There are several traits that set entrepreneurs apart from those who live their lives aspiring to be entrepreneurs. Many of the most important characteristics have nothing to do with business acumen or working capital.
I believe what defines those of us who go ahead and step into the unknown of self-employment is:
- Belief in our talents
- Passion for what we do
- Willingness to step outside our comfort zone even if that means making mistakes along the way
- Commitment to not settle for the “same old, same old.”
On Monday I shared a quote about the need for new home stagers to push past their uncertainties and move forward in their staging business, even if that meant making some mistakes along the way.
Leah Fritz of Perfect Place Home Staging demonstrated her entrepreneurial mindset nicely in her comment on the last post by saying, “One thing that is nice about starting a home staging business is you don’t have to mortgage the farm to do it. Yes, you have to pull the trigger and commit to a forward moving process, but it can be done (successfully) with baby steps. If you do your research, think before you act, and invest a predetermined start-up budget wisely, the uncertainties won’t be keeping you up at night.”
Leah continues, “It may sound crazy but I made room in my business plan for MISTAKES. I feel mistakes are part of the process and an opportunity to learn. If I decided to close up shop tomorrow (which I’m not) I certainly wouldn’t consider it a failure. My staging business has enriched me as a person, and has taught me life lessons that I’ll be drawing from for the rest of my life. How can that be called failure?”
A fear of stepping into the unknown isn’t the only thing holding aspiring home stagers back from following their dreams. Other comments to my last post mentioned “paralysis by analysis,” wanting everything to be perfect before they started and taking a year planning their staging business without actually getting going and starting it!
I’m a recovering perfectionist so I know what they’re saying. I’m also a big researcher who likes to look into everything and know lots about a subject before moving forward.
Around when I turned 40, I realized that both of these were really procrastination tactics which were standing in the way of living my life’s purpose and having true satisfaction. I wasted 20 years of my life being “stuck” in careers or jobs I didn’t like because I hadn’t figured that out!
Why do we procrastinate when we actually know what we’re meant to do?
Because we’re scared of changing the status quo, the “same old, same old”. That’s normal but at some point you’ve got to ask yourself, “Do I actually want to do this or don’t I?”
If you do, then get going and do something rather than continuing to read, plan and dream about it.
If you don’t, then let it go and never give it a second thought. Put your energies instead on the next idea that is something you really want to do.
Just don’t waste your life sitting on the fence because it will never get you anywhere!
Nothing will ever be “perfect” and you will never have “all” the answers. At some point anyone who has ever started a business just accepts that reality.
One common scenario I hear about is not having the support from a spouse to step out and follow a dream. Sometimes it’s not a spouse, but a grown child or a close friend who doesn’t feel that starting a home staging business in this economy is a wise thing to do, or they aren’t familiar enough with the industry to get behind the idea.
My first piece of advice would be to ask yourself if you really need someone else’s permission to follow your own dream. If you do, I encourage you to download my latest free report:
Ask Staging Diva: Can a regular person like me become a successful home stager?
Once you’ve downloaded it, print it off and read it right away. Then, give it to the nay-sayer in your life and if this doesn’t make a believer out of them then nothing will!
Aspiring home stagers, I want you to ask yourself a simple question:
What’s the worst thing that could happen if you enrolled in a home staging training program and started your own business?
Think about it. The worst thing that could possibly happen is that it wouldn’t work and you’d be out your start up costs and the cost of the program which would be somewhere around the $1500 mark in total. That’s not a significant investment in the overall scheme of things, especially when you consider the feeling you will have just knowing that you took the risk and refused to settle for a life of “same old, same old” even if it wasn’t making you happy. Because no matter what happens, you’ll be able to take that lesson with you through the rest of your life in whatever you do.
Home stagers, did you struggle with feelings of fear as you were deciding whether or not you would start a home staging business? How did you overcome it? Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Home Staging
Debra Gould knows how to make money as a home stager and she developed the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program to teach others how to earn a living doing something they love.
Donna Dazzo says
Dear Debra, I am always the pessimist, but I do tell aspiring home stagers who inquire about getting into the business that they do need to have a year or two of savings to support themselves when starting out in this business. No one, well virtually no one (I don’t want to be absolute) is going to make enough profit (income minus business expenses) in the first year or two to maintain their previous lifestyle. Peoople do need to go into any business, not just staging, with their eyes wide open. And my response to their questions about starting a business in this economy, I tell them that for them starting a busines now is a good thing because it won’t get any worse, only better. Those stagers who had been in the business prior to the recession saw their business decrease in 2009. That was a difficult year for us. But the new stagers have only one way to go and that is UP. I do agree with Leah that even if I got out of the staging business this has experience has taught me a lot and enriched my life – after 30 years working for someone else, being my own boss has been fantastic and a great learning experience (kudos to you, Leah – your observations and how you went about starting your business are so astute!)
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva says
Donna, thanks so much for your comments and perspective, most helpful to everyone!
