ASID GEORGIA CHAPTER MAGAZINE ISSUE NUMBER I SPRING 2020
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS GEORGIA - 1 -
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF
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E D UCAT I O NA L NE WS JA N W YNN , AS I D, L EED A P, I D +C, N CI D Q
04 P R E SI DE NT ’ S ME SSAGE : JOYC E FOWNE S
04 JOYCE WEST FORMER AS I D PRES I DEN T
06 SEO: SE A RCH EN G I NE OPTI MI Z ATI ON FOR I N TERI OR DES I G NER S
DE SI GNI NG 2 0 2 0 ST R AT E GY
14 LEGA L DOS A ND DON’TS
18 F I NA NC I A L FAQ s FO R I N T E R I O R DE SI GNE R S
23 AS I D DES I G NER Q&A
24 26 JA NI E HI R SC H: J H I R SC H I N T E R I O R S
S H AWN A LS HU T: STUDI O A 2 A RCH I TECTURE I N TERI OR S
A DV E R T I S E R S : 10
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Atlanta Design Group
Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles
16-17 California Closets
MicroSeal of Atlanta
The Container Store
European Kitchen & Bathworks
S&S Rug Cleaners
Traditions in Tile and Stone
Greater Southern Home Recreation
Scott Antiques Market
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INDesign Magazine is published quarterly for the ASID Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers by DSA Publishing & Design, Inc. Editorial content and the INDesign magazine are controlled and owned by the Georgia Chapter ASID. Reproduction of this publication in whole, in part, or in any form is strictly prohibited without the written permission of the Georgia Chapter of ASID.
28 L AU RI E LEHRI CH: CA RDE A H OME KI TCHEN & BATH DES I G N
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS GEORGIA
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GREETINGS FROM ASID PRESIDENT 2020
MARCH 17, 2020 Interesting perspective for you all. I wrote this letter on March 2nd, before any of us knew what would ensue in the coming weeks. Here we are a mere 15 days later and our country’s whole perspective has changed.The wonderful aspect of our business is our resilience and our supporting community. I hope that our current trend toward isolation and social distancing actually gives us time to reflect and consider new ways of working. With that, being brave and starting a firm or changing your firms focus/markets is very applicable now. Consider where we might be in the next 30-60 days and what you might do to stabilize, grow or start something new!
MARCH 2, 2020 I hope everyone’s year is off to an amazing start! This will be a year of continued economic growth for Georgia benefiting our community at large. From restaurants, hospitality, office, industrial and retail to a huge housing boom, we see no boundaries to our
continued prosperity and opportunity in the design community. So what better time to think about a new “Start Up”! What does it really take to be a successful start up? This issue of InDesign is focused on the “Start Up”, whether kicking off 2020 with renewed aspirations and goals or a new company, the thinking, inspiration and bravery that it takes to start something new is different for each individual. So what will you need to prosper? This issue of InDesign explores this and varying aspects on how to build a successful practice. We hope that this will help guide you and bring thought leadership from ASID to your organization. We will keep everyone apprised of event updates and look forward to seeing everyone after we are all safe and healthy again. Please know that ASID is here for you if you or someone you know is in need. Our thoughts to you and your family and friends. Stay safe, stay healthy! All my best to you all, Joyce Fownes, ASID GA Chapter President
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS GEORGIA
BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT Joyce Fownes, Allied ASID, LEED AP BD+C firstname.lastname@example.org PRESIDENT-ELECT Tony Purvis, ASID, LEED G.A email@example.com FINANCIAL DIRECTOR Laura W. Jenkins, ASID firstname.lastname@example.org COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR Tasha Norland, Industry Partner email@example.com DIRECTOR AT-LARGE CHAIR Calais McGuinness, Industry Partner firstname.lastname@example.org EMERGING PROFESSIONAL AFFAIRS CHAIR Rebecca Freitag, Allied ASID email@example.com
MEMBER NEWS J O Y C E W E S T, A S I D C H A P T E R P R E S I D E N T 1 9 9 3 - 1 9 9 4
Joyce Bassett West, who served as President of the ASID Georgia Chapter in 1993-1994, lost her battle with cancer Saturday, January 1, 2020. Joyce was a talented interior designer and a dedicated member of ASID. Joyce began her interior design career in the early
eighties at Rich’s in the Commercial Design Division, later becoming a manufacturer’s representative in Atlanta. After retiring a few years ago, Joyce moved back to her home place in Alabama. She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew and worked with her.
