By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!





It’s the time of year when you hear, see, and read about doing a year-end review in many different places. 

As a small business owner, I never really bought into what I was seeing. More often than not, I thought they must not be talking to me. 

And so my year-end reviews used to look like, “How’d I do? Were there any clients I didn’t like? How do I get new clients in the new year?” And that was about it.

That is not my finest moment….and I want you to learn from my mistakes.

I tightened the process up a number of years ago, and it has really benefited my business.

I came across an article recently where they asked designers questions such as, “What went well? What didn’t go well?” And things along that line. I went through them, and it gave me pause to think through those questions for myself. 

Not only was I compelled to share these questions, but also the transparency that these designers displayed. It wasn’t always like that. However, over the years, it has changed, and I have also come to realize that I am fine with being transparent and ‘giving it all away.’ 

 If you listen and read everything I have created, join my course, succeed on job sites, and impress industry partners with your skills, that raises how clients and industry partners see us as professionals in the realm of construction, and we all benefit from that.  

In the article, one designer shared how he took on clients despite the red flags that he saw not only in the interviewing process but also after the job began.

So, for him to admit that he ignored red flags shows that we are human. 

Another designer shared that they were overwhelmed with work.

Wanting to do it all, they took on every project that came their way, and that left him burned out with absolutely no time for himself. So his resolution is to take fewer projects and carve out more personal time and also to carve out professional development time, which I thought was really cool. I didn’t know this designer well, but I know he wasn’t new to the industry, so for him to say he still wants professional development is inspiring, and I believe every designer should aspire to do year in and year out. There’s always something new to learn or a skill that should be honed. This designer realized he was hindering his own creative abilities by taking on too much work, leaving him overwhelmed.

Another designer was comparing themselves to similar-sized firms.

It left them frustrated and feeling lesser than. I know I’ve been there, and the world of social media can be crushing. He shared that he stopped looking at other firms, stopped paying attention to what he was thinking he was seeing, and is really digging in and plans on digging in more in 2024 to what his own firm is doing. He is focusing on being the best firm that he can be, and that is really sage advice.

Another designer said they were having a hard time staying focused because they were taking on projects that just weren’t a fit.

What an amazing thing to admit out loud and in writing for all designers to see that they were taking on projects that they knew weren’t a good fit. I know I’ve done that and usually took it for the ‘income,’ but guess what? The income was never big enough to make that square peg fit into a round hole. 

Now, in this next one, I fell into the same trap in 2023. She admitted she let her client agreement slide, and it was no longer up to date.

Unfortunately, this designer learned the hard way that there were holes in her contract. Fortunately for me, I just realized it was time to dig back into it. I spent weeks crafting a new contract and having attorneys look at it, making sure that my firm was covered as much as it possibly could. That’s what she did as well. 

Another designer admitted she wasn’t hiring what was really needed.

She was hiring a lot of junior designers, but what she found she really needed was to overhaul all of her systems, so she hired a COO. And that made all the difference for her.

Another designer admitted to taking a project for income only, and therefore, it brought on a ton of unnecessary stress. 

Finding the right clients for you is a mindset shift. You have to determine by your standards, whatever those may be, that they are a client you want to work with. 

Lastly, a designer mentioned that they were not standing firm in the role of a designer with their projects.

You have to understand your role in the project. You have to educate your clients and industry partners about your role in your project, and then you need to be prepared to defend that position – that may be once, that may be a dozen times, that may be more. But if you aren’t sure about your position on a project, no one else will be as well. 

Get ready for a journey of introspection and transformation in today’s episode! Whether you’re a seasoned designer or contemplating your first year-end review, these shared experiences will encourage you to ponder the right questions, navigate challenges, and approach 2024 with newfound confidence. After all, success isn’t about avoiding mistakes but learning from them to make fewer, wiser choices in the future.

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