You’re right you need some savings to live on when you’re starting your own business, if you are the person paying for everything. I addressed how much you need to set aside in course 1 of the Staging Diva Program, “Cash in Decorating Homes to Sell”
The need for a bit of a nest egg is true of any business. How many restaurants or clothing stores have we seen do massive renovations before they open, and then they’re out of business three months later. That’s because they overspent before they opened and didn’t set aside money for cash flow in case the world didn’t beat a path to their door as soon as they hung out the “open for business” sign.
Fortunately, as Leah pointed out, we don’t need to invest much to get our businesses going. I don’t recommend expensive advertising campaigns or investing in your own inventory for example. Since we can run a staging business from our own house, overhead should be next to nil. In fact, most of the costs you incur should be your normal costs of living anyways, except now many of these become business expenses that you can write off against your declared income — another major perk of being your own boss!
Donna makes a great point that if you start a business in a recession, the only way to go is up! I started my first business in the last big recession of 1989/90s. It was the perfect time to start and I really cashed in on all the growth while my fellow MBA graduates were getting laid off and having trouble finding work. Instead, I was out there making my own work and being well paid for it.
Nicole Hurst - Cole House Design says
This is a great topic Debra! I think any new home stager, or really any new entrepreneur for that matter would have a slight fear of the unknown…it’s only natural. To start your own home staging business you have to have drive, you have to know that you’ll make mistakes but will learn from them, and that there will be ups and downs every day…but you’ll get through them.
Cole House Design has been in business for three years now, and I still face rejection from Realtors, homeowners, and non-believers all the time. I’ve been told my business is only a hobby, I’ve had people tell me I don’t have a real job, and I’ve been told “anyone” can be a home stager…I’ve heard it all. But every day I wake up and say the same thing “there’s nothing I can’t do today”. And running a business through a turbulent economy and a topsy-turvy real estate market and still coming out on top…has shown that I do believe in myself, and I do have the drive to succeed.
For those who are still researching this field, thinking about which home staging course to enrol in, or taking months to think up a company name…you need to stop procrastinating! Take the Staging Diva Home Staging Training Program, get the ball rolling, and just think to yourself “there’s nothing I can’t do today”!
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva says
Nicole, Firstly congratulations on being in your staging business for three years. That’s an important milestone to have crossed as an entrepreneur! Bravo, you’ve worked hard for your success and you’ll find it always gets easier the longer you’re around. That’s because:
– that many more people know of you and can be a source of business and referrals
– you have that many more staging success stories to share with potential clients to demonstrate why to hire you
– you’ve been around long enough for the naysayers to start to take you seriously
I also appreciate that you’ve shared the negativity you’ve had to deal with, because that IS a reality whenever we try something new. There will always be people around who don’t want us to succeed (largely because of their own insecurities and jealousies). Not letting their voices drag us down and focusing on where we’re headed, and why, is the key!
In amongst the negativity, there will be the clients who hug us at the end of a home staging consultation because they are so profoundly grateful for the help we’ve given them. There are also the calls and emails from clients who say, “you changed my life” and that’s what makes it so worthwhile (especially when we love what we do and get paid well for it too)!
Thank you also for that comment about my training Nicole. It is really very much appreciated!~
Leah Fritz, Perfect Place Home Staging LLC says
I’ve been a Debra Gould and Donna Dazzo fan since the onset of my business, so thank you both for your kind words and support. Sharing your confidence has inspired me to push through uncertainties and remain patience while I continue to build my business.
In regards to my investment in the Staging Diva Training Program… The year I started my LLC for Perfect Place Home Staging, with help from a professional accountant, I was able to write-off my Staging Diva Training investment as a start-up educational expense. I PLANNED my first year of business as a lose, so I could off-set my initial business investments… which included my enrollment in the Staging Diva Training Program. The lose actually helped my family’s year-end income taxes by way of business deductions. You can learn more about business write-offs by consulting with a qualified accountant. (Guess what… business consulting charges can be written off too!)
Bottom line – My business (like most) showed a lose it’s first year due to start up. But I’m happy to say that my second year closed with a profit! And I thank Debra, the Staging Diva Program, and the support of my fellow Diva Grads for that!
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva says
Leah, thanks for sharing so openly and honestly. I agree showing a loss on paper is a good thing tax-wise. I advise everyone have a good tax accountant who has a specialty with working with small businesses. They can save you a fortune!
Amy Bly says
For me, the impetus for starting my own staging business was getting diagnosed with cancer last June, going through chemo all summer, and deciding when I was done that I had a “second chance” to live my life, and I’d better get moving! I knew if I didn’t pursue my dream, I would always regret not trying. As hard as it is to convince agents to use me (OK, it’s impossible at the moment), the homeowners that use me are very satisfied, and I love this business. It’s a thrill to take someone’s house, feel like an expert on what needs to be done that they can’t see, and turn it into a property that buyers are going to love. I’ve only been doing this for 6 months, and I’m not “out of the hole” by any means yet in terms of the money I’ve put into my business, but I enjoy it, I’m building a nice portfolio, and getting testimonials, so it’s a learning curve. Any business takes time to market and build, and that’s my plan for the next year or two — other, more experienced and established stagers have counseled me to “hang in there, it takes time to build up your business through word-of-mouth and on-line marketing.” In the meantime, I continue to learn better ways to market myself and how to handle tricky staging situations.