GWINNETT TECHNICAL COLLEGE NAMES JAN WYNN ADJUNCT OF THE YEAR
Jan Wynn, ASID, LEED AP ID+C, NCIDQ, a Registered Interior Designer and Instructor of Interior Design, was named Adjunct of the Year by Gwinnett Technical College. With over 30 years of interior design experience, Jan has successfully completed many interior design projects all over the country and is dedicated to teaching her students to the best of her ability. “I am honored to be selected as Adjunct of the Year, it means so much to be recognized for my work with the students in the Interior Design Program. I feel so
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blessed to have the opportunity to teach such talented and hardworking students at Gwinnett Tech. I express my love of interior design and related creative careers and share my passion and enthusiasm with the students in order to inspire them to be the best designers they can be. I challenge them to support each other, work together as well as independently, and to grow to their full potential. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to teach such talented and hardworking students at Gwinnett Tech.” stated Jan.
EMERGING PROFESSIONAL AFFAIRS CO-CHAIR Jocelyn Turcotte, Allied ASID firstname.lastname@example.org MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR Nujhat Jahid-Alam, Allied ASID email@example.com PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Amy Hunley, Industry Partner firstname.lastname@example.org STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE BOARD Courtney Pratt, Student ASID email@example.com STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE BOARD Jason Gray, Student ASID firstname.lastname@example.org STUDENT AFFAIRS CHAIR Traci Moore, Allied ASID email@example.com CHAPTER ADMINISTRATOR Keigh Hamilton firstname.lastname@example.org
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47125_MEDIA_ASID Local Spring Chapter Membership Books Ins. Date: 5/6/2020
When it’s explained in the simplest possible terms SEO is complex and confusing. As a business owner, you may not really understand the ins and outs of SEO, but you certainly feel its effects when you lose business to your competition because they show up in your prospects’ Google searches and you don’t. But don’t worry - you don’t have to be an SEO expert to help get your business in front of your prospects online. To help you take the first step toward understanding and using SEO, I’ve pinpointed a few of the more commonly held ideas and fact-checked them for accuracy in light of what they mean to you and your business. By separating fact from fiction, you can avoid wasting time and/or money on SEO efforts that ultimately won’t help you grow your bottom line. By Deb Mitchell - reprinted with permission from ASID Texas Chapter Originally published Issue IV 2018 | 2019
Search Engine Optimization for Interior Designers: Separating fact from fiction
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SEO is the only form of marketing that really works these days fact While that may be true for online businesses whose sales of products and services happen exclusively online, you’re actually a local service provider. You serve your clientele mostly in person within your local area (excepting e-design services and selling products in an online shop). Take it as good news that a lot of the deeper complexities and usages of SEO are meant to apply to businesses competing for sales online in a sea of competition from all over the world. For those businesses it’s highly likely the only way prospects will ever even know they exist is if they’re effective with SEO. You, on the other hand, have the advantage of being a needle in a little pile of hay - not a global haystack. When someone searches online for, say, an interior designer in Portland, Oregon, Google only needs to sift through a fairly small handful of potentially relevant search results. Compare that to a search for something like “online business coach” and it’s easy to see how your SEO needs are relatively small and simple. What that means is that SEO is important for you, but it should only be one slice of your marketing pie. Ranking higher in online searches may play a role in getting you in front of the right clients, but so does doing great work that gets you awesome client reviews, putting your project images out on social media, and going where your prospects are (both online and off ) and building genuine relationships with them. If you’re already doing all of that but you’re still not getting all the clients you want and need, giving your SEO more attention could make a difference. But conversely, I can promise you that focusing all of your resources on SEO at the expense of the quality of your work or in lieu of connecting personally with prospects in your area will put your business on shaky ground in the long run.
