Separating Business Finances from Personal Money: Business Credit Cards

Tips & Caveats

Separating business funds from personal finances should be every interior designer’s concern. Surprisingly, not many designers take this matter into serious consideration. For instance, many interior designers prefer to use their personal credit cards for their business expenses thinking that it makes no difference. But a wise interior designer should think about the long term complications that combining personal and business funds in just one account could cause later on.

At the start, you may find that using your personal credit card is enough. But as your design firm begins to grow and accumulate expenses, having a separate business account is indispensable. It will make a big difference not only in managing your business finances, but also in making finance-related decisions. In this article, let’s talk about the advantages of using business credit cards for your business expenses.

Business Credit Cards Means Easy Management

Why would it be easier to manage business finances using business credit cards? Because all your expenses are automatically included in your summary of accounts so you can be assured that you won’t miss recording a single purchase no matter how big or small that purchase was. You will be provided with monthly billing statements, along with quarterly and yearly summaries of your account.

These account summaries contain a detailed list of all the purchases you’ve made during the past months or the entire year. Purchases are also categorized so you can use it as reference to your bookkeeping and accounting tasks. Filing your business taxes is definitely made easier with the help of business credit card account statements.

Add to this, many business credit cards include the option to access your account online. This is an enormous help for a busy interior designer as it enables convenient tracking of business accounts at any time. Even as you work on your desk, you can simply log in to your online account and do your checking within just a few minutes. Account summaries are also downloadable so you can use them along with your accounting software.


Build Business Credit with the help of Business Credit Cards

Another important advantage of getting a business credit card is to build a separate credit history for your business. Don’t forget to register with a business credit bureau such as D&B or Experian to begin establishing your business credit immediately. By using your business credit card and keeping up with your payments on time, you can be assured that you will be building excellent credit history for your company.


Every business is confronted with financial challenges sooner or later. You may not need financial assistance at the moment but by the time you need to apply for a business loan to help you with your business projects, having a solid business credit history will help you secure an approval more easily. Aside from getting easy approval with your applications, having excellent business credit also guarantees that you’ll be offered better rates and terms by lenders.


In summary, getting a business credit card is beneficial in two ways- for separating personal from business finances and for building up a separate credit history for your business. If you’re a interior designer or planning on starting up a business of your own, this matter is definitely worth the thought.

Precautions for Using Credit Cards to Finance Your Business

Although there’s nothing wrong with using business credit cards, relying on them as the only means of financing your business poses a great risk. Let’s discuss the necessary precautions that you should consider when obtaining business credit cards.

Credit Cards for Business – The Caveats


What are the consequences of using business credit cards? First, there is the tendency to overspend. Since it’s so easy to charge purchases on a credit card, a interior designer may not immediately realize that he has already been maxing out on his credit line to shoulder business expenses. There may be times when even personal expenses are also charged to your business credit card. By the time your billing statement arrives, you may be surprised to find out how big the charges are on your account.


High Costs

Overspending or maximizing credit brings forth another complication. Because the charges are too high, you may not have enough cash to pay off your monthly balance in full. Instead, you may be forced to pay only the minimum due. Why is this risky? Don’t forget that each time you carry over your balance unto the next billing cycle, you also incur high interest rates on your account. This is the reason why many business credit card holders are facing huge credit card debts.


The Wrong Credit Card

Another challenge that interior designers face is choosing a business credit card that matches their needs and spending. Choosing the right card is crucial especially when it comes to credit cards that offer rewards. It’s so easy to get enticed by low interest rates and big rewards but if the program doesn’t suit your business, you may find that you’re not really getting the incentives you expected.


Jeopardize Your Business Credit

Business credit cards can be tools for building a separate credit history for your company however, this depends on how well you use your business credit card. For instance, if you’re often late in submitting your payments or if you’re in the habit of maximizing on your credit limit, you may doing more damage than good to your business credit.


