Next Step, Level Up

I say that I want to take my business to the next level, thinking that I know what the next level actually is.  What if the next level is not up but across or out? What if it’s another platform rather that a vertical stair?

As I observe the many changes in the home furnishings and interior design industries, and try to anticipate the next wave and what the new blue ocean versus the red sea is, I am challenged to be open and not ‘know’  what that’s going to look like.  I am challenged to be thinking differently about what I do and offer and to whom I offer it, and to stay relevant and available at the same time.

And I say this because I am in the same place as many of you as you look at your businesses and how you have run them in the past, and even WHAT your business was and has evolved to now….and as you are, I am also looking up the road and resisting the pull to return to the past.  It’s gone but remains a tempting tug that can keep us from taking the next step FORWARD.

Tell me….what are you doing to keep your business moving ahead?  What are you afraid of and excited about?

6 thoughts on “Next Step, Level Up

  1. Great information, Jody,….as always! At this point in our Economy, I’m just happy to be “on the road,”…….sometimes turning at the fork-in-the-road,…but staying on the road nonetheless. I value each and EVERY new job I get,…and, as you advised me (more than once), I LISTEN to my clients’ needs and work hard to convince them that MY skills are worth paying-for. I’m AWARE (sometimes fearful) that another 9-11 could destroy what we all work for so passionately,….but my EXICITEMENT about the career I have chosen,…and how I can CHANGE to stay “on-course,”…even at my age,….helps keep the “doom and gloom” that so many have (and share) at bay. Stay positive; GO WITH YOUR PASSION!………and be open to the NEWNESS in our World! ….Mark.

    • Thanks, Mark. It’s a new wold that requires new skills and ways of thinking, including who are we and what do we do (best)? Thanks for YOUR perspective…always valuable, always on target.

  2. Hi Jody! In answer to 1st question, I’m finding the best way to keep moving ahead is to constantly research trade publications and reviewing “looks” that our clients are seeing online or in magazines or TV. This is VERY time consuming! (Because, like most designers, I want to look at products, ideas, etc all day!!) I like to “work” with velocity! What if a designer only has time for one, all-inclusive venue for research? What would recommend? Does it exist?
    Your 2nd paragraph hit home… I’m finding the biggest challenge is… client’s are “all over the board” … There are so many avenues for them to veer down that they can’t reel it in and make a decision, so they don’t decide, primarily due to overwhelm, or so it seems. When advising them and presenting a plan to meet (or exceed) their needs and desires, and just when you think the presentation is right on target, they throw in statements indicating they want to wait after all, or aren’t quite satisfied, or feel something is missing… yada, yada, yada. It’s like they “think the grass is greener on the other side”. This is a small percentage of clients, but enough that it’s worth writing about… and maybe others are in the same boat. I can hear your voice right now stating “ASK the right questions, get the right answers!” (big smile!) What advice do you have, or what techniques do you use to keep them focused on the current presentation and getting that “can’t decide” customer to commit and close?!

    • Thanks, Lynne. I think there is a conflicting duality at work here with clients. On the one hand, we are happy and excited to have a new opportunity and want to get started, and on the other hand we need to slow down and yes, you guessed it, ASK QUESTIONS that will tell us where the buyer is in their buying process. We do that so that we can either go hand and hand with them through their process or lead them through it. We have to ask the questions that will have us know what they expect, what they have already decided, and ANY other area that
      we know we will get stuck in if we don’t find out first. We know what the obstacles are, we know and can anticipate where they can start to retreat or get squirrely with us. And we know that knowing makes no difference unless we ask the questions that we need to ask and use their answers as part of our pact, our agreement, our commitment to each other and how we will honor each other and work together. We’ve gotta lead them, Lynne. We can’t let them lead us and the process and then complain about where they’ve taken us. Love you….

  3. I am always looking at new, creatve way to convey to the consumer the value of having me as part of their design team. Recently, there has been an EXPLOSION of new construction in the town in which my studio is located. As I am watching these high end homes come out of the ground, I am thinking how much someone out there needs me! I came up with a clever, catchy brouchure geared towards the builder/architect and set out to the job sites. In 5 houses, I met a project manager, builder and an architect (the other two houses had only trades people onsite). The brochure was very well received! While, surprisingly in this economy, these houses are being built on spec, I have expanded my network and had the opportunity to “talk the talk ” in person that would never have the same effect over the phone!

    I now how a new marketing tool to use with my networking group. Just this week my “audio guys” called me to meet a client who is doing a home theater. The feed back they gave me from the husband from my call was “amen, we really need someone like her to help us with all of these overwhelming decisions!”. The audio guys, along with my other networking buddies, love my brochure. They now have a supply too!

    I see my move as a vertical step. I often send letters, postcards, eblasts to the trade and potential clients as well. This construction activity in my back yard has inspired me to develop a new marketing tool for my tool box and hit the road. This week I will be stopping back to see the progress my new friends are making, pay them a few compliments, take the opportunity to demonstrate my apitute on a job site and the reiterate value of a designer as part of the team! I am very excited at the possibilities ahead!

    Thank you, as always Jody, for inspiring us, challenging us and sharing the insights you collect from us! You are a treasure to a designer!

    • Suzette –
      Fabulous work! There is NO substitute for just going out and meeting people. Technology and written communication support and maintain the relationship but the first, face to face meeting is critical for building business partnerships. Congratulations to you for the courage and creativity to go get it! Please keep me posted – I’d love to hear how this directions is going for you. Cheers and love, Jody

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