Louise Bradley has been designing classic, contemporary interiors for three decades and is one of the UK’s leading interior designers, her name is synonymous with bespoke luxury interior design worldwide and she has designed significant residential projects across the globe.
The designer celebrates the 30th anniversary of her eponymous interior design studio with a book INTERIOR, which is out now. Here, she shares her top six tips for running a successful creative business.
Take the leap
Nothing will ever be perfectly lined up to start your own business, the most important thing is that you begin. It will always require a leap of faith – whether that means leaving your day job or taking a business loan or spending the weekends getting things off the ground.
All that matters is that you take the leap – that’s how you start. Don’t overthink it – simply work on the core of your business, why you are doing it and focus the first few years on establishing that. You’ll need solid foundations, which stem from both determination and passion, from which you can then grow.
It’s common advice, yet it’s the most important one, that simply can’t be omitted – building relationships is critical when starting a business. Each relationship is equally as important, whether that’s your clients, your team or your suppliers. Be certain to nurture these.
Good relationships with your clients is the most important place to start, this will lead to seamlessly working together and projects running smoothly – not to mention the higher likelihood of repeat business in the future. Taking care of your team, understanding their working styles and passions will create a healthy work atmosphere in which everybody will flourish and strive to do their best. Successfully managing your relationships with suppliers is hugely important, they are ultimately an extension of your team.
Embrace the storms
Challenges are part and parcel of running a business, regardless of how well you run it. It’s easy, in the early years, to expect everything to go smoothly and to be averse to things such as economical downturns, political changes, or unprecedented setbacks like we have been experiencing over the past year.
Don’t deny that these things can happen, or the harder it will be to weather the storm. Instead, fully embrace them – learn everything possible about the new situation and adapt quickly in all areas of your business where it’s possible.
Then I suggest thinking about opportunities – what can you change, to turn a difficult situation into a positive. Are there working practices that can be more flexible, can you change the way you communicate with your clients, can you add new services or products to your portfolio? Often, when you have to think on your feet, you can come up with the best ideas.
Once the excitement of starting your own business has settled, and the first few challenges have presented themselves, you may start asking yourself why you’re doing it. Doubt might creep in, together with fatigue – it can be both physically and emotionally draining in the early days of your company. At those times, simply focus on the task at hand and the next step and keep showing up. It’s easy to forget the present moment when you are concerned about the future or you’re holding on tightly to your five-year-plan. But in truth, what you do today, is what matters most.
Trust your instinct
As your business grows, you’ll meet people every day, with different points of view and advice on how to run things. You will read business books and trend reports and follow other business owners on social media. In the noise of information, it might be harder to recognise your true calling and the right thing to do. My suggestion is to listen to advice from people who are successful at what they do and have experience in the field they’re advising on. Once you have all of this information and guidance, try to have a quiet moment, in which you can put the logic to a side, and consider if certain actions and ideas feel right. Your instinct is one of your most powerful business tools.
As the years go by, the world and people around you change and evolve, so will your business. I recommend not having too much of a rigid hold on your business and your idea of what it is and where it’s going.
Responding to the changing times will allow your business to grow organically and naturally evolve into the best company you can have at a given moment in time. Being open to change, will also allow your creativity to flourish, as you’ll be able to follow your curiosity and explore new creative avenues.