The Effect on Your Personal Credit

Unless, you’ve already established your business credit, your personal credit history will also be affected with the way you handle your business credit card. As the owner of the business, you have the responsibility and obligation to pay for all charges reflected on your business account. This means, late payments on your business credit card will also pull down your personal credit score and affect your credit worthiness.

Use Your Business Credit Card Responsibly

Clearly, your success for using business credit cards in financing your business greatly depends on how well you take on your responsibilities as a card holder. Needless to say, credit cards can assist you with your business spending but it’s still important to seek traditional ways of business financing to reduce the risks.


By Pamela Williams
Photography by Rick Becker-leckrone

Pamela Williams is a Loan Consultant, Internet Marketer and Writer. For years she had helped consumers and business owners especially regarding business credit cards. This resource is dedicated particularly on business credit card reviews, articles, tips and advice, and online application so that consumers and business owners may compare which is the best business credit card for their business. Visit


10 Tips for Referrals That'll Grow Your Design Business

How to Create a Blockbuster Referral Machine that Builds Your Business

Tired of marketing like a maniac but not getting any clients? Beef up your referral systems, and soon you'll have all the clients you want.

Here are ten secrets of building a blockbuster referral machine that builds your business:

1. Network, network, network. And when I say network, I don't mean join groups and never go, or go but skulk around the sidelines, I mean network actively. Talk to people about their businesses, and about your business. Mingle with people you've only met once so that you get to know them better. Introduce yourself to everyone you don't know, and learn how you can refer to them, then teach them how they can refer to you.

2. Build a Team 100. A Team 100 is a network of 100 people with whom you have a reciprocal referral agreement. You feel comfortable referring others to them because you have personally sat down with these folks, and learned enough about their businesses to understand who will really benefit from their products or services. In the process of learning about them, they will learn about you, and so you have just expanded your circle of influence to the 300 people each of your Team 100 folks knows!


3. Refer to other people. Referrals are almost like yawns in that they spawn more of the same. I receive reciprocal referrals more often when I am referring to others, so I make it my business to refer as often as possible.

4. Ask for referrals. Ask your clients, ask your prospects, and ask your colleagues. But ask correctly. Don't ask if they know anyone who needs your services, because they might not know off the top of their heads. Sure, they know a lot of people, but may not think of the right person to refer to you unless you ask in the right way. The right way is to ask a clarifying question such as, "You're active in your neighborhood association, aren't you?" A positive response sets up your request for referrals: "Do you know anyone in your neighborhood who is also thinking about getting a new swimming pool?" That focuses the attention on a specific group, rather than on all acquaintances, which is more likely to result in an actual referral.

5. Give it away. Not your services or product, of course, but something valuable to people who are thinking about buying the services or products you have for sale. For example, you might have a free report or checklist on choosing the right professional for the job that you do. Once it becomes known (through your web site, press releases, and word of mouth) that you offer a great tool for figuring out how to buy what you're selling, you will become the go-to person for whatever it is that you offer.

6. Become visible. If you're not on the internet, you're invisible. But just one little web site isn't going to cut it these days; you need higher visibility. Get listed on your networking organizations' web sites, send out press releases, participate in community projects, and assume leadership positions in one or more of your social, business, or philanthropic groups.

7. Establish a stellar reputation. If you know that you're good, but not sure your clients are raving about you, ask them for written testimonials (but don't you dare write them yourself!). They will write much nicer things about you than you would ever write yourself, and the process reminds them of how good you are, so they are more likely to refer to you.


8. Create a rewards program for referrals. Set up a system that gathers information about how your clients heard about you, and reward those who refer to you. It can be as complicated or as simple as you like, but remember--if you promote it, you must honor it.

9. Develop strategic alliances with non-competing businesses. Find out who works with your clients before they need your services, and set up a system that funnels your clients their way, and their clients your way.


10. Reward referrals, not sales. It is your responsibility to close the sale, so always measure the success of your referral program by the number of referrals you get, not sales.

