It is so much fun to ride the “fame” wave as an interior designer – we each love to do showhouses, be style spotters, speak at events, go on blog tours, and be asked to give expert opinions for press. But recently some of my fellow designers and I have been talking about getting caught up in that whirlwind and what it can do to your business. I’ve been guilty of that myself. It’s so much easier to say yes to things, and to convince yourself that it’s critical for you to be “out there” than it is to look at your company’s financial picture.
But, as with anything, fame comes at a price. You can have so much fun doing things to raise your profile that you suddenly realize that you’re burning the candle at both ends, and you’re not really making any money for your company.
In a way, social media has made all of this worse. Those fabulous posts from exotic trips on Instagram, the tweets about having lunch with a celebrity in our industry, and the Facebook posts about how amazing someone is – those can mislead us into thinking that we haven’t “made it” as designers unless we’re able to tout that same kind of fame.
I just want you to remember that you NEVER know what’s going on behind the curtain, and that’s why it’s so dangerous for us to compare ourselves to others and use that as a yardstick for success. Our best measure of success is the bottom line, the actual numbers of our business.
You should know your income, your overhead, and your cash flow better than you know your paint colors. You should be growing your gross and net revenues year after year and growing your salary every 3-5 years, otherwise what’s the point? You should be looking at your budget-to-actual every single week or month, and you should know exactly how much you personally cost your company (your salary, insurance, benefits), and how much your time is worth to your company.
Once you are that clear on your finances, you can really see that you shouldn’t be doing things that don’t make money for you and for your business. It makes it harder to say yes to a trip that will take you out of the office for a week when you realize how that’s going to hit the bottom line. When you compare the ROI of reaching out to new clients to the ROI of speaking at an event, you really start to see how important this is to your company and to you!
Thinking this way will not only put you on track for a healthy financial picture, but it will also keep YOU healthier because you won’t be trying to do everything that’s asked of you.
Don’t get me wrong – that doesn’t mean you say no to all of the things you’re asked to do! It’s good to get your name out there and to market yourself through speaking engagements and press quotes. And though both are important to our business goals, I want all of us to think more about increasing our incomes than we think about increasing our profiles or our popularity!
Financial freedom really does free us up to do the things we want to do – but first we have to get there. As we head into the last few months of 2015, this is something I’ll be re-examining as I define my budget for 2016. Let me know what you think about this idea in the comments section below! I want us all to make more money in 2016!