Many aspiring stagers wonder if they should have a home staging business partner.
I don’t have a partner and haven’t felt I needed one in all these years since I started my home staging business in 2002.
The idea of working with a friend is exciting. The reality could be different.
In this article I’ll share what you need to be aware of before deciding on a home staging business partner.
These cautionary tales are based on the observations I’ve made watching home staging business partnerships struggle.
I hope this will help you avoid choosing the wrong business partner. Perhaps you’ll realize you don’t need a partner at all. Home staging is a great home based business and you can easily run it yourself.
Research Before Choosing Your Business Partner
Becoming home staging business partners is a lot like getting married. You’re tying your time and finances up with another person. For goodness sakes, Google their name, spend some social time together and talk to people who know them, before deciding to work together.
Obviously if you’ve been friends for years, you’ll know a lot more about them already. It’s still worth a Google search.
You might discover they’ve declared bankruptcy, or they’re tied up in an ongoing legal case, as happened to one home stager I know.
Depending on how long you’ve known each other, or how much socializing you’ve done, you might discover they’re perfectly reasonable when they’re sober, and turn nasty when they’re not.
I recall my second boss taking me to a welcome lunch on my first day at the advertising agency where we worked. Watching her knock back two double scotches before 12:30PM, I knew I’d made a bad decision to work with her!
Having a meal together is also an opportunity to notice how quickly they can make a decision. If they can’t pick something off the menu without 20 minutes of drama, imagine what it will be like when you need them to shop for accent pillows or choose paint colors for a client’s home.
This may sound harsh, but it really is worth considering how quickly a person makes decisions. If you don’t operate at a similar pace, it will be frustrating in many types of situations.
Go With Your Gut When Considering a Staging Partnership
If you’re seeing any warning signs, walk away. Perhaps there’s nothing specific, you just feel in the pit of your stomach this isn’t a good idea.
No matter how excited your friend might be about working together, make sure you have:
1. The same work ethic and availability
If your potential business partner has young kids and no nanny or friends/family members who can step in, last minute cancellations may be more frequent than you’re comfortable with.
Does your potential partner focus on the task/decision at hand when you get together or do they like to have a 2-hour chit chat first? Is your conversation constantly interrupted by a need to check their phone? If you’re comfortable with that, it can be lots of fun. If you have limited time, it can be frustratingly unproductive.
How punctual is this person and do they always follow up on something when they say they will? Too often I’ve seen partnerships get stuck because one person is always waiting for the other to get something done.
2. Similar feelings about money and income needs
Does your home staging business parter have a similar need to make money? If one of you considers being a home stager a fun hobby, while the other needs your home staging business to pay the rent, there’s bound to be conflict.
Do you have similar attitudes about what’s needed to get your business started? For example, you’re prepared to invest in a proper business logo while your partner wants to avoid any expenses, even if it will help attract those first important home staging projects.
If you’re not a great match on any of the things I’ve mentioned so far, it’s OK to say you’d “rather just be friends.”
3. An ability to address concerns openly as they arise
Back to my analogy about a home staging business partner being rather like a marriage, consider whether you’ll need outside help to keep your partnership running smoothly. Open communication is key, along with a way to resolve differences of opinion without either side feeling hurt. You don’t want resentments to build up over time. Perhaps the biggest benefit of having a partner is knowing someone else always has your back!
Biggest Problem with Home Staging Business Partners
Consider carefully whether you want to split your profits with another person.
Too often I see two creative people who love the idea of staging homes go into partnership together. Having a “buddy” makes it all seem less scary and you imagine all the fun you’ll have decorating together.
Aside from the various conflicts that can come up when working so closely with someone else, you’ll quickly discover another problem.
It doesn’t take two partners to run a home staging business or to visit clients.
If you both become home stagers because you like staging and decorating, you’ll likely go to home staging consultations together when one person would have been enough.
Then you’ll have to cut all your profits down the middle. You can’t charge your client double just because two people show up to do a one-person job. Not to mention, home staging consultations can even be done virtually by phone or zoom.
So if you want to have a home staging business partner, divide who will be doing what and make sure you’re not sending two people to do the job of one. It’s much easier to divide tasks and projects when you have complementary skills.
For example, perhaps one of you is great at finding the right suppliers (a topic I cover in detail in Course 5 of the Staging Diva Program), writing articles and managing social media.
And the other is better at shopping, color consulting and home staging. That type of partnership could work out very well!
Getting Help Without Having a Business Partner
When I need help on a home staging project, for example to help me hang artwork, roll towels or steam the wrinkles out of a new shower curtain, I bring an assistant on an as-needed basis.
I can pay them $20 or $25 to complete specific tasks. And bill the client $65+ for their time. So, I make a profit on their help and it saves the client money because my helper is way cheaper than I am!
This way I keep my home staging business simple and I don’t have to worry about splitting my profits.
And if my helper turns out to be frustrating to work with, I get someone else for the next project!
I answer a bunch more questions about starting a home staging business in this FREE Ask Staging Diva Live recording. It’s really like a mini-course in itself.
If you have any thoughts or questions about having a home staging business partner, share in the comments below!