be. A quick share of information can be done more efficiently with a project management tool like Asana. If you commit to this, you will save time and resources, immediately. You will have confidence that the expectations you set during this time can be met. In the long term, you will rely less on “drop off meetings”, creating better customer service and becoming a company that evolves in response to challenges like the coronavirus.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE DOCUMENTS USED IN HER PRESENTATION

Vishion Virtual Market

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