i+D - May/June 2019 - 24

Business
of Design
Contracts

SUCCESS
BY DESIGN
BY ROBERT NIEMINEN

Thriving in interior design requires more than talent;
it demands business acumen
THERE'S A REALITY INTERIOR DESIGNERS NEED TO FACE IF THEY WANT TO
OPERATE A PROFITABLE BUSINESS: CREATIVE TALENT SIMPLY ISN'T ENOUGH
TO SUCCEED IN THIS INDUSTRY. CREATIVITY MUST BE COUPLED WITH A
SOLID BUSINESS PLAN AND A STEADFAST COMMITMENT TO STICK TO THAT
PLAN AT EVERY TURN AND WITH EVERY NEW CLIENT. THE CULMINATION OF
SUCH AN APPROACH CAN LEAD DESIGN PROFESSIONALS DOWN A PATH THAT
IS BOTH CREATIVELY SATISFYING AND FINANCIALLY REWARDING AS WELL.

LuAnn Nigara,
Window Works

While 80 percent of small businesses will
survive the first year, the number drops
to nearly 50 percent by the five-year mark,
and down to merely one in three in just
10 years, according to the U.S. Small Business
Administration. The reasons creative firms
fail are many, but perhaps the most obvious
is the fact that they were never designed
to succeed in the first place. No one
understands this better than LuAnn Nigara,
co-owner of Window Works, author, and
host of the top-rated interior design podcast,
A Well-Designed Business. Having
successfully managed her window treatment
and awning retail business with her husband
and their cousin, Nigara decided several
years ago to launch a podcast to help
design professionals operate profitable
and productive businesses.
Over the course of more than 30 years,
she has seen firsthand how many highly
talented designers have failed to turn a
profit while others who enjoy decorating as
a hobby have flourished in business, often
turning six-figure salaries. "Sadly, it was
often clear that the ones who were successful
had less to do with their talent as an interior
designer and more to do with their expertise
as business owners," she observes. The
reason so many design practices struggle
is "because they're not well designed-and
this harsh truth drives my passion to help
them be better business owners," she says.

Nigara's podcast,
A Well-Designed Business,
helps interior designers
improve their businesses
with real, quantifiable
results-thanks to useful
topics and practical insight.

24

i+D - May/June 2019

Running a Profitable Business
Among the first and costliest mistakes
many designers make when starting a new
venture is not recognizing there is a business
that needs to be run first and foremost and
"being an amazing designer is secondary,"
according to Nigara.
Nigara notes that practitioners must take
the next step and pair their creative talent
with running a smart business. The logic
isn't hard to follow: "If you cannot complete
a project on time, on budget, if you cannot
communicate your value to your client, if
you cannot earn referral business, none of
us get to know and appreciate the amazing
talents you have as a designer, and that's
the saddest part of all of this."
Because at the end of the day, it's what
you take home that matters, according
to Alan M. Siegel, a partner at Levy Sonet
& Siegel, LLP, and an author as well.
With 40-plus years of legal experience
representing the interests of interior
designers, architects, product designers,
and resources within the design industry,
Siegel says he often hears from designers
who disclose that their take home salaries
were not reflective of their high gross
revenues and wonder why. "Well, it's for a
number of reasons, but in order to determine
the answer to that, you need to have a full
appreciation of whether the fee that you're
charging is adequately compensating your
firm and is adequate such that you walk
away with some money at the end of the
project, rather than saying at the end of the
job, 'I spent too much time on the project,
my staff time was extraordinary, and my
overhead was extraordinary,'" he explains.



i+D - May/June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i+D - May/June 2019

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i+D - May/June 2019 - Cover2
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i+D - May/June 2019 - Cover3
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