By Veronika Noize
Image by  Gina Smith
This article was written by Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach. Ronnie's web site is a comprehensive marketing resource for small office/home office business professionals. For free marketing resources including articles and valuable marketing tools, visit her web site at, or email her at


Estimating In Design

Don’t underestimate your estimating system’s potential.

Knowing what to charge clients for the work you do is often the difference between long-term success and eventual failure for the business. Many contractors look at estimating simply as a way to determine the cost of a project. In the traditional design-bid model of project delivery, this simplistic approach may work, assuming your sell price generates enough gross profit to cover your overhead and profit requirements. However, if you’re doing design/build, and your current estimating system is limited to only producing the number you charge clients for a project, you may be missing out on many other possible benefits.

If you think of design/build as a way of doing business, your estimating system must become a tool that facilitates how you do business, not just a way to get to the price.


A design/builder’s estimating system should be fast and easy to use. A computerized system should be used that allows the estimator to concentrate on estimating, not adding up numbers over and over again to gain or confirm confidence in the end result. The system should also allow for on-the-spot “what-if” adjustments. The estimator must be able to quickly estimate the effects of any changes or suggested alternatives to the project during design. By having this ability, the client’s decisions during design are better qualified by simultaneously knowing the financial impacts of those decisions.

Estimating should be accurate. To increase accuracy, estimating should be done so it is comparable to the company’s job costing system. Information within the estimate and job costing should be broken down to a level of detail that allows the insight you need to make future estimating adjustments. For example, it may be beneficial to estimate each component of an addition frame as a separate and comparable item, rather than to look at the entire frame as one line item. Estimating in one computer program, then job costing in another, may become cumbersome, or may not work at all. Accounting programs will often allow job costing, but not estimating. Typically, after a project is sold, a summary of estimating information is entered into the accounting package as a budget for purposes of job cost comparison. This limitation does not allow for fast estimating or what-if adjustments. Also, it may not be easy, secure or wise to allow the estimator access to the company’s accounting information.


The formatting of each individual estimate, as well as the overall estimating system format, may be the most important consideration. How information is entered into the estimate can limit or expand how it can be used or who uses it. Strive for a format that allows the information created by the estimator to be shared throughout the company. If you build your estimate the same way you build the proj- ect, step by step, you can create a critical path for how the project will be produced. This can be a huge benefit to your production supervisor and/or the project lead carpenter.


A predefined path, showing labor and material breakdowns, allows your team to predict and schedule resources including subs, material lists, material lead times, just-on-time material deliveries, and overall labor requirements. If done correctly, you can also use individual project information to create one master schedule for all company projects and resources. You will know when you need which employee or sub, depending on skills or abilities, and identify schedule conflicts or shortfalls before they occur. This critical path can help identify cash flow needs during the project while assisting in generating payment schedules.


Another formatting consideration is how you break apart the information for each line item inside your estimate. Rather than enter lump sum amounts for materials and or labor, such as total cost of wall studs or total cost of flooring and installation, separate the costs and quantities. By formatting your information in this way you can quickly apply what-if options for material substitutions, changes in room size and/or additional labor considerations for any changes. This also facilitates quick pricing updates when a client calls back two years later and wants to go ahead with the project. There’s no need to redo the entire estimate because you’re not sure how the lump sums were determined; just check for pricing changes as the quantity will likely still be the same.


Estimating in this way does involve more time for the estimator. If you are bidding on projects, this extra time can add up. If you are really doing design/build, you are typically only estimating projects that you know you will be building. Having the estimator create this information at the same time he or she determines a sell price eliminates duplication of effort, reduces miscommunications and saves a lot of time for the people who will ultimately use the information.


Shawn McCadden
Image by Photodisc


10 Ways To Manage A Rapidly Growing Design Business

10 Ways To Manage A Rapidly Growing Business

While some new business owners face the issue of not enough clients, others face the issue of too many clients. Both are serious issues and must be dealt with carefully. The goal is a steady flow of just the right clients.

There are many lists on how to find new clients. Here is a list of 10 ways to deal with a rapid influx of new clients.

