The Power Of Mindfulness in Your Business
So you’re a brilliant designer, but have you considered the power of mindfulness in your interior design business?
Polly Williams, founder of multi-award winning business-development consultancy Camberyard, is dedicated to offering mentoring and bespoke interior design business advice to creative professionals across the industry. Taking a holistic, step-by-step approach, she encourages her clients to consider a 360° framework that takes into account lifestyle as well as business goals to set themselves up for long-term success.
Mentoring, mindfulness and meditation … could getting these practices in balance be the key to a successful design business? It is a question I have been considering since founding Camberyard almost three years ago: trying to understand the correlation between being in the moment and connecting with clients (potential or existing) and the power of mindfulness in forward planning. As The Designers’ Advisor, I am in the uniquely privileged position of seeing how designers work and interact with clients and run their businesses. The areas that continue to need my mentoring are: finding clients, charging correctly and managing the client / designer process.
What I have discovered through watching my clients’ business processes is, largely, a blend of psychology and practicalities. First, the practicalities: setting up your business foundation – strategic plan, technology, finances, etc. Then, psychology: how to get a client to buy in to your brand, to desire your services and to actually contact you. Psychology again: how you engage with potential clients so they sign up for your services. Then again, practicalities: how you deliver the service you have proposed on time, on budget. And finally, perhaps most overlooked, the psychology of a happy client and a happy designer!
A successful process to me is simple: slow down to do more. Stop, breathe, contemplate. How do you find your clients? More precisely, how will you find likeminded clients who will value your services and thus enable you to charge for these services, so that you actually – deep breath – yes, I am going to stay it: charge for the time you spend on the project!
The process may be skewed from the start. How many of you whilst studying are told to take 20 hours on a project and happily sit down and spend 30 hours on the process because you want to be at the height of creativity and because there is always that little bit extra to research, to tweak, to perfect? Yes, I am talking to you – the perfectionist that always gives that little bit more. In theory that is fine, but in practice, if you are launching or growing a design studio, it can be fatal. Time slippage is one of the biggest reasons interior designers feel undervalued and underpaid.
So I ask my designers to be realistic and to get honest. If you propose 10 hours then make it 10 hours and – here again I am going to say it – keep a timesheet! Our perception of reality can be skewed and it is essential for a healthy, commercially-viable business to have visibility of time spent. Remember: busy does not always equal efficient.
This brings me to the next subject. Time management. Sit down on a Thursday for a quiet moment of meditation, a top-up of mindfulness. Consider what you did well this week that you can take in to next week. What did you not do so well? How is the project making you feel? How is the client making you feel? This pause for awareness allows you to stop and plan for the following week based on your Fractions of Actions (more on that later), which includes paid work, business development, but also personal development and … LIFE!
Be mindful of your design business and take the time to nurture it. Look at it holistically. Are you tending all areas: website, networking, social media, office structure, paperwork, USP? Remember that a little action in all areas adds up to the sum of a whole. At Camberyard we work in Fractions of Actions, a bespoke action plan that requires you to take an overall view of your business growth, but also balance it with the demands of family and maybe even other paid work. It forces you to pause and think carefully before taking on smaller projects if your time does not allow for it or, on the other end of the scale, to consider why you’re only taking on entire house projects because they fit your timeline and financial requirements.
This brings me to psychology, and why it is so important to slow down the pitching process to really understand your client. It allows you to spot the couple who ‘are so decisive and want each piece of furniture to be bespoke’ but turn out to spend three months choosing two off-the-shelf bookcases with no scope for you to charge the fees you had proposed. So, slow the process down. Find out what you don’t know about the client and their psychology, because it is those things that will reveal the important facts about the client. You can only get that knowledge from investing in the process at the beginning, by putting time into that first meeting, which is really all about chemistry and defining if they want to work with you. And, perhaps more importantly, if you want to work with them!
Next, how to charge? It is always the biggest question, but really the easiest question, because figures do not lie. Work out the time the project will take versus the resources needed to deliver and charge accordingly. Yes, there will always be the odd project you might decide to take on because of the doors it will open, but the question often reverts to: Is this a lifestyle business or is this a financially viable business? Answering that question honestly gives clarity to your pitching and fee proposals.
Clarity and mentoring are, in my experience, the key to a design company’s growth. You can either go it alone or become part of a collective. The Camberyard Collective is a group of like-minded designers and brands who come together to collaborate, barter services, develop their businesses and support each other. It also, on a wider level, supports the greater creative design community.
To conclude, I will ask you once again to stop, breathe and contemplate what kind of designer you want to be and how will you achieve this. Everyone is unique – one size does not fit all. As The Designers’ Advisor, I work with my clients to help them develop their design studio or brand, tailoring the plan to fit their expectations, aspirations and motivations – whatever they may be. If you need some advice or support, please do get in touch – I would love to hear from you and help you take that next step!
07889 748 908