How To Start An Interior Design Business

Do you enjoy rearranging rooms and/or redecorating? Do you have a good feel for interior design? Do you have experience working with Photoshop or use it already for creating new finishes and room designs? If so, you might have the right skills and talents for becoming an e-interior designer and run an interior design business of your very own right from the comforts of your home.

The trend of online interior design is continuing to grow since it provides clients with an affordable approach to refurbishing and redecorating rooms. Rather than making a commitment to an interior designer for a complete range of services that could potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars, a homeowner can work with an online interior designer instead who can provide them with a master plan that the client can implement gradually as their budget allows.

It is also much more convenient to use e-interior design since clients receive digital room suggestions and files which means they don’t need to travel to supply stores or showrooms. Online suggestion boards are offered by many e-interior designers for color palettes and furniture pieces, in addition to buying lists for suppliers they recommend. This allows the client to be involved directly in the selection process from the comforts of their own home – which also allows them to be better informed on how their money is being spent on the project.

Tips for how to become an online interior designer

Know what the difference is between an interior decorator and interior designer.

If you have an interior design degree already and have been certified within the field, then you can market yourself as an interior designer and get your business set up for that. If you don’t have a degree, then you will need to check the licensing regulations for your province or state. There are currently 7 provinces and 27 states (including Washington, DC and Puerto Rico) that require a combination of NCIDQ exam completion, experience and/or education to be allowed to use the ‘interior designer’ title.

However, this regulation can be worked around if you instead call yourself an interior home staging expert or interior decorator. In contrast to designers, interior decorators may only beautify and decorate an interior space. They are not allowed to change the layout of a room (e.g. draw up a floor plan) or room structure (e.g. through removing or adding a wall). Although interior designers frequently work with architects and contractors, usually interior decorators work only with furnishing suppliers and clients.

Get licensed and incorporate your business.

Before you start to advertise your services and begin to work with clients, determine whether a business license is required by your county or city. If you are planning on working with retailers and purchasing goods at wholesale in order to resell them to clients, you will most likely need to get a sales tax license and seller’s permit.

Interior decoration and interior design are two kinds of businesses where it is best if you incorporate as an LLC at least. When you do this it provides you with protection from personal asset liability in the event you find yourself in court.

You will also need to obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) if you are planning on employing people.

Get a PhotoShop license and get your website set up with examples.

Here is where the fun starts! Buy an annual license for using Photoshop 7 or later in order to create decorative and design elements within business, residential, recreational and other kinds of spaces. You can take online courses at or read books such as Photoshop for Interior Designers in order to learn how to use PhotoShop.

It does take time to learn how to use the PhotoShop program effectively. However, it’s definitely a very good idea to dedicate the time to mastering it since it is the main tool you will be using to plan, drawn and showcase client spaces.

After you have become somewhat proficient in PhotoShop, you can use it in order to generate example redecorated and/or redesigned spaces. Think about spaces you live in or are familiar with already. How could you make changes to them in order to make them different, or more functional, ergonomic or modern? You can then upload your examples to your website and use them for drawing the attention of prospective clients.

Stay Up to Date with Current Interior Design Trends

You need to stay up to date with current trends in design including furniture, flooring, kitchens, bathrooms and window furnishing trends. For example. Currently in Sydney there is a huge trend in plantation shutters, they are incredibly popular and lots of of customers are looking for these. So by finding a good supplier of Sydney plantation blinds you can help your customer while making some commission on sales as well.

Advertise and start small.

You probably won’t be landing any contracts immediately unless you know somebody already who likes your decorating or interior design work. However, you can get started with advertising right away through using your social media accounts, your own website, and even posting flyers around your home town. That way, you can reach nearly everyone, ranging from a small business that operates out of a leased office or building to a college freshman who is moving into his new dorm.

What should you advertise? One possibility could a package deal that includes a board or table filled with potential decor, materials and furnishings, in addition to a product source that lists items along with their prices. You can add a fabric guide and color palette, along with a floor plan that shows where the lighting and furniture will go. This will be a good start for anybody who is looking for decoration and/or design ideas.

Make sure you join organizations like the American Society of Interior Designers and the International Interior Design Association. When you have a network of members to talk to it can help you with finding clients as well as scaling your online business up much more quickly than you could doing everything on your own.

Partner with local suppliers.

When you are an online interior decorator or interior designer it allows you to earn money from suppliers you promote within your product source lists as well as from your clients. You should get in touch with these suppliers to negotiate with the owners on your commissions rates ahead of time. Since you will be acting like a salesperson for them, you should be earning a salesperson’s commission.

Since all of this takes place online, and probably your clients will end up ordering their furnishings online as well, you might want to get referral codes along with standard commission rates to be used for in-store purchases. The codes can then be inserted into the product listings you give to your clients.

Or you may want to order furnishings as part of your overall services for your clients. That will reduce their workload, and also help to make sure that suppliers know who exactly is promoting their products.


Interior decoration and interior design have gotten a bad reputation among some due to their massive markups and high costs. This may be one of the reasons why e-interior decoration and design have become so popular. Since the services are a lot more transparent, and you can easily check the furnishing lists with what area retailers are offering, clients are not as likely to suffer from “sticker shock” and will be able to implement decoration and design changes as their budgets allow.

For the e-interior decorator or designer, that means there are more opportunities for working with clients, including clients who don’t have big budgets or live in rural areas.