1. Know the client that is right for your business.

Get really clear about your ideal client. This will allow you to be selective when there are too many business opportunities and you do not have time to accept them all.

2. Have a specialty that you are known for.

Specialize so that you get really good at what you are doing. You can then service more clients quickly.

3. Eliminate clients who drain you.

If a client takes too much of your time, that client is costing you money. Look for ways to predict who will be a time-consuming client and avoid them. Find ways to eliminate those clients from your roster.

4. Create systems to support you.

Examples are: a good business development system* that provides you with the clients you need, a good bookkeeping system to keep track of expenses and revenue, a client tracking system with a database of clients names, addresses, and other useful information.

*Even though it may seem like you have too many clients at the moment, that flow will stop unless you keep marketing.

5. Delegate routine tasks to others.

What are the repetitive tasks you hate to do but which you know are necessary to run your business? Many administrative tasks are easily taught to a support person and by doing so you make more time in your day to see clients.

6. Leave time in your day for reflection and self-care.

Doing the tasks of the business is of course necessary. Many get so focused on their task lists that they never have time to take a strategic look at the business. Putting aside time every week helps you to find more ways to work with the clients you want to. Leave some time too for taking care of you. This means making time for doctor's appointments, hair care, massage therapy, exercise, meditation and anything else that provides for your health and well being.

7. Set firm boundaries.

Don't allow a client to play on your sympathies and convince you to do something you know you should refuse (i.e. too time consuming, not your specialty and/or for free). Doing favors for others is not a favor to you!

8. Raise fees.

If all the clients coming to you are your ideal clients then it is time to raise your fees. This will sort the clients that are willing to pay more for your services and those who are not. Revisit your fee structure at least once a year.

9. Refer to others.

When clients are not your ideal clients or when your ideal clients cannot afford your fee, have a list of other business owners to whom you can refer.

10. Hire someone to help you do the work.

Once you have delegated all the repetitive tasks it may become necessary to hire another worker who does the work that you do to work with you.

By Alvah Parker
Photography by Bowie 15

Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys' Coach) and a Career Changers' Coach as well as publisher of Parker's Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website and receive a values assessment as a gift. Work becomes more meaningful and enjoyable when you work from your values.Parker's Value Program© enables her clients to find their own way to work that is more fulfilling and profitable. Her clients are attorneys and people in transition who want to find work that is in line with their own life purpose. Alvah is found on the web at She may also be reached at 781-598-0388.


11 Tips for Improving Your Designer-Client Relationships

11 Ways to Improving Your Client Relationships

One thing is true for all consultants; if we have any work, we have clients! One of the most important parts of our work is maintaining and enhancing our relationships with our clients. Maintaining and growing these relationships makes the time spent on a project more enjoyable, satisfying and effective. Improved relationships also improves the chance that we will get referrals and future business. The following are ten things you can do to improve these important business relationships, and some suggestions on how to get started.

1. Have a clear contract with your client.

This is the number one guideline for a successful client engagement. Without a clear contract neither you nor your client can be clear on roles and responsibilities, deadlines and deliverables, methodologies and measures. Beyond the importance of the contract to the project itself, a clear contract also is a great aid to a good working relationship. The goal of a contract is clarity, not legalese - as such; it is a great aid to improved client relationships.

Your mutually agreed to contract should include the following as a minimum:

o What the roles and responsibilities are for you - and members of the client organization
o What methods you plan to use during the project
o The project timeline
o A description of success

2. Get to know your client better.

All relationships are better when the individuals in the relationship take the time to get to know one another. Learn the client's interests. You will likely spend many hours with and around the client during the project. Knowing that they like gourmet French food or exotic candies or Oakland Raiders football is information you should know. This is more important to some clients than others, but all of us like to have conversations with others about our interests.

Make it a point to learn something new about each client in every meeting you have. Once you learn something new, keep track of that information in your contact manager, in your project notes, or wherever you can find it when needed.

