How To Spend $400/mo. on Marketing

This was the question I got from an Edge member in a complimentary call today. Specifically, she was interested in advertising in a magazine called “Top Producer” that is sent to 500 of the top real estate agents in major markets. She was considering a 1/3 page ad for $400/mo on a three-year contract. The

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About Your Amazing, Incredible (Future) Firm!

Your firm has grown 100% in just one year and has created a workflow that is the buzz of affluent clients throughout your market. That cover story in the hot local magazine brought scores of highly-qualified leads, and your new project management team is implementing with unprecedented efficiency. Your cash flow and personal earnings have

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What Are “Retained Earnings?”

And perhaps even more important, “where” are retained earnings? Retained earnings is a term that most every small business owner has heard. And while not every interior designer sees a balance sheet every month, they could probably tell you that “retained earnings” is a line item on the balance sheet. The reason few business owners

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The Ultimate Christmas Gift?

This will be a short post, because I simply want you to visit a previous post, scroll down to the comments and watch the 2-minute video generously contributed by Edge Member Jeff Schulz. His firm, K. Renee, asks for nominations from families of soldiers in their community. Once the winner is selected, K Renee completes

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Time to Do A Little Banking?

Mark Twain said, “A bank was a place from which to get money if you could prove that you absolutely don’t need it!” That’s why the best time to get loans, credit cards, or to extend lines of credit, is absolutely when you don’t need it. And for many designers, that time is now. For

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The Three Critical Cash Flow Phases for Interior Designers

Income v. Wealth One of the reasons over 90% of interior designers retire with no significant savings is that they spend their entire working lives, well, working! In too many cases, they create hard-working, almost minimum wage jobs for themselves instead of focusing on creating wealth. There’s a huge difference between the concepts of income

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The Next Big Thing For Marketing Is…

Wait for it…eMail! So let me tell you who Pat Flynn is. Pat is a former architect who, when he lost his job about a decade ago, started blogging. He discovered that if he blogged a lot, and targeted his markets carefully, he could actually make a little money by selling online courses and running

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Can a Puppy Help Land Your Next Whale?

I’ll be writing a lot over the next few months about the role that purpose can have in your business and your life. The reality is that most people associate the word “purpose” with direct links to their profession, that is to say, the business side of things. Their purpose, for example, is to “bring

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Should You Show “Before and After?”

For many years I have advised against showing “before and after” photos on designer websites for one reason: They are almost always poorly executed. The concept is obviously tempting, but the images I have seen too often display “afters” that really didn’t change much. Sure, a wall is painted and there’s some more furniture, but

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The Question Interior Designers Dread Most

“So, how much will you make on that?” Have you ever heard that one? Strange, isn’t it? Your customers don’t ask that of their doctors or lawyers, and probably not even of their real estate agents or stock brokers. It seems perfectly reasonable to them that a real estate agent makes more selling a $5

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The Power of Momentum

What is Momentum and How Do You Get It? Momentum is an interesting word and after doing some research, I’m actually surprised there are not more theories about its role in business success. The powerful aspect of momentum is that it implies that something picks up speed or power as it continues on its path,

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You Must Find Your ONE THING!

In his book, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller, founder of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., we are introduced to a profound question that made me stop in my tracks. I already know that questions (far more than answers)are the key to developing winning strategies and I have asked

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Setting the Wrong Goals and Rewards Can Be Self-Defeating

In business schools, students are taught that it’s important to match the right type of financing to the underlying asset that is being financed. For example, you wouldn’t buy a building with a line-of-credit that carried a high interest rate and was supposed to be paid off every few months. Nor would you finance your

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Sometimes Interior Designers Just Need an Excuse to Market

My coaching and consulting clients often come to me because they feel stuck. I hear them express sentiments like: “I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, running fast but getting nowhere.” “Every year looks sort of like the previous one; I think there’s going to be a breakthrough, but here I am again.” “We’re

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Great Design v. Great Designer?

