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Tag Archives: Co-Founder

Interior design in Australia is getting the digital start-up treatment

A good tagline can tell you a lot about a business.

There are lots of reasons people don’t hire interior designers, but chief among them is perceived price.

“There’s a common perception of professional interior design as being something that’s totally out of reach on the average income,” says Emily Carding, co-founder of a new startup, Designbx.

Emily Carding joined two friends, Kylie Pratt and Kerena Berry, to launch Designbx, a fixed-price interior design service.

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“The other big one is time, whether it’s meeting someone at your house or finding the right person and also that idea that someone is coming to your house with a critical, judgmental eye. That’s very intimidating for most homeowners.”

Carding’s idea is supported by industry professionals.

“Australia is a young culture when it comes to embracing and commissioning design in any form,” said Melbourne designer Chelsea Hing in a recent interview.

Which is why Carding joined two friends Kylie Pratt and Kerena Berry to launch Designbx, a fixed-price interior design service.

The trio work out of Fishburners, the tech co-working space in Sydney, and say the environment there has been a big help.

“It’s accelerated our business substantially, we’ve been there for about three months and there have been collaborations with Google and Dropbox who have mentoring schemes.

Despite having a tagline, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”, Designbx are very much concerned with appearances.

Self-funding this initial launch phase of the business, the three women have thrown everything into building a website they think will help demystify this “luxury industry”.

“There are similar platforms in the US, but we tried not to look too much overseas, we want to focus on the Australian market, which is very different.”

The website offers a quiz for people based on visual cues that will then translate into a “design style”, for example vintage, beach or contemporary.

“Then you select which room you’re looking to redesign, your lifestyle, functional things like dimensions and upload photos of the room and that brief goes out to our community of designers.”

Carding says they have 25 designers in the pool, a number which they hope to grow dramatically.

Then there’s a briefing process, and customers can choose a designer online and get started on work, which as we know, will be conducted at a fixed price, beginning at $299.

It’s a strategy that makes sense given how many risk-averse buyers there are in the market.

A 1986 study of fixed price versus spot price strategies in the US National Bureau of Economic Research found that the best results depended on how much risk buyers and sellers were interested in taking.

“What we are trying to do is create a new market and broaden the reach,” says Carding.

“It’s not necessarily people who would bring a designer in normally. It’s for people who would never have considered it before.”

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Should You Expand Your Business?

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

You’ve grown your business to a point where you have a steady stream of clients and projects.  Now you’re thinking what your next move should be.  You have several options.  You can add capacity by hiring staff, outsourcing, or partnering with another designer.  You can diversify by offering new services or developing a line of products. Or, you can expand your business by setting up shop in a new market, moving into another design specialty, or merging with or acquiring another firm.  Which to choose depends on your long-term goals and tolerance for risk.

Adding capacity offers the most flexibility with the least amount of risk.  It allows you to do more of what you are already doing well, and if business slows down, you can adjust by cutting back or downsizing.  If you’re looking for a new challenge, then diversifying may be the way to go, provided you have the marketing and sales skills to promote your new services or products.  Diversifying also involves more of a financial commitment and will take time away from your current business to grow the new one.  You may need to add capacity before taking steps to diversify.

Expanding a business involves the greatest amount of risk and commitment of finances and time.  However, it can be highly rewarding both professionally and financially.  Before deciding to expand, you’ll need to do some market research to determine if there is sufficient demand to support the expansion and, if so, create a marketing plan and budget.  You may also need to develop a personal and business financial plan and secure financing to cover the cost of the expansion and keep the business afloat until it becomes profitable.  If your expansion involves entering into a new area of design, you will want to consider whether to build the firm from scratch or capitalize on an existing firm by executing a partnership, merger or acquisition.

Also, consider whether you want to get further from design work since expansion means hiring and managing more people which entails additional time and often greater stress.

Growth is a natural part of any business’ evolution.  Consider carefully, though, how you want to grow.  Do you want to be spending your time managing two businesses or would you rather be designing?  If the latter, then expansion probably is not a good option for you, unless you partner or merge with someone who will run the business while you direct the design.  Challenge yourself, explore new areas, but keep in mind that your strengths are the foundation of your success, and your first venture needs to be on sound financial footing.

COMMENTS

  1. Patricia
    I find your advice to be aware of the big WHY in deciding a direction for growth expansion is honoring the core values of why I am in business in the first place. Thanks for reminding us.

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Brush Up on Business Etiquette

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

My more experienced clients sometimes confide in me how shocked they are by their junior designers’ lack of proper business etiquette. You could chalk it up to differences in age or generational values. It has occurred to me, though, that there might be more to it than that. If this is their first job in a design firm, they may not know any better. In that case, you need to explain to them the facts of business life.

Part of becoming a professional is learning how to conduct oneself in various business situations. The young designers I meet understand the importance of social etiquette. They have learned from an early age how to get along and tend to be friendly and respectful. While you need social skills to succeed in any profession, business etiquette has its own set of rules that must be learned and mastered. Even in today’s more casual business environment, a certain amount of formality and propriety is still required.

When onboarding new hires, take time to review with them your expectations regarding business etiquette. At minimum, you should discuss your firm’s policies on the following:

  • Punctuality – Arriving to work, meetings, installations, etc. on time is an essential trait of professionalism. Tardiness is not only disrespectful; it is a waste of others’ valuable time.
  • Dress – Clothing should be suitable to the workplace, not sports or leisure wear nor too revealing. For business meetings, dress should be more formal, in keeping with the client’s or business associate’s norms.
  • Communications – External emails and other forms of communication should be clear, coherent, contain sufficient detail to solicit or provide the needed response, and be free of informal slang, abbreviations, misspellings, grammatical errors, etc.
  • Technology – Maintain separate accounts for business and personal communications, data sharing, social networking, etc. Adhere to the firm’s policy on use of devices during meetings. Never put in writing something you would not want another coworker, client or business associate to see.
  • Meetings – Arrive on time and come prepared to contribute. Stay engaged and show respect when others are speaking and for differences of opinion. Participate but do not dominate the conversation.

Whether an inexperienced designer or a frazzled professional, it pays to be mindful of proper business etiquette. Like all good manners, it is most noticed when it’s not followed.

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