Keywords are the key to effective SEO fact The whole concept of SEO is based on the notion that people use certain words and phrases to search online for specific information. Keywords are the force behind Google’s algorithm, a complex decision tree - IF a searcher enters a certain keyword or phrase THEN Google quickly returns a set of results it deems relevant to those search terms. From another angle, IF you use the keywords your prospects are searching for THEN you’ll land in their results (ideally, at or near the top).
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Businesses’ increasing need to earn high search rankings has prompted the development of apps and software that help them determine the keywords their prospects are using. I actually find that the two most effective tools for finding the right keywords to use in my clients’ marketing are about as non-tech as you can get to empathy and imagination. Knowing your prospects well and having a deep understanding of how they think is crucial for anticipating the search terms they’ll use when looking for interior design help. For example, you may want to be known for delivering a highly professional level of service to your clients because you know they value solid processes and great communication. But if you truly understand your prospects, you’ll realize that when they sit down to look online for an interior designer to help them renovate their kitchen, their minds won’t be on an “interior designer who’s a great communicator” - which also means that’s not what they’ll be typing into Google’s search bar. What will be on their minds and in their search bars, however, is an inte- rior designer in their area who’s well qualified and experienced in kitchen renovations. Knowing that, you can then use your imagination to come up with a handful of search terms they’re likely to use, such as “interior designer Your City kitchen design renovation,” “professional kitchen design Your City,” and even “interior design help with kitchen cabinets, lighting, and flooring in Your City.” It’s not that your commitment to delivering the help they’re looking for with professional service and great communication skills isn’t relevant to them. It’s just that they’re looking for all of that when they talk with you on the phone and in person, as well as when they review what your processes look like - not when they’re searching online to figure out who to call in the first place
SEO is a one-time project that involves getting the right keywords on your website fiction While determining a set of relevant keywords for your business and putting them on your website is part of the picture, no SEO strategy is “set it and forget it” something placed deep in the recesses of your site that works automatically and indefinitely to get you better Google rankings. In fact, the top experts agree that SEO should be approached by any busi- ness as an ongoing activity. How your website is or isn’t being found by your prospects is ever changing. Monitoring that and changing your SEO efforts accordingly on a regular basis is just part of the deal.
So what should that kind of maintenance look like in a basic, DIY-able form? • Do some keyword research to find what terminology your prospects use to search online for interior designers. Here’s a great article on how to get started with keyword research: How to do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide by Rachel Leist • Local SEO is important to get you in front of your prospects, so opt for keywords like “Your City, your state interior designer” over general terms like “polished, timeless interior design.”
• Because SEO is a process that ebbs and flows, it’s ideal to look at it over the course of a 3-month period of time so you can get a complete picture of what’s happening overall. Every 3 months or so, review your target keywords and how you’re ranking for them. • To do that, search each of the keywords you’re using in an incognito browser window to see where you rank in the search results (if you don’t go incognito, your computer might remember that you look at your own site often and react by pulling it to the top of your keyword search to personalize the results to you, as opposed to showing how you actually rank when others search that keyword) • If you’re ranking well for certain keywords, capitalize on them by increasing their use in your web copy, blog posts, design project descriptions, etc. • If you’re not ranking well for others, increase their use as well, or if you think they’re simply not good target keywords for you, retire them and replace them with new ones.
By approaching your SEO strategy and all of your marketing efforts as vital parts of learning how to better serve your clients, your business can’t help but grow - no matter how Google ranks you!
• When creating new content, be sure to optimize it by placing your keywords whenever possible in blog post headlines, subheadings, copy, image alt tags, and meta descriptions.
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Designing your 2020
Strategy By Julie Malloy
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Julia Molloy is a leading operations specialist for the interior design industry. She has over 2 decades of operations experience, 12 of them in the design field and has a wealth of knowledge from the interior design, graphic design, operations and technology sectors.