3. Ask more questions.

When we ask questions we understand situations better. Take the time, make the time to ask your client how she feels, what she thinks, and try to understand her observations regarding the progress of the project and your performance. The skill of questioning is one of the most important we can develop to improve our consulting skills and our relationships.

4. Be willing to say "No."

In many cases, clients ask us to do things beyond our capabilities or interests. When these new requests are outside the contract agreement, be willing to say no. Take time to understand both the client's reason for asking as well as your ability to deliver. Don't automatically say yes, just because "the Customer is always right."

Saying "No" may mean keeping your project on track by not expanding the scope of the project. Saying "No" may also mean not accepting additional work that the client would like you to do. In either case, it is easier to say no when you have a clear focus on your personal objectives. Ask yourself "What is my business focus, both now and in the future - and how does this request fit into this picture?" More pragmatically, I have found myself asking if I would be excited by or interested in this new work. This is a great question to ponder and it helps me decide whether to say yes or no to a request.

5. Be willing to say "yes."

Sometimes yes is the right answer - and only you will know when. After weighing the opportunity the client offers you, the client will be grateful if you say yes! Saying yes often makes the client's job much easier. Saying yes can help strengthen your relationship with the client as well. The more work you do on the clients behalf, the more valuable you become. You know the systems, the people and the culture. These are good reasons for saying yes.

Taking on assignments that stretch your skills and comfort zones are another good reason to say yes. Remember the "getting out of bed in the morning test", ask yourself, "Would I be excited to do this piece of work?" If so, your best business decision might be to say, "We can do that!".

6. Be a problem solver - and a solution finder.

Clients hire us to help them solve problems. The more problems we can help them solve, the better. This advice is in line with saying "yes", and somewhat counter to saying "no", but worthy of singular discussion. Sometimes our activities allow us to see things that can be helpful to the client. Weigh these opportunities and when appropriate, help (or offer to help) the client solve the problem - even if they didn't know the problem existed.

This advice starts before you search for those problems. It starts with being observant, and understanding the big picture of the client's business objectives. Clients will generally be thrilled if you can identify areas for improvement - especially when you have suggestions on how to improve the situation.

7. Keep a professional distance.

Therapists say you can't help the family if you are part of the family. This is true for us as consultants as well. We do become more valuable the more we work in an organization, but we need to keep our role clearly defined within the organization. Even as we build the relationships that make us successful, we need to be diligent in keeping our distance so we can continue to provide valued and effective advice and expertise.

8. Refer to your contract to help you stay within role.

Experience shows that letting the client know that you are concerned for this "distance" will be appreciated. Without such conversations, the client may read your behavior as a lack of interest in their organization. When they understand your concerns about maintaining this distance, your efforts will be seen for what they are.

9. Stay focused.

Staying focused on your contract and on your deliverables is the best thing you can do to maintain and build your client relationship. Talk about deliverables and deadlines in client meetings. Showing that focus and then delivering what we say when promised , we build our credibility and enhance our relationships.

10. Be a learner.

Being a learner means being open to new techniques and ideas and approaching each project with fresh eyes. Few things will turn off the client more than you immediately snapping to a solution, assuming that their situation is "just like" five others you have seen. There are always nuances that will make a difference. Take the time to inquire about them, and integrate them into your solution.

The Zen saying of "be a beginner always" applies here. If we approach a situation as "Been there, done that", our opportunity to meet and exceed the clients expectations is greatly diminished. At least as importantly, our attitude will show through, hurting our client relationships.

11. Work at it.

Recognize that the client relationship is part of the job! Thinking about and working on the relationship will make you more successful in the current project, enhance your chance for future work, and make the project much more enjoyable. Not only that you'll get to know and learn from your client. Overall, a great return on your investment.

By Kevin Eikenberry
Image by Cruceru Cristian

Kevin is Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. Kevin publishes Unleash Your Potential, a free weekly ezine designed to provide ideas, tools, techniques and inspiration to enhance your professional skills. Go to to read the current issue and subscribe.


