From Gail Doby:
My story may reveal what could be happening to you at this moment in your business. Your business model may be broken. Maybe you don’t have a business model, and maybe you don’t know that you need one.
I experienced my own challenge with finding the right business model for my lifestyle and interior design business, and as a result, I made lots of trial & error mistakes. I always wished someone would show me an easier way, but at the time
I was pursuing interior design full-time, I was not aware of consultants that could help me.
I learned a lot along the way, and those minefields brought wisdom and knowledge … and a new mission: to help designers like you transform their businesses.
The Challenging Journey…
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the world stopped… and so did my interior design business. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed with a cold cup of coffee… transfixed by the endless loop of TV coverage about the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. I called my seven employees, and told them not to come to work that day or the next or the next day after that. By Friday of that shattering week, I returned to the office feeling sad and scared.
In the wake of this life-changing event, my clients began to feel uncomfortable spending on design projects, and so… the phone rang less, projects wrapped up, and so did my business. I began to doubt myself, my decision to be a designer, and all the time I’d invested building my company. During the years prior to 9/11 I experienced many ups and downs; I often felt frustrated by the business and stressed with managing my staff. I often unappreciated myself as the business owner because I skipped paychecks more than once.
Eventually, I made the excruciating decision to downsize my office and laid off all but two employees. For the next 12 months, I operated my firm out of a small space I shared with an architect. During the year 2000 we reached nearly $900,000 in revenue. After 9/11, my drive to build a $1M+ firm was completely gone.
Then came the day my “right-hand” employee of 6 years told me she was going to start her own firm. And you know what? I was actually OK with that. Because I was tired and I was disappointed and every day I was questioning the reality of my business. That part was happening because of the two epiphanies I’d recently had: First, about how much “paperwork” was involved with my work, and second, about how “overwhelmed and unprepared” I felt even with my business degree and the business practice class I took in interior design school.
If, at this point in the story, it looks like I was utterly ready to redesign my life, and utterly ready to accept whatever changes were needed to make it happen … I was.
I made the decision to move my office back home. Not long after that I let go of my last employee. I was working alone. Again. I was back to where I started. I was a solopreneur who was working as many as 36 hours in a row to meet project deadlines. And around this time, I realized something very important: working alone wasn’t a good option for me.
So I hired another assistant.
And within a year, I hired Erin Weir, and the three of us were working out of my home. Erin began her career with me as an Interior Design intern after graduating with a four-year degree. Within a few short months, I realized had amazing potential.
Within a few months of hiring Erin, I also realized something else very important: I was much happier. I was a better manager because I analyzed where I went wrong the first time. And I was making more money, too. I found out that offering a Value Based Fee structure resulted in less conflicts over fees, and more time doing what I loved… design.
During that time, something else interesting started to happen. 11 designer friends and I met for a monthly dinner, and we spent hours talking about the changes in our industry due to the Internet and “reality TV.” We discussed our struggles and frustrations over the new consumer behaviors we were experiencing – how the clients challenged designers now because they could find products on the Internet for less money, and how clients felt they could do their own projects without the help of a professional.
I saw the writing on the wall: Our industry was in crisis. And by 2007, I started investing in classes to figure out what could be done differently – I looked outside of our industry to find solutions for our industry.
On March 8, 2008, I felt the world shift again… this time in a positive direction. That was the day that Erin Weir (now Co-Founder and VP of Design Success University and Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting) declared our big plan.
Erin Weir & I “Birthed” Design Success University.
By this time, it was clear that Erin was a leader and accomplished strategist. Her people and project management skills, “can do” attitude and willingness to work as an owner became clear. We developed our “big plan” to help designers like you navigate the monumental changes that we were all experiencing and that we had addressed in our own business.
In October 2008, we hosted our first 14-expert tele-summit. At that time, only 25% of (interior) designers had a website, and few were tech-savvy. We were fighting more than a changing industry and a challenging business start-up, and we knew it. We first had to help our colleagues get up to speed with technology, so they could access our classes and coaching.
