The ability to project profits is the key to success. It may not be easy at first, but everything you work towards should include this goal. This month, we share insights from our coached clients on where they started, where they are now, and what their future plans are.
These designers run different businesses, but they share a commitment to success and a passion to learn. We must maintain this learning capacity because our culture and our market change often and quickly. The coaching market is saturated with people eager to help others. The key is finding the right person with the right experience who can help you achieve your goals. Find someone who can step up and help you move the needle.
Collected Living Design, MO
I started my business as a solopreneur away from home in 2019. After a year, I had the opportunity to bring in another designer as a partner, and we continued to work from my couch and to store customer product in my basement. At that time, we were charging a flat fee, but pulling numbers out of a hat. We had no idea how much we had to charge to be able to afford anything. We were charging $500 to $800 per room for design fees, and clients were spending $10,000 to $18,000 for a room. Yeah.
Sasha Marie Interiors, NY
I started my business in Feb 2020 but didn’t start taking clients until August 2020 because I really wanted to speak with a business coach first and better understand how to achieve my goal of replacing my income of $70,000. I am a planner!
In a very short time, I was able to replace my income, quit my full-time job and try my luck. I couldn’t have done this with confidence without knowing that I had a business partner with Cheryl’s experience in my corner. For 2021/2022, together we set a goal for the company to raise $100,000 and hire someone to help me. The maximum I had ever felt confident enough to charge before that was $2,500.
Christi Holcombe Interiors
I worked in a studio above my garage until our shop opened in May 2020. I randomly loaded with no defined method or specific processes and each project had an inconsistent price and it was much more difficult to qualify customers because we had no framework. We would have big projects here and there, but they weren’t stable and small projects fulfilled. I was charging $150/hour with only a 30% markup on goods. We went down to two people at the start of the pandemic. Before that, we never had more than three people.
Blooming Daisies Interior Design, AZ
In the spring of 2017, after redoing my fireplace, I created a cozy space just for me. As a single mother, I needed it. It was the start for me to think that I wanted to do this for other people and start a business so my time would be more flexible. I had no idea that flexibility would mean working all hours of the day! With a 45 minute commute to work, my car has become a design/business university listening to podcasts. I started with $100 consultations and then went up to $297. My average design fee was $3,000.
shandy: We now charge about $2,000 in design fees for one part, and most of the time we make several parts for one client. Our clients now spend an average of $25,000 for a space, depending on the room. We also design new custom builds and use Cheryl’s average model to calculate design fees for these projects. Depending on the size of the home, fees for these projects start at $25,000. We’ve grown from less than $100,000 in revenue in the first year to $270,000 to $600,000, and now expect to more than double in 2022.
We now have a furnished two-room studio that allows our customers to see our aesthetic and discover our favorite lines of furniture. In the third room, we work on designs with our team, which has also grown. We currently have an order specialist and a project manager, and eight months ago we recruited two additional partners, another designer and a general contractor, and we have a carpenter on site.
Sasha: Since working with Cheryl, the business has brought in over $400,000. Not only was I able to replace my income, but I was able to save time with my son with special needs.
We currently have nine active projects (furnishings and construction) and each has a flat design fee and minimum spend so I can project my revenue and hire for growth. We hired a project manager, a design intern and an in-house handyman. Our fees average $10,000 with higher fees and lower fees, but always with a minimum outlay based on the client’s needs. Another benefit of working with Cheryl as a coach has been her business program. It’s a safe place for me to buy products because I know she’s not going anywhere!
Cristi: The idea of starting the CH Home boutique was born after my husband was fired and was able to help me get started. Then the pandemic hit and we thought we were going to lose all our savings. But we persevered and kept moving forward and the coaching helped me stay sane during this time. Now we charge flat fees with minimal spend 90% of the time and being able to project our revenue has fueled our growth. Our average fees are up to $25,000 with a minimum spend of $45,000. On average, we have 35 to 40 projects running at the same time. We have grown to 12 employees and moved into a 3,500 square foot office in October 2021.
Wendy: I love design and putting together a beautiful space is a lot of fun and seeing our customers overwhelmed with emotion is the best feeling. But when I watch my business grow and how it affects my employees, contractors, and contractors, that’s when the fun really starts! We charge higher fees; our average is now $18,000 and higher minimum spend than I ever thought possible. Our initial consulting fee is now $347, and Cheryl convinced me to bill by the hour for project management as well. I currently have two employees and I am learning the art of delegation!
shandy: I have a long list of things we would like to do, including a storefront, a book, and adding real estate to our business. I’m building an empire, and Cheryl taught me how to be profitable doing it.
Sasha: We just submitted a proposal for a design fee of $28,500 and a minimum spend of $100,000, and are actively looking for a writer to add to the team. I confidently signed a car lease and mortgage based on my success in projecting my profits.
Cristi: I would like to open a second store or get into product design next. And we are packed after less than a year in the new location!
Wendy: We are looking to move into an office and have a small showroom and expand our work room. I want to double my income within two years and hire two seamstresses — we now have our own workshop — a designer and another general assistant. I have big plans!
Profit projection and coaching
shandy: Being able to project our revenues and resulting profits has changed everything. It started with understanding the income we needed to run our business. Until I changed my mind to figure out what the design fee should cover, I wasn’t charging appropriately. We worked with Cheryl through both one-on-one coaching and her group coaching program, and quickly realized we weren’t charging enough to cover our operating expenses and pay ourselves. . She helped us figure out how to calculate our profit margin, tally up all the expenses for the year, and work backwards to figure out how many clients we needed to have and how much we needed to charge for that work in order to make the profit we needed.
Sasha: The hardest part was when my husband lost his $250,000 salary. If I hadn’t followed the flat fee, minimum spend business model, I would have had no idea how much income I would be providing during a scary time for my family.
The only way to succeed with any coach is to present everything transparently. You must be honest in what you do and be open to learning. Cheryl revamps the way you think about your business and repeatedly emphasizes that there are ups and downs and new challenges with each level of growth you reach. She insists that you work! I feel like I have someone who “gets me” and that gives me great confidence to push myself harder.
Cristi: The biggest takeaway is that you can’t scale in any capacity without knowing your numbers. If you can’t predict revenue and profit, you can’t know when to hire, order inventory, or even take a vacation. Without the coaching I received from Cheryl, I probably would have destroyed my shop and my business. I am serious about this. I am grateful to have met her in the Facebook group Small Business Think Big!
Wendy: I worked with a few coaches and I learned something from each of them. Having a dedicated business coach has been the best investment I’ve made in my business, myself, and my sanity! It all starts with the mindset that you are a money-making business. Cheryl taught me how to make my business model a win/win for me and my client. It was a complete game-changer for my business and helped me know my projected profits, which is vital for a growing business. She layers concepts to make sure you’re looking at all parts of your business to run a tight ship. We must always evolve and stretch to reach that higher level. Some days are tough, but I love owning a business.