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LuAnn Nigara on the 5 Resolutions Designers Should Make This Year

LuAnn Nigara on the 5 Resolutions Designers Should Make This Year

Editor’s note: Small business guru LuAnn Nigara provides tell-it-like-it-is business education for tens of thousands of designers and creatives the world over via her popular podcast, A Well Designed Business, books, and speaking engagements for the National Kitchen and Bath Association, High Point Market, ASID National, the Design Influencers Conference, and beyond. In her new monthly column for AD PRO, Nigara will share actionable insights—gleaned both from her conversations with design industry pros as well as her 35-plus years running a custom window treatment business, Window Works—on the most common small business challenges members of the trade face today.  

As we kick off 2021, Nigara weighs in on the five business-minded resolutions designers should adopt to make this year their most successful one yet. 

1. Commit to reestablishing genuine goals for your business and your lifestyle.

My coauthor and interior design business coach Desi Creswell calls it “aligning your personal life and your business life.” You see, Desi often encounters the same challenge as I do when working with business owners: Designers have failed to consider their personal goals when creating their business goals. If you have a burning desire to be the next Amber Lewis but you are in no way prepared or willing to give up thousands of hours during weekends, nights, and holidays, that is a misalignment of your business and your personal goals. Amber, along with Shea McGee, Paloma Contreras, and others, have shared the reality of growing a firm that large in a decade, not a lifetime. Explosive growth like this is achieved with a plan and with a tremendous number of focused hours and attention on the business.

Conversely, I have known business owners who operate midsize firms, with several team members, and lament the loss of time for long weekends and lazy afternoons to enjoy their kids. Rather than structure their work and pipeline to reflect their personal values, they take on project after project and wonder how and when it will end.

Decide what success is to you, not what you think the world has determined what success is. Then design your business to achieve that. It might be a wildly successful $20 million empire, with national acclaim, or it might be a wildly successful $20,000 firm that simply pays for your family vacations and some extras throughout the year. The very core of self-employment is to enable you the freedom to live your life and run your business, on your terms. Establish your terms and have the courage to create the business that fulfills you.

2. Commit to being the expert in the room.

Success in anything is always in part due to confidence. Confidence is achieved through experience and education. We can’t fast-track experience, but we can fast-track education.

Create a specific focus for each month in 2021 and schedule the real time in your calendar to work on this focus. Two hours every week, half an hour every day, whatever you can realistically commit to. Make a list of all the gaps in your knowledge, the places where in conversation with clients, trades, or colleagues your stomach starts to tighten a bit. Then assign each goal to a month and promise yourself to increase your mastery in these topics. Resources to gain this knowledge include everything from reading, to courses, to mentors, to conferences and trade events. Examples to get you thinking:

January: Finally learn your finances.

February: Research an area of interest to you, like wellness and biophilia design.

March: Finally create a beautiful welcome package for clients.

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