I’m not an interior designer; I’m just a business guy. Business school professor, entrepreneur, and coach and consultant to successful interior designers all across the country. So I’m sometimes amused when I scour magazines and blogs and websites and see what other people think are “great designs.” Whether it’s a sleek and gorgeous ultra-modern home

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Why Don’t More Interior Designers Merge?

Here’s a test question for you. Which is more, $100,000 or half of $100,000? The answer might seem straight forward, but week after week as I work with interior designers, many of whom are the only one billing time in their firms, I have to wonder. When I consider a random set of these designers,

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Showing Employees How the Sausage is Made

I’ve lost count of how many design firm principals tell me they keep their financial results to themselves because they don’t want their employees to “…know how much I make.”  How much? That’s funny, because the reason I’m looking at their financial statements, or even talking to them, is often because of how little they’re

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The Lessons of Pandora’s Box

I am constantly and consciously aware of keeping my business (and those of my coaching clients) simple. As I’ve written before, I even keep a book entitled “Rework” on my desk at all times. The authors remind me of how toxic it can be to try and do more and more and more. Rather, as

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Can You Pass the “Acid Test?”

One of the many good news / bad news facts of life for interior designers is that there are many different ways to earn a great living. (And many ways to earn a crappy living, too.) The good news is that design firm principals can craft a business model that they enjoy operating, and make

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The 7 Reasons Interior Design Firms Fail

How Many Of These Are You Guilty Of? They don’t define “success” clearly enough, which means they don’t have a target that drives and inspires them. Just living month-to-month for year after year is not success. Set a specific income and savings goal for the next five years and create the detailed plan necessary to

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A Real Estate Agent Referral Strategy

Perhaps It’s As Simple as This Edge Member Jennifer DesJardin created a detailed talk to give to real estate agents on the simple things their sellers could do to make their homes look much better. Keep in mind that real estate agents are typically getting 1.5% of the total sales price, so helping them to

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The Four Phases of Cash Sufficiency for Interior Designers

How Much Cash You Have Is Not What Matters Most Every small business owner and interior design firm principal knows that “cash is king.” And they all know that sometimes there’s more cash than at other times…but seemingly never enough. What they might not know is that that the amount of cash might not be

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Should You Hire a PR Pro?

Every now and then, I am asked by designers about whether they should hire a PR firm. Most of those who have done serious due diligence have gotten only as far as the monthly fee which can often run $5,000. Combine that with the fact that it can take months—or years—for these efforts to pay

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The #1 Question that Will Devastate Your Competition

What to Tell a Prospect Who’s Shopping Designers? Not long ago I was working with a designer who said she had been contacted by a potential whale. The whale informed her that she was interviewing six designers before making her decision. This designer and member of The Edge has a unique market position and strong

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IDEAS 2019 Conference

Interior Design Excellence through Accelerated Strategies You won’t want to miss the most extraordinary live event offered to interior designers since David Shepherd introduced the first Business of Design Conference in Las Vegas in 2004. Master Your Future Imagine being one of the few interior designers who is committed to mastering the business skills necessary

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She Made the Leap!

When is it Time to Grow Your Firm? Making the leap is an expression I’ve used for years. It conveys the reality for small firms that growth can’t be linear, but rather comes in big chunks that must be swallowed whole. This is true for sales (when that big, unexpected whale shows up) and in

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Clarifying Questions When Setting Strategy

What Einstein and You Have in Common Einstein said that if we can only form the right questions, the answers are often fairly easy. Based on my lifetime of helping interior designers to develop winning strategies, I have compiled this list of critical, and often difficult, questions I pose to my clients. Please take your

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Does Your Firm Need a 3% “Turnaround?”

3% Changes Are HUGE! I’ve written elsewhere in these pages about “the four stages of cash sufficiency,” but I didn’t tell you in that article exactly how to get more cash. Here’s one way. But instead of beginning with the story and then showing the proof, I’m going to begin with the proof. Admittedly, the

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7 Questions to Ask About Your Balance Sheet

I’m consulting with an interior design client right now that has a balance sheet problem. Most designers don’t consider themselves a “numbers person” and only about 1/3 really examine and understand the P&L statement they receive from their bookkeepers each month. Fewer than that read the other statement that is likely produced, the balance sheet.

