View This Year’s Mistakes as Next Year’s Lessons Learned

As you plan for the future, it’s wise to review your mistakes of the past.

Now that you’re looking ahead to 2018, it might help you to review the blunders you committed in 207.

What matters is not what you lost this past year, but what you learned.  Here’s hoping you learned to steer clear of sorry strategies such as these:

1/ Passing up Possibilities. Obsess over obstacles and you miss opportunities.   Help clients add value — and eventual resale value– to their homes and other properties. Give them design solutions that will reduce their energy bills.   Also, move in where competitors drop out.

2/ No niche. The most financially successful design professionals are the most specialized.   They build their brand and profits by reaching out to specific demographics (say, California’s luxury residential market) and offering appropriate services.   Sure they diversify, but only within their niche.

3/ Forgetting Your Fans. If you’re spending most of your time “prospecting,” you’re wasting it.   You’re seven times more likely to get business with a current client than a prospect. And, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.   Your current clients need you more than ever. Serve them.

4/ Falling for the Stall. You can’t afford to let customers use “This Economy” as an excuse not to buy now. Their procrastination is your poison.   Create immediacy by explaining how the current economy is exactly why they should invest in your services now.   Tell them how acting now will assure quicker delivery and help them avoid price hikes, say, for furniture, fabrics, and shipping.

5/ Asinine Assumptions. Predicting what clients can’t afford is bad business. How do you know what’s in their bank accounts?   You do clients –and yourself– a disservice by not offering your best design services and/or product lines because you assume they can’t afford them.   Present your best, before discussing the rest.

6/Wimpy Websites. It’s your most important marketing tool, but is your website securing or scaring away business?   It’s hurting rather than helping you if it doesn’t differentiate you, isn’t updated regularly and is too wordy and difficult to navigate.

7/ Flying Solo. Don’t go it alone. Align with allied professionals by trading referrals, exchanging client lists, and collaborating in advertising.   Hook up with vendors and suppliers, and seek their help with your website, seminars, and other promotional activities.

8/ Holding onto Hardship. Underachieving employees and unprofitable profit lines bring you down. Get rid of them.   Figure out what’s working for you — and free yourself from what isn’t.

9/ Giving in. When you succumb to price pressure and cut your fees, you diminish your value.   Your expertise is worth more, not less in challenging times. When customers question your price, question their priorities — other than the lowest price.   Remind them you can save them time, headaches and, yes, money.

10/ Giving up. What you face when the going gets tough isn’t a problem. It’s a test — of your will, persistence, and courage.

Avoiding or overcoming these business-busting blunders will boost your career, your business and your bottom line.

Fred Berns speaks to, coaches and writes promotional copy for interior design professionals worldwide. 

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