Never Ever Compete On Price

As a small business, trying to play the low price game is a losing strategy, yet ironically that is the strategy so many small business owners start out with. This is a fear based strategy which is the first sign that it is the wrong one for small businesses. A flourishing business does not operate with a fear mindset. It runs on a plan of positive self expectancy and of wealth creation and charges full price for its value. By utilizing the following six steps your company can start to flourish too by maximizing your profit margins and not succumbing to the temptation of useless and many times dooming price cuts.


1. Don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth.

The old saying, "You get what you pay for," is a commonly held truism. And perception is reality when it comes to marketing your business’s products and services. A flourishing business centers its strategy on value, and value by its very nature has a high price tag. When people see a high value, they expect to see a high price. If you looked at a Mercedes and then saw an unusually low price tag on it, they would immediately think, "What’s wrong with it?" So, if you proceed to tout all the great benefits of your product or service, your superiority to your competitors and your high quality or service and then slap a low price on it, you are planting this same question in your customer’s minds. What’s wrong with it? Contrast that with using a high price to differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace, causing you to stand out and have people thinking, "I wonder why they are so expensive, they must be really good." By discounting your price, you are sending the message to your customers and potential customers that your value is that of a jalopy not a Mercedes.


2. People like paying for quality.

People do buy high priced goods. They even buy the highest priced goods. Think Dom Perignon, Tiffany’s, Prada or Gucci. People love to splurge. They like to buy the best and spoil themselves. Being the low price provider is certainly not the only way to go. Of course many people go for the lowest priced item, we’ve all done it, but sooner or later many consumers get burned. They find the quality of the low priced provider problematic and they get sick of it. Or they get fed up with bad service, and decide it is worth paying a bit and have a more enjoyable consumer experience. When you look at how other top brands have positioned themselves successfully you can see that coming in high on the price end is not always a negative. To some people it is in fact a positive. This is not just a business to consumer phenomenon; plenty of companies that sell to other businesses have also taken this approach as a way to gain a market leadership position. Law firms, software companies, manufactures, consulting firms and almost every industry has one smart guy positioning as the premium player in the space and charging high prices and really delivering. There are also a bunch of low cost players trying to undercut him and focusing their pitch solely on price. Do you think the premium player is worried? Heck no, he is laughing all the way to the bank.


3. Take your focus off price and onto to value.

The key is to find out what you can provide better than anyone else. Make your value worthy of a higher price and then find the right customers who will recognize the value that they are getting and be willing to pay for it. Rather than asking yourself how you can beat your competitors on price, ask how you can provide your customers more value. People are pressed for time more now than ever before. Despite technology’s claims that it was going to save us all time, we are now busier than ever. Anything you can do to save your customers time, provides them with more value that they are likely willing to pay for. To many people time is more valuable than money because it is finite. Combining other complimentary services as part of a bundle, adding in additional accessories, delivery and pickup can increase your perceived value. While you should remain constantly focused on providing a value that does not need anything extra, adding time saving accessories can attract more of your ideal value appreciative customer base. This is not true for everyone. There are plenty of people that will drive out of their way and stand in endless lines just to save a few bucks, but are these the people that you want as your customers? Do you want the ones that are always complaining about price and trying to haggle you down and will switch to someone else as soon as they hold a sale? I think you will find it is much more enjoyable to have a customer base that appreciates and is willing to pay for value than one that frequents the blue light specials.


4. Put the emphasis on quality and service and the experience.

A good strategy for a small business hinges on your ability to competitively differentiate. Low price and high quality are incompatible competitive advantages. They simply do not go together. Quality costs money; hence the intuitive connection between quality and price. Most small businesses cannot invest in good quality and service and sustain a low price advantage. The economics of it simply do not work. As a small business, rather than trying to compete on price, you should compete on quality and service and compete for a niche of customers who are seeking a level of quality or service that the big guys are unable to provide. Even the goliath discounters like Wal-Mart who do focus on price are ultimately selling on value too. Their value is to bring an enormous selection of goods under one roof providing a one stop shopping experience with a low percentage of stock outs through a well managed supply chain, as well as a friendly experience, through their greeter program. You should focus your sales and marketing strategy on finding your specific niche customers and then accentuating how you are different from your competitors and how worthwhile your value is for them.


