When I started working in the interior design sector it was for Design Campus, at the time the industry’s premier summit for interior designers interested in growing their businesses. We covered everything from how to market and how to set fees to celebrity branding and licensing deals. It was a fast track for designers who attended, a front row seat to the who’s who of the design sector — manufacturers, rep groups, top designers, HGTV producers, magazine editors and more. The event packed an enormous amount of information into a few days at furniture markets across the country.
There were summits before and there have been many summits since, plus a new crop of online interior design business coaching programs that have taken off in recent years, especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is demand for business coaching. Designers clearly need it, but are the programs worth it? They all promise greater profits and streamlined work. Do they deliver?
The short answer to both questions is yes, if you find the right fit for you and are committed to doing the homework. Many of the best design business coaches have had successful interior design careers and genuinely want to pay forward their decades of experience.
Here are a few recommendations for coaches, whose clients’ success stories speak for themselves:
A design career jump-start
There’s no such thing as a get-rich-quick coach, but Kimberley Seldon, founder of Business of Design, may be as close as it gets. She has a fiery energy, and her process demands immediate changes. If your business battery needs a jump-start, she’s your coach. It’s nearly impossible to walk out of a session without an actionable takeaway to apply immediately. Seldon was a standout speaker and attendee favorite when we first began hosting Design Campus events live at the Las Vegas Market.
An academy for correcting your mindset
Terri Taylor, founder of Interior Design Business Academy, is an expert when it comes to helping you blast past the mental blocks hampering your business’ expansion. She’s a phenomenal mindset coach and wildly inspiring. Part of selecting the right business coach is being honest about what you need help with most, and Taylor delves deep to deliver lasting results. She’s also amazing at helping you script for better communication with clients.
Scaling your design firm
Recently rebranded The Pearl Collective, Gail Doby’s program is excellent for developing systems within your firm that will help you grow. The Pearl Collective, which Doby co-founded with Erin Weir, is a mastermind boot camp for the serious interior designer with big goals. The information Doby gives away for free on her podcast is invaluable and a smart way to dip your toes into the world of business coaching, but there is no replacement for the specificity of one-on-one and mastermind coaching.
Great interior design business coaches are worth their weight in gold. Coaches like these pick up where your design degree left off with essential business skills like operations, bookkeeping and marketing. They have years of experience in the sector and understand the ins and outs, loopholes and potholes that designers may not anticipate when they start their firms.
Courtney Porter is a designer, author, host and media director. She specializes in seamlessly bringing interior designers, architects, furniture manufacturers and showrooms’ physical products and services into the digital world. She is co-author of “Green Interior Design: The Guide to Sustainable High Style” with Lori Dennis. Porter also is a host and producer of design shows. You may have caught her on “Behind the Bar,” interviewing your favorite celebrity designers or sharing her favorite decor finds on the live sales network Lit Live.