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Getting Out; When Great Plans Fail

It’s tricky to get out of the interior design business. Winding down is hard because you never know exactly when to stop accepting projects, and so long as you accept them the lights are still on and additional new ones may come knocking on your door. Besides, you say you want to get out, but

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First Class of Designers Earn Their “MBA” Certification!

June 21, 2019 Fort Worth, TX FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For the first time ever, interior designers from across the country came together and spent an intensive three days completing David Shepherds’ new Interior Design MBA program. Held at the City Club in downtown Fort Worth, attendees participated in three full days of classroom-style lectures and

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Let Your Designers Eat What They Kill

Breaking Out of Your Delicate World I know, that’s a crass subject line, rarely heard in the delicate world of interior design, where “selling” is considered by many designers (especially employees) to be “beneath” them. And that’s what I don’t understand. It’s not that way for the man or woman who sells BMWs, or financial

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Join The Edge

Taking Your Business to a Whole New Level The Edge now offers three levels of membership, one for every budget and level of ambition. If you’ve never experienced the power and accountability provided by a professional business network, you can expect to see your earnings enjoy an immediate pop. And if you have been a

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What Interior Design Principals “Manage”

What Do Designers Manage? The word “manager” is not exactly music to the ears of most interior design firm principals. It sounds so corporate when they view themselves more as artists, or at least as creative craftsmen. But the complexity of the business, and the addition of staff can quickly lead to the role of

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Damn that Rabbit Hole!

I just spiraled out of control. Again. And to the best of my knowledge, there is no rehab center for my addiction. Me! The one who studies and preaches focus, simplicity, and strategy. The one who rails against the evils of complexity, the nefarious buildup of “dark matter,” and the often useless “flurry” of micro-transactions

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In Praise of the Lowly Invoice!

Want to know how your business works, or doesn’t work? Get out an invoice.  I recently consulted with a fairly large firm that is really three separate interior design firms being operated under one brand and one roof. (Residential, Hospitality, and Model homes.) To try and figure out what resources could be shared among the

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The Most Profound Variable on Profitability?

When I begin working with a new interior design coaching client, I set up a shared “dashboard” using a program that many designers use as well—Basecamp. (www.basecamp.com.) The Basecamp dashboard becomes a very convenient place to share messages, documents, and to-dos that each of us has agreed to. It also allows for as many “reminders”

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Why All of Your Employees Must SELL!

So You Don’t Want to Sell? Nothing gets this MBA/entrepreneur’s blood boiling faster than when I interview designers who say that they don’t want to “sell.,” or those who tell me they got into the business to create beautiful designs and that’s all they want to do. Yeah, and all a five-year-old wants to do

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The Problem With LOAs

Few interior designers spend time truly putting their Letter of Agreements to work for them. In too many cases with my interior design coaching clients, I have seen them use a generic contract, perhaps one found in a textbook or on the ASID website. For the record, I can’t imagine a worse LOA than the

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Avoiding Cash Poor Clients

  One thing I hear from my interior design coaching clients about meeting prospective clients for the first time, is how to know whether or not they truly have the money required for the project they envision. Too many interior designers just assume that they do, which can only lead to problems later on. The

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Interior Design Takes Hard Work

No Shortcuts to Interior Design Success One of the first things I tell students of the Interior Design MBA Certification Program is that there will be some hard work. More importantly, just like most university-level classrooms, I tell them that there will be some moments when they are downright bored. And that’s good, because hard

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Does Postcard Marketing Work?

This is a question I frequently get from interior designers—”Does postcard marketing work?” Here is my email response to an Edge member who asked this question: Postcards have a checkered history to say the least. I would say 90% of designers come away disappointed, but to them I say that a one-off anything is unlikely

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