5. Use your price point to cultivate your niche.

Usually the people who have gotten sick of poor quality are your ideal customers. They tend to have higher income, and they have started to demand better things. They tend to be loyal and place a higher value on quality and those extra touches that are valuable. They are okay with paying more as long as they can be assured that they will be satisfied with the product or service. Sometime paying more helps them to reinforce the self image they have of themselves as a rich and successful person, or a big company that always has to have the best of everything. If you can manage to delight these people consistently, they will be your customers for life. After a while, they will not even glance at the price tag.


6. Ask what you can do to add more value and listen.

Give your customers a mechanism by which they can provide feedback to you. Before you add a new product or service or a bundle of goods, test the marketplace to make sure the value perception is there. Remember that value is not an objective quantifiable thing; it is whatever people perceive it to be. Customers that like you and plan to continue to do business with you are more than happy to give you their opinion on what they would be willing to pay for. Give them a quick questionnaire the next time they stop in and tell them about some service offerings you are thinking of adding and the proposed price point. Make sure you add in a healthy profit margin. Or better yet start a dialogue with a customer. When they know that you are trying to do more to aid them, they will be happy to tell you exactly how to do it.


Providing the best value to a niche market at a worthy price should be the aim of any business. Your business is guaranteed to flourish when you figure out that you cannot be all things to all people and you decide to narrow your scope and demand a fair price for your value.

By Elizabeth W. Gordon
Image by Andrey Kiselev

Elizabeth W. Gordon, founder and President of The Flourishing Business, LLC, is a visionary leader who has a passion for helping others achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and enjoy more of the best in life. With a vast and diverse background in many business arenas, Elizabeth regularly has the opportunity to share her business acumen with clients, large and small. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Atlanta and the Board of Directors of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Atlanta. She is an Accredited Executive Associate of the Institute for Independent Business (IIB) and a certified Life Coach.


Making Your Portfolio Work For You - Tips For the Interior Designer

When meeting a new client for the first time, your portfolio can make or break a deal, depending on how you use it to sell yourself and your design talents. Be sure your entire portfolio reflects your style and abilities, providing potential clients with a clear idea of the level of professional interior design services you are capable of providing.

Your portfolio should contain not only a showcase of your best work, but also be a collection of some of your finest designs and solutions from throughout your career. Of course, if you are a relative newcomer to the industry, your portfolio will be more limited than that of a veteran designer. Nevertheless, you can still create a portfolio that speaks straight to your talents and build on that base as your career progresses. Remember, your portfolio is an ever changing tool to be reinvented throughout the years as you take on more varied and difficult projects. Show them off! This is your opportunity to show a potential client who you are and what you are capable of creating for them.

Thanks to the progression of technology and the Internet, today's interior designer portfolios are not limited to the traditional portfolio cases or files filled with paper samples of the designer's work. Today's designers can amplify the impact of their portfolio by supplementing the paper samples with online photos, electronic images and even virtual tours of past projects. Designers can even create a portfolio section on their business website with updated project photos, before and after shots and even some "virtual designs" that they have yet to complete for an actual client.

How you decide to arrange the information in your portfolio is a personal choice, with some choosing to show a progression of difficulty in design work and others categorizing by design style or even type of room. Portfolios can give a general overview of your talent or offer in-depth information and detail of design elements used in a particular project. You can also use this opportunity to share testimonials from past satisfied clients.

Regardless of how you choose to arrange your work, it is crucial that the portfolio appear clean, organized and professional. After all, what client wants to hire a designer that presents an amateurish portfolio with messy loose, crumpled designs in no apparent order or theme? Your portfolio is often your first impression on a potential client, so make it a good one!

By Natasha Lima Younts
Image by Fotum
Natasha Lima Younts
Designer Society of America