Thanks for your comments, Nicole, I am going to try to put that into practice. I personally HATE making mistakes, so although I know we learn from them, I get paralyzed when I think about a client asking me a question and not being able to answer it or know how to get the information or find the right person for the job if it’s not something I do. I have my business registered, have my business cards, website, etc, and now I am just working on insurance, but I really need to get out there. I can drive around all year looking at houses on the market and writing information down, but until I start talking to realtors, I am guessing nothing is just going to drop into my lap!
Susan Atwell says
Did I have fears? Tons. Starting my business was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done – and I used to be a gymnast! Fear of falling on my face was always in the back of my mind – especially the closer I got to achieving my goal.
Three years later, it’s very comfortable having my own business. Now, when I break out of my comfort zone, I still have fears, but nothing like the ones I had to overcome to get here.
I too like to research everything. But you have to know when to stop. So, I set an achievable “go live” date and used the Staging Diva startup check list to prioritize and plan.
I also speak with a lot of aspiring home stagers. I try to give them the encouragement that I could have used. And I feel strongly that the Staging Diva training is the best first step toward fighting those fears and achieving those goals.
The secret to success is having a little talent and a lot of passion, drive, determination and the ability to overcome negative self-talk. I encourage anyone sitting on the fence to go for it. You’ll only have regrets if you don’t.
What I like about you writing this article Debra is that all home stagers can come together and talk about their difficulties and successes. It gives us a place to voice our reality and see that we are not alone. When we can see that we are not the only one struggling it gives us strength and encouragement to keep pushing through and learn from one another. So thank you for putting this topic out there for all of us to see what others are living along with us.
My business is just getting started, and yesterday I spoke with my first potential client. They turned me down because they first wanted me to come to do a free consultation and then as I followed the Sales Script I purchased from you, they tried to get to me to come that same day for only $100. I stuck to my guns and they ended up turning me down, and I know that will happen a lot, but something else came up in the conversation that I haven’t dealt with in the possible scenarios yet. They will have an empty house and they said they only wanted to stage certain rooms, because they are on a budget, so they needed to stage just the livingroom and master bedroom. How would you handle this sort of conversation?
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva says
Adrienne, good for you for sticking to your fee structure. Notice how quick they moved from free to suggesting $100!
It can be tough standing your ground when you really want to get a project, but I promise it will pay off in the long run because you’ll attract the right type of clients (the ones who will respect your expertise and want to pay you what you’re worth).
As for just staging a couple of key rooms, it’s mostly a waste of money in my opinion, because then you’re not really romancing the buyer.
Adrienne Lewis, little a staging says
Thank you Debra! My husband was proud of me for not caving in too! The clients were passed on to me from a contact at a furniture store and I worry that they will complain to her and she wont pass on any future business but I guess that is out of my control.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva says
Adrienne, You can still send a “thanks for the referral” note or card and tell her how much you appreciated her thinking of your company. If you want, though not necessary, you can mention that you didn’t end up working together because you didn’t come to an agreement on the terms, or something to that effect. Furniture stores talk to lots of people, who don’t necessarily buy right away, or ever. They don’t take it personally and know that it’s just how business goes.
Adrienne, little a staging says
Great idea Debra! Thank you! I will be sure to do that!
Kathryn Hilder says
I find these comments absolutely inspirational. After spending 35 years in interior design, I found myself out of a job and virtually unemployable. In one interview after another I was told that I was over-qualified for the position I was applying for. I loved design and was desperate to keep following that career, but was rejected again and again because of my age and level of expertise. Finding that I could start my own home staging business on a modest budget was a revelation.
Reading your comments, and those of graduates from your course has kept me going. There have been more than a few “dark nights of the soul” during the last 3 years, but, since starting your course last month, I feel that you have lit a beacon that I’ll be able to follow… to fulfilment and ultimate success.
I find myself stuck from time to time, procrastinating, fearful of making some horrible mistake that will jeopardize my business. However, when I go back to the basics in your course and re-read some of your articles and the comments from other graduates, I am reassured.
Debra Gould says
Kathyrn, Thanks so much for sharing your story and for your feedback! I have those “dark nights” too, we all do. I’m glad I could provide a “beacon” for you to keep pursuing your passion. One of the things that could really help you with procrastination is joining our monthly Staging Diva Dialog calls. These are for Graduates just like you and you’ll find they really keep you moving towards your goals. At the start of each call we share what we’ve done in our businesses over the past month. That alone gets many members moving to make sure they have successes to report. Often when we get stuck it’s because we have some small problem with what to do next. Getting clarity and having questions answered are often all it takes to keep moving. Plus you’ll be learning from everyone’s questions too.
Learn more about Staging Diva Dialog at: https://www.stagingdiva.com/store/#dialog
Lauren Ruhland says
Thank you for this valuable information. I enjoy getting your perspective on staging Debra:D