We had a mission and a desire to help our colleagues, and we had a new path we were 100% committed to. But what we didn’t have was a crystal ball. Because if we did, we would have used it to “read” the newest round of bad news, and the next monumental game-changer. We’d have seen the economic meltdown coming down the pike. And we’d have made decisions accordingly.
But we didn’t have that crystal ball and today I’m glad we didn’t. Because we persevered.
With experience comes clarity.
Today, we have thousands of designers from over 76 countries following us. So many of those designers who’ve been following our programs are today experiencing amazing results. And, equally important, we now also have clarity on what business models can work for you.
Our members with the “right stuff” are doubling and tripling their businesses, even in this sometimes turbulent economy. No matter where you’re starting or what business challenges you face, or even what size your company is now, Erin and I want to help you achieve your goals.
Can we help you get there?
It depends on you making the decision that you want to get there faster, more easily, with less stress, more support and confidence. That’s what we deliver.
Please reach out to us so we can help you find the right path to achieve your dreams. We’ll share tools and resources that will make your journey easier.
If your business revenue (product sales + fees) is more than $250,000, we recommend applying for a complimentary Clarity Session to find out how we can help you remove roadblocks, increase your profit and work less.
We’re glad you’re here!
Some Of Our Clients
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Karen B Wolf, Karen B Wolf Interiors, South Orange, NJ
“I just wanted to say thank you for arranging such a perfect event in all ways. Every detail was considered from hotel selection to speakers to ample food. You have truly put together an outstanding venue that has and will continue to change the interior design industry.”
Klaus Baer, WRJ Design Associates, LTD, NY/Wyoming
“From one professional to another, I just wanted to say thank you, and that we both sincerely appreciate all that you are doing to help educate interior designers, which will eventually hopefully bring a bit more professionalism to the fee/cost structure side of the business. Please keep up the great work…and thanks again!”
Amy Wolff, Amy Wolff Interiors, Scottsdale, AZ
“DSUâ€™s Value Based Fees program completely changed my business AND my mindset for almost 3 years now! I had been charging flat fees for some time, but many would turn into â€œindentured servantâ€ situations with clients who just couldnâ€™t understand what Iâ€™d done for them. Now, my projects are profitable and my clients are VERY pleased to know what â€œitâ€ will cost prior to starting. Gail is so very generous with her time, advice and expertise. She gives her students the confidence to value their own skills and intellectual property â€“ and as a result, the ‘A’ clients also value and pay for that time. In a recent conversation with Gail, she told me to double what I charge for our first appointment.”
Sheri Kaz, Sheri Kaz Designs, Denver, CO
“I have learned some very valuable strategies and tips on running a design business from Design Success University. I stumbled upon them several years ago when I decided to enter this wonderful world of design full-time and it has been like manna from heaven! The founder, Gail Doby is a former designer with rock solid business savvy and she is all about helping us make money. It’s self-paced on-line business coaching for designers only – with monthly conference calls that are recorded, worksheets, transcripts, etc. The LinkedIn groups are a fabulous community where members share. I highly recommend checking it out.”
Molly McCabe Boysel, Molly McCabe Boysel Interior Design LLC, Westerville, OH
Michelle Yorke, Michelle Yorke Design, Auburn, WA
Valerie Garrett, Valerie Garrett Interior Design, Macon, GA
Randy Trainor, C. Randolph Trainor Interiors, Brookfield, NH
â€œFabulous! I would highly recommend DSU to any of my colleagues. DSU with Gail and Erin suits me and fit my personality the best. What is said about how we will connect with the people we are meant to connect with is true. Also, thank you for the personal attention and follow-up to the emails we have exchanged.â€
Lynn Myers, Harmony Interiors, Frisco, CO
â€œIâ€™ve gotten priceless information