Before you can prioritize and set goals, you need an overarching strategy session! I recommend having 2 a year, one at the beginning of January and one during the 3rd quarter if possible. There are a few prerequisites and components involved with strategy sessions. YOU NEED YOUR COMPANY’S KEY CHARACTERISTICS CLEARLY DEFINED AND UPDATED This is a list of a dozen or so adjectives or short phases that describe your firm’s values. The bottom line is, you need guiding principles and a mission statement to help you navigate through all the ideas and options that will come up in your strategy meeting. You will also want to put some ideas down on paper and develop an outline for a meeting agenda. HAVE AN AGENDA Like any meeting, put together an agenda of items you’d like to discuss and resolve during the meeting. Often the first one will be to review all products and services as well as areas of concern or need for refinement. Pull them together and brainstorm about what is possible and what fits with your firm’s mission and values. Don’t focus too much on logistics, as you’ll have a separate meeting for that. This is all about ideation, vision and overarching direction for your company’s growth and development as well as innovative ideas for solving issues you’ve been challenged by. PUT TOGETHER AN ADVISORY BOARD Who are the few people that you absolutely trust and respect for their savvy, expertise in their field, sage experience and vision? Find them and invite them to be an adviser for your firm. You just need 1 to start. They can be a senior member of your firm if you’re fortunate. All that is required on their part is to join your 2 strategy sessions each year. It is helpful if most of them are in completely different fields and bring to the table strengths that you do not possess. | co n t i n ued o n page 15
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Do contractually reserve the right to suspend performance of services and to withhold delivery of merchandise if your client fails to make timely payments. Do not select the wrong client to work for. I f you intend to use a form contract, use the correct one, and be sure to modify it according to the project requirements. Do advise your advisors (your attorneys, accountants and insurance brokers) as to what you actually do for a living. They will then be in a much better position to advise you. Do understand the legal importance of contract “boilerplate” provisions. Do use the contract as an opportunity to educate your client. Remember, a surprised client is not a happy client. Do understand your vendor’s terms of sale. They are not in your best interests!
Do not put all your “contractor eggs” in one basket. Do not violate the home improvement contractor laws. The consequences are usually quite severe. Do be familiar with local laws applicable to your services. Do not forget the three biggest clients. Do not make “innocuous” representations; particularly when they are not “innocuous.”
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Do understand the exclusions of your professional errors and omissions insurance policy.
Do take a ﬂexible approach to your fees and compensation.
Do limit your personal exposure by operating your design business in a legal entity that provides you with the beneﬁt of limited liability.
Do keep historical time records. They help you determine how best to charge fees on your next project.
Do not do favors for clients at your own peril.
Do have the last letter in the ﬁle. You will make your attorney happy. Do understand your insurance coverage; specifically, what is and what is not covered.
Do practice good risk management techniques. Do not ignore your client’s calls. The client you don’t want to call back is the ﬁrst client you should call back. Do communicate often with your client, even if nothing is happening. Do understand the importance of the pre-contract phase. How can you prepare a contract when you don’t understand your new project? Do not relinquish intellectual ownership rights in your designs to your clients. Do not practice “interior architecture” or hold yourself out as being an “interior architect.
Do understand your contract termination rights.
Do remember, however, that some types of business liability can become personal obligations (e.g. sales tax), even though your business entity enjoys limited liability. Do reserve the right to photograph your client’s project and to use the photographs (for business purposes). Do try to contractually shift responsibilities over to third parties where they properly belong. Do not ignore the statutory licensing requirements governing interior designers in the states where your client’s project is located. Do not be “hard of hearing” during contract negotiations.
Do not underestimate your client’s anger or frustration. Do recognize when you have a problem (in other words— do not stick your head in the sand!). Deal with the problem on a timely basis. Problems do not go away over time—they only get worse. - Reprinted with permission from ASID Texas Chapter, originally published Issue I, 2018
Designing your 2020 Strategy | c on t i n u e d f ro m p a g e 1 3
HOLD THE MEETING OUT OF YOUR OFFICE, IN AN INSPIRING ENVIRONMENT Studies have shown that you cannot think ‘outside of the box’ very effectively when you are physically sitting ‘inside your box’. So have the meeting out of your normal environment. Preferably somewhere uplifting, non-distracting and open feeling. High ceilings are important and expansive views are ideal. Have lunch brought in and run from morning through the end of the day.
are logistically oriented and get a firm plan of action on the books. Include tasks, timing and the persons accountable so that it really does get done. Add all tasks to your Master Task List and if needed, hold a few follow up meetings at set intervals to discuss progress on assigned projects.
