It’s coming up to 8 years since I started my interior decorating business and when a business birthday approaches I always think back to those early days and reminisce on firstly how naive I was starting a business aged 24 and secondly how I could never have guessed what kind of adventures that business would take me on.
There are a few things I do see as game changers or transformational for the business so I thought I’d share some of them here with you today.
I can be quite shy around new people so when I first started networking I always made sure I took a friend along with me so I didn’t have to try and think of small talk topics with a bunch of strangers. Now I’m generally okay to attend networking events on my own but if you’re starting out, grab a business buddy and take them with you to ease your nerves.
Networking changed so much for my business. It opened my eyes to other business industries and entrepreneurs and gave me insights into how they ran their businesses. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others at networking events, just make sure you don’t beat yourself up about the way you’ve done things compared to them, everyone’s journey is different (not necessarily better, just different).
Being able to gain insight into how others run their businesses helped guide me with my business decision making. It also gave me access to other people who were very willing to share their experiences and advice which helped immensely when I faced challenging moments in business. It was also a nice chance to catch up with people who ‘got it’ in terms of what it takes to run a business, regardless of the industry they are in.
So why am I telling you to get out and network? Opening myself up to other business owners and industries has lead to so many client opportunities. Once you expand your network and people get to know you and your business they’ll start referring friends, family members or business opportunities to you because they’ve seen how you operate and they respect your work. It’s a form of word of mouth really!
Not sure how to start networking? Research your local government’s networking opportunities. NSW’s list is here. Join Facebook groups like this one (I’m a founding member of this one and have made SO many friends from it) or this one (I created this group and we share a tonne of useful info for the design industry). Consider posting up asking for people in your area to meet for coffee (small scale networking is JUST as powerful!). And lastly, attend trade fairs, they often have a welcome drinks night on the first day of the fairs which is the perfect opportunity to meet people in your industry.
I’m an avid reader (and considering I’ve written two books now I guess you can say I’m also an avid writer….!). I do wish I had more time to read more books and I probably would have more time if I stopped scrolling through Instagram every night… maybe that should be a new years resolution…?! I’ve read more business books than I’d care to admit, here’s a list of some of the best ones I’ve come across. I’ve implemented so many things from each of these books in my business and often go back and re-read these books to jog my memory.
- Branding & Interior Design
- The Business of Design : Balancing Creativity and Profitability
Coaching + Mentoring
Unlike networking, coaching and mentoring will generally cost you some money but let me tell you…. It’s some of the best money I’ve spent. I’m a firm believer in continuing my education beyond my university days because you really can’t ever know enough and there are other people out there with the skills you need!
I’ve worked with a number of coaches in the 8 years I’ve been in business and have participated in a number of online group courses and can’t recommend them highly enough. A group program allows you to learn from others (it’s amazing how many of them all have similar struggles to you) and also gives you the chance to network with them. I’ve even made a few friends from these programs!
Having participated in a number of mentor programs I saw the benefits first hand of the power of communicating in a group and the collective knowledge of a group in a learning environment which prompted me to start my own mentor program. I’ve run it for 12 months now and have opened up my next in take for 2019 starting Thursday 7th Feb. Last year I worked with 20 mentor students all over Australia and watched as they came to the first class with a million worries and questions and then walked away at the end of the 4 week program with their confidence levels boosted and an action plan to follow over the next few months to keep them on track. Each of them have gone on to achieve their own successes and I couldn’t be prouder.
Here’s what a few of them had to say about the program last year:
“I met Emma at one of the workshops she runs. She was so inspiring for someone who was a little tentative about starting out in the world of interior styling and design. I decided to then join her Business of Decorating Mentor Program and it was the best decision I could have made to start my interior styling business. Having Emma’s knowledge and advice guiding me through the process was priceless and I can’t thank her enough for helping me to realise my dream of starting something that brings me so much joy!” – Alison – Alison Jane Styling
“In my business I believe in learning from the best and Emma definitely falls into that category. During our one hour call she answered some burning questions, gave me a few ‘aha’ moments and managed to help me avoid some costly mistakes. Highly recommend.” – Amanda – Amanda Smythe Design
You can read more about the program here and enrol. I’m only accepting a small number of students this year so if you’re interested I’d suggest you sign up sooner rather than later.
I’d love to hear what’s been a game changer for you in business, shoot me an email to tell me! [email protected]
Enrol now in my mentor program by clicking here.