How to Lead Your Interior Design Business Through a Recession

interior design interior design business leadership mindset recession Jan 19, 2023

If you’re thinking, hang on, we’ve just gone through a pandemic, there’s a war, and WTAF now I have to worry about a recession??  Please allow me to share some thoughts.

So here's the deal. We’ve moved from a position where people were spending a lot because the costs of borrowing were so cheap, to a position where spending has slowed because prices have increased and the cost of borrowing is not so cheap.

Does this mean we’re all going out of business?  Of course not.

It simply means that things need to readjust. And this is normal. Markets expand, markets contract. Ebbs and flows. 

Our job at this time is to balance practical action with an empowered perspective.

Strategy + mindset. 

Here’s how -

Start by remembering that one or two slow months of new leads is not a downward spiral to bankruptcy. During the pandemic many designers experienced explosive growth, as people realised how much they needed to live and work in a nourishing space. But just because there have been a few boom years that doesn’t mean it’s forever up from here. Business growth is not a linear trajectory.  Much like the stock market there are ups and downs but zoom out and see the bigger picture and you’ll see the consistent long term growth.

A McKinsey study that looked at companies in the US and Europe during the last financial downturn shows that the businesses that not only survive but thrive in tough times act proactively rather than reactively.  Yes, they absolutely look at where costs can be cut. But at the same time they increase investment to get their house in order so as to be ready to capitalise on the rebound phase.

This is about creating a stable foundation. Knowing your numbers inside out. Cutting the fat, reducing debt, and building reserves. Whilst developing new products and services and getting creative about new ways to generate income. As the FT reports “The strategy of pulling growth and margin levers together, rather than simply battening down the hatches and cutting, works across every sector”.

If you have talent as a designer… If you know who you’re here to serve and you understand what they need to feel confident about investing in your services... Then your job now is to maintain your energy - even if you’re not seeing the results.

This is about showing up consistently in your marketing, without requiring the certainty and confirmation from people instantly saying ‘yes’ to working with you. Holding the belief in what you do and trusting peoples’ timing and that the work will come - not falling into a desperate, convincing, wobbly energy. 

Remembering that if your energy is always contingent on others and things outside of yourself your nervous system is going to be all over the place. Highs when you get an enquiry, lows when they tell you they can’t afford it. High again when the next enquiry comes.

You need to anchor to what you are building and who you are being for your business. You have to be open to the wins + the moments where things aren’t going as you hoped because you are building the emotional intelligence, resilience and resourcefulness to lead yourself no matter what.

Here's the thing...

Growing a business is all about believing in what will come if you build the right foundations, arm yourself with the knowledge you need and let the right people know how you can help them. If you’re spending too much time worrying that no one will come then you’re stuck and they never will. It is a journey of uncertainty. 

If you’re feeling pressure that you HAVE to win this next project you’re running your business in a way that is unsustainable. We don’t want that ‘all or nothing’ pressure so be asking - what does my business need for it to feel safer?  What do I need to do to build something that can flourish, no matter what?

Then no recession, no inflation, no amount of competition, nothing can get in your way.

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