FOLLOW IT UP WITH A PLAN OF ACTION MEETING TO DISCUSS IMPLEMENTATION AND TIMING
Your objective is to come up with an overarching approach and direction for your interior design business. You’ll want to emerge with a crystal clear understanding of what your firm does and, more importantly, what it does NOT do and who it does it for. Be clear on your ‘packaging’or how you present or bundle your services, along with your various modalities for charging for them.
Once you are clear about what you want to create or the solutions to implement, it is all about execution. Have a secondary meeting a couple days later with the team members or advisory board members that
You will be empowered by the clarity this session will provide. Once your strategy is clear, you are ready to set goals, milestones, and plan for the needed resources to accomplish your goals.
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T HE M OST COMMON Q U E ST IO N S AS K E D BY IN T E RIO R D E S IG N E RS
s Q A F - 18 -
By Marla Marshall As a CPA and consultant specializing in the interior design industry, clients often ask how they can better manage their finances. I frequently hear the same questions from various interior designers, so I thought Iâ€™d answer some of them here.
If you’ve wondered about any of these issues as they pertain to your business, let’s tackle them one by one and get you on the road to greater clarity: As a CPA and consultant specializing in the interior design industry, my clients often ask me how they can better manage their finances. I frequently hear the same questions from various interior designers, so I thought I’d answer some of them here. If you’ve wondered about any of these issues as they pertain to your business, let’s tackle them one by one and get you on the road to greater clarity: “ H OW MUCH MON EY I N MY BA NK ACCOUN T I S MI N E?”
When it comes to the amount that’s yours to distribute to yourself or invest in your business (such as adding a new employee or purchasing new equipment), we need to take a good look at your bank account. First, focus on the money in the account that does not necessarily belong to you – some items you may want to exclude (this list is not all-inclusive and your unique circumstances must be considered): • Outstanding checks • Client retainers: These may need to be returned to the client • Client deposits: A portion of the deposit may be owed to the vendor. You will also want to consider spending any profit included in the deposit before the item is complete. If for any reason, you or your vendor does not produce the item, you will be liable to return the deposit to your client. • Sales tax: Funds collected but not yet remitted to the government • Credit card debt: It is important to remember to keep track of all credit card charges incurred that are not yet on your statement. • Loans and lines of credit balances • Accounts payable
On another note, it’s a good idea to set aside several months of estimated operating expenses and income tax liabilities. Building this reserve up to a comfortable level will help you in a period of decreased cash flow. “WHY DO I NEED TO RECO NCILE ? ”
You’re looking at your bank balance and it shows $1 million. Fantastic! But wait – before you start spending that, didn’t you just write $500,000 in checks today? Ah. Maybe you should hold off on buying all those new computers or office furnishings for a while longer. Hence, the critical importance of reconciling. Reconciling helps identify any checks you’ve written recently that have not cleared your bank. Or, for that matter, what if there was an error in which a check was deposited twice or an expense recorded three times? What if you made a typo upon recording and added an extra number where you shouldn’t have? Your cash account would not only be incorrect, but your income and expenses would be wrong as well. Food for thought, whether an error is in your favor or not. Reconciling is necessary to help you understand your finances because too many people tend to look solely at their bank account balance and not at their accounting software balance. You need to pay close attention to both to ensure all the entries in your books are consistent with the bank’s activity. “WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE B ETWEEN A PRO FIT M A RGIN A ND A M A RKU P PERCENTAGE?”
To explain these terms, let’s use the following example: Your design contract states you sell merchandise at cost plus 30%. The item you are selling has a purchase cost of $1,000. So, based on the terms of your contract, the selling price of the item will be $1,300. Markup - Using the above example, the markup is $300 and your markup percentage is 30%. - co n t i nued nex t page
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c on t i n u e d f r om p a g e 1 9
Gross Profit - Gross profit is calculated by deducting the cost of the item from the selling price. In the above example, your selling price is $1,300 and your cost is $1,000 so your gross profit is $300. Gross Profit Margin - The percentage calculated when gross profit is divided by selling price. When we divide $300 by $1,300, we get a gross profit margin of 23%. Put another way, out of every dollar sold, $.23 is profit. Net Profit - Net profit is gross profit less operating expenses. Net Profit Margin - Net profit margin is calculated by dividing net profit by sales. Net profit margin is an indicator of how much of each dollar sold is available for distributions, savings, loan repayment, capital expenditures, etc.
