How to Start a Business While Running Your Other Business
My interior design firm, Bria Hammel Interiors, started on my sofa, helping friends and family design their homes while my infant son napped. I had a sitter once a week and that’s the day I met with clients. Friends began referring me to other friends, and before I knew it, the business took off.
Some years later, after working with dozens and dozens of clients, I started to recognize a need for more “Life Friendly” products in the marketplace. Considering that BHI was in its sixth year and that I’d (not so) secretly always loved the idea of having my own furniture line, it felt right to go all in on business number two: Brooke & Lou.
Juggling two businesses has been and continues to be a total learning process and, unsurprisingly, many of my most valuable lessons learned have come from both failures and successes. Nonetheless, I’ve found a few tried-and-true pieces of wisdom that stick with me each and every day.
Treat each business separate, but equal.
BHI and B&L are in very different stages of existence and I couldn’t have made the leap to furniture brand without being confident in the growth and sustainability of the interior design business. While each brand gets specialized attention, both still have collective goals and similar branding initiatives. That being said, it’s also important to set distinct annual goals for each business—some can be lofty, big-picture plans, while others should be achievable, measurable objectives set each quarter. Make sure to strike a balance between goals that will grow your brand awareness and goals that will drive your bottom line.
Keep the books clean.
It’s crucial to keep close tabs on monthly numbers to ensure both brands balance themselves out and compensate for one another when necessary. Understanding all things financial—or hiring someone who does—can be the deciding factor between success and failure.
Trust your people.
Big or small, surrounding yourself with a team of people you trust is imperative to running multiple businesses. You can’t be everywhere at once, you can’t make every single decision and you definitely can’t manage the demands of more than one business alone. Find great people who can execute your ideas, believe in your business and dream right alongside you.
Utilize the power of social media.
Take time to perfect your social media platforms in whatever way makes sense for your business. We’ve tested so many variants on how to gain followers and generate interaction. Sure, some weeks there’s no rhyme or reason, but most of the time we can actually attribute client calls to the number of daily posts, Instagram story interactions or our various influencer partnerships. Believe it or not, our social channels have become our most powerful tool yet.
Generate as many client referrals as possible.
Most of our out-of-state projects for BHI have come from directly from client referrals. Word of mouth from satisfied clients is a great way to generate more business—and with much less work on your end. Each and every day we’re grateful for amazing clients who have turned into some of our biggest advocates.
Travel. And then travel some more.
For us, traveling means finding inspiration. We get fresh, new ideas for projects. We meet new people. We find unique pieces that our clients will love. Plus, traveling keeps us in tune with trends and shows us the unique ways in which people live and utilize their homes in different areas of the world.
Stay connected with clients and followers.
Sharing our expertise, insights and day-to-day processes on social media allows potential clients to really get to know us and trust us before they make their first point of contact. When someone feels comfortable enough to engage with you, it’s a major success. But in today’s world, it’s even more important to make a conscious and continued effort to stay connected to clients and followers in any way you can.
Keep it Simple
Any time we find ourselves traveling to an out-of-state client, we try to keep it as simple and easy for them as possible. Travel plans (and mishaps), team coordination and any other distance-related project issues should all stay behind the scenes, so as soon as you arrive to meet with your client, you can put your best foot forward. Long story short: If you don’t make distance a big deal, clients won’t either.
When it comes down to it, there’s no surefire way to succeed in running two businesses at the same time. But with a clear vision, the determination to make it happen and the willingness to learn from mistakes, it’s more than possible to turn your dreams of being a (dual) business owner into a reality.
Principal Designer and CEO of Bria Hammel Interiors
CEO and Co-creator of Brooke & Lou furniture
As principal designer and CEO of Bria Hammel Interiors, Bria Hammel leads a team dedicated to designing beautiful, inviting homes for clients. Bria’s work has been featured in Traditional Home, HGTV Magazine, Lonny Magazine, and many others. She received the “Fresh Faces of Design” award in 2015 from HGTV, has been nominated for an International Design Award and was selected as a 2018 Style Spotter for High Point Market Authority. Her latest venture, Brooke & Lou sources and produces furniture and dÃ©cor.