When you go online, it allows you to reach out to different clients and work with whatever budget they are comfortable with in order to decorate or design anything ranging from a 50-room business building to a studio apartment. Clients can slowly but steadily become the foundation of your business by providing referrals to their associates and friends along with increased commissions from your suppliers.

Five Government Grants for Queensland

The Australian government offers support to Australian entrepreneurs wanting to start a business. Getting one of these grants can be extremely difficult. Each grant has a lengthy application, an extremely long processing time and the chance of rejection is astronomical. However, if approved, these grants can be a game changer those who are willing to take a chance on these grants. Let’s take a look at five startup grants that are worth applying for.

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme

In 2014, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme replaced the Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation and Investment Fund. This grant helps businesses increase their productivity and gives them a competitive edge by providing them with funding and access to a national network of advisers and facilitators.

The programme’s grants are funded by the Business Growth Grants and the Accelerating Commercialism Fund.

The Accelerating Commercialisation Grant provides up to 50 percent of the costs for a project. However, it should be noted that there is a cap of $250,000 for commercialisation offices and other eligible partner entities and one million dollars for all other applicants.

You can also apply to receive advice on your ventures by experts in the sector. They will help you learn more about running a business and how to maximize your profits through Innovation Connections.

Finally, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme offers funding for incubators that helps startup enter their respective global markets. Both new and existing incubators can apply for grants. These grants can be up to 50 percent of the project value and are capped at a half a million dollars. Entrepreneurs and expert in residence programs can net $25,000.

Research and Development Tax Incentive

The Research and Development Tax Incentive (R&D) allows businesses to succeed through a tax offset that encourages the development of a variety of businesses from large to small.

Companies whose annual profits of less than $20 million can claim a refundable tax offset of 43.5 percent. For businesses with profits more than $20 million, the tax offset is capped at 38.5 percent and is nonrefundable. Any non-refundable offset amount that is not used can be carried to future years. For R&D expenditures that are under $20,000, the company can only make a claim if the expenditure was done by a co-operative research centre or research service provider.

Applications can be done at any time; however, the company must register for R&D within 10 months of their first income year. To apply for this, click here.

Venture Capital Limited Partnerships

The Venture Capital Limited Partnership (VCLP) programme is to help draw foreign investors to Australian businesses to help boost the local venture capital market in the area with tax benefits. In order to be eligible, all funds must be registered as VLP and make high-risk investments for a minimum of 12 months.These investments must be in companies that are valued at less than $205 million and 50 percent of the assets and employees must be located in Australia.

The tax benefits for VCLPs include exemption from capital gains on profits made by the partnership, flow-through taxation treatment and the ability to claim any carried interest instead of reporting it as revenue. If you would like to apply, click here.

Austrade Landing Pad

The Austrade Landing PAD offers Australian startups a way to enter the global market through one of five innovation hubs.

Landing Pads based out of Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore or Tel Aviv can benefit from an Australian based market with an access to mentors, investors, talent and networks. In order to eligible, a startup must demonstrate a strong vision, be able to explain how Landing Pad could help them, have scalability, differentiation and traction.

Austrade provides a business with a number of free services and accelerator; however, the participant must fund their own accommodations, living expenses, insurance travel and visas. Austrade provides funding for global startups in Australia through their Export Market Development Grant. If you would like to apply for this grant, click here.

Export Market Development Grant

The Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) provides money for exporters in a range of industries to help increase tourism to Australia and outbound markets from Australia. Businesses that spend more than $15,000 on export promotions can get a 50 percent reimbursement for any costs exceeding $5,000. In order to eligible, the business must have promoted inbound tourism, held Australia events or conferences or exportation of goods from Australia.

Applications are open until midnight on February 28, 2017, if lodged by an approved consultant. For those who want to do it themselves, the application closing date was November 30, 2016.

Workchoices and Commerce in QLD

Commerce Queensland is a founding member and influential partner of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and part of the world-wide network of Chambers of Commerce and affiliated business service organisations.
As a Commerce Queensland Member you are an active, leading participant in business issues and are contributing to the overall success of business in Queensland.

Commerce Queensland’s Workplace Relations experts in conjunction with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and your local Chambers of Commerce where applicable, are delivering more FREE state-wide seminars, agreement making workshops and one on one consulting sessions to Queensland businesses.


The seminars will provide a comprehensive overview of the impact of the WorkChoices legislation, with specific focus on the practical implementation issues. We will advise:

  • Who is covered by WorkChoices?
  • Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard
  • Agreement Making
  • The Australian Fair Pay Commission
  • Secret Ballots
  • Role of the AIRC
  • Transitional Arrangements
  • Role of the AIRC
  • Right of Entry
  • Industrial Action/ Industrial Disputes
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Record Keeping Requirements

There will be 75 seminars delivered across Queensland. The seminars run for approximately 3 hours. To register your place at a free seminar near you, visit our WorkChoices Seminars section.


The workshops will cover making workplace agreements under WorkChoices, including structuring workplace agreements, including mandatory content, excluding prohibited content, and addressing the protected award conditions. Practical advice on making, approving and lodging of agreements will also be covered.

There will be 34 Agreement Making workshops across Queensland. Places are limited. The workshops run for approximately 2 hours. To register your place at a free workshop near you, visit our WorkChoices Workshop section.

One-on-One Consulting Sessions

One-on-One consulting sessions can assist your business with:

  • advising on type of workplace agreement that best suits your business;
  • review of draft agreements and transitional arrangements;
  • implementing the AFPC Standard;
  • advising on alternative dispute resolution procedures;
  • advising on record keeping responsibilities; and
  • assistance with drafting agreement clauses.