• Cash Basis - Revenue is recorded when cash is received, and expenses are recorded when cash is paid to vendors. • Accrual Basis - Revenue is recorded when earned and expenses are recorded when incurred. The accrual basis matches the expense with the revenue when the revenue is earned. When selling a piece of custom furniture, revenue would be recognized when the item has been completed. At that time, the selling price of the item would be included in income on your income statement and the cost of the item is expensed to cost of sales. In the interior design industry, this method provides a clearer picture of true profit when reviewing your income statement. “DO I NEED TO C H ARGE SALES TAX WH EN WOR KING
“ D O I R EAL LY N EED TO
ON A PROJEC T OUT OF STATE? ”
K E E P AL L MY R ECEI PTS ?”
The answer is…yes, according to the IRS, if you want a deduction for it, you should save your receipts. There’s also some confusion about what constitutes a record of receipt. For example, some people assume that their credit card or bank statement replaces all their receipts – nice try, but no. A statement may not itemize your transactions. Here’s the good part: We have made some progress on this front. You no longer need to keep a shoebox full of paper receipts. There are a lot of apps that enable you to take a picture, scan it, store it and share it electronically. So keeping your receipts is important for deductions, but it’s getting a lot more efficient while requiring less actual paper. “ W HAT I S T HE DI F FER EN CE B E T WEEN CAS H BAS I S AN D ACCRUAL BAS I S ACCOUN T I NG?”
The cash basis and accrual basis of accounting refers to the method used when income and expenses are recorded in your accounting system. The main difference between the two methods is in the timing of the transaction recording. A brief description of each method follows:
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When shipping merchandise out of state, if ownership transfers to your client in that state, you are generally not responsible for collecting sales tax in your home state. It’s always a good idea to check the state’s rules and tax laws as they vary by state. Consider registering to do business in that state and to collect sales tax and file a sales tax return. If that’s not an option, it should be noted that the end user – your client – is responsible to pay use tax on all merchandise they receive. Remember, it’s always best to ask your CPA or financial advisor these types of questions. This is what we’re here for – not merely to file essential tax paperwork but to be the trusted resource who sets you on the right path and gives you peace of mind so that you can focus on what you do best. In other words, this is your business we’re talking about. And to get the answers you deserve, there are no dumb questions. Reprinted with permission from ASID Texas Chapter - originally published Issue IV 2018 | 2019 Marla Marshall, CPA is the owner and Lead Consultant of Designer Accounting & Consulting. With over 15 years of experience working exclusively with designers, Marla has a deep level of insight on best practices, initiatives and challenges that the design industry faces. As each design practice is unique and each designer has his or her own priorities, Marla builds relationships with her clients to help them realize their business goals. She offers customized, cost- effective services such as accounting, process improvement, profitability analysis, project management procedures, cash management and strategic development.
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T h r e e A S ID De s ig n er s Share Their Own P e r s ona l T houg h t s a n d P r actica l A dv ic e on S ta rti ng a B u s in es s
â€œLife begins at the end of your comfort zone.â€? - Neale Donald Walsche
1. shawn alshut of studio a2 interiors & architecture 2. janie hirsch of j. hirsch interiors 3. laurie lehrich of cardea home, kitchen design
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SHAWN ALSHUT, RA, ASID, RID - studio a2 interiors | architecture
1. What practical advice would you go back and give yourself when you were starting your company that you didn’t know at the time?
STUDIO A2 was born out of the market conditions of 2009 Global Recession. Starting our firm was “like getting in on the ground floor of a building being evacuated”. Sink or swim. Our mantra was: “The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. Strangely it turns out well...I don’t know how. It’s a mystery.” (Shakespeare in Love) Going into our 11th year, it is no longer a mystery. It takes a lots of hard work, an ability to see the big picture and the small details, and the support of great colleagues, advisors, clients and collaborators. I am so thankful for my ASID friends who provided thoughtful feedback, suggestions, and contacts along the way. Practical Advice I would give myself when we started STUDIO A2 : Work | Life Balance My previous experience was with large corporate architecture firms and consisted of at least five concurrent, fully scheduled, work days. These were balanced with some “Fred Flintstone
| I’m out of here!” moments on weekends and paid vacations. Starting my own firm removed the previous corporate structure and created a vacuum of unscheduled time. The business, and structure, was mine to create. It was a real shift in lifestyle. I would now remind myself that the ability to stop focusing on the current or next project, to simply “shut it off” isn’t easy, but it is important.
2 . Do you have any thoughts
specifically relating to the article topics for this issue? Strategy, Finance, Marketing or Legal?
I wish that we had had access to such concise information when starting STUDIO A2.
3. What haven’t we asked you
about that you want to share with someone considering an entrepreneurial venture? Anything, really!
Advice given to me when starting STUDIO A2: You do not have to do everything yourself. Hire experts to fill the gaps in your own experience. Stay connected & Keep learning: Through industry organizations, events, colleagues. www.studioa2-design.com
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JANIE HIRSCH, ASID
- j. hirsch interiors interior designer
What practical advice would you go back and give yourself when you were starting your company that you didnâ€™t know at the time?
If I could go back in time to when I was younger, I would advise myself to learn more about business operations and marketing strategy. The few professional practice classes that we were required to take are not near enough to actually understanding how to run a business, the tax implications to understand, markup and margins, and how to market your firm to bring in clients. We as designers are already creative, so the business side of things are often the harder part of running our business.
2 . Do you have any thoughts specifically relating to the article topics for this issue? Strategy, Finance, Marketing or Legal?
Every designer needs to know the importance of having a thorough and easy to understand contract agreement with their clients. While it is a difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable document to go over with your client, it is there to protect you, and them. It is easy to feel like it might scare your client, but it hopefully clearly states how you work, the scope of what services you offer, and how you set your fees. When these items are defined well, it should make your client comfortable and trusting in working with you.
3 . What havenâ€™t we asked you about that you want to share with someone considering an entrepreneurial venture? Anything, really!
A topic that I think is often skipped over is how to manage people, such as your design team, assistants, human resources, and accounting. Besides guiding them, training them, and mentoring them, you need to remember to be calm and respectful in difficult situations, along with listening to their ideas, including your team in decisions that affect them, and praising and recognizing your people when deserved. Praise goes a long way in making your team feel important and knowing that they are valued. www.jhirschinteriors.com
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LAURIE LEHRICH, ASID INDUSTRY PARTNER - cardea home kitchen designer
What practical advice would you go back and give yourself when you were starting your company that you didn’t know at the time? In terms of broad, critically necessary advice, I think I would have tried to internalize more faith in myself the way my friends and family encouraged me to do. Fear is a non-starter, and it’s also a completely surmountable obstacle. In retrospect it can be one of those things you end up kicking yourself over because the dark shadow of the unknown that terrified you at one point might just turn into an innocuous pile of laundry discarded on a chair when you turn the light on. Less metaphorically: the way you frame your own challenges matters. To further refine that into practical advice, write down what you’re afraid of. Then give yourself some options for addressing those fears. You must turn on the light before you can think about maybe folding your clothes and putting them away.
2. Do you have any thoughts
specifically relating to the article
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topics for this issue? Strategy, Finance, Marketing or Legal? Get a good team. You don’t have to be a master of every arena of your business; investing in good people with expertise in adjacent areas allows you to refine and narrow your focus down to the work you do best.
3 . What haven’t we asked you
about that you want to share with someone considering an entrepreneurial venture? Anything, really! Iterate! Rome wasn’t built in a day. Failing upwards is just another way of writing a rough draft, or starting a sketch, or planning a space. You cannot edit what doesn’t exist, so the best thing you can do for yourself in getting started is to dump as much brainstorming as you can onto the table at once. Give yourself options to choose from. Have faith in the process, and you’ll find that your vision will start to take shape in front of you with every decision you make. Good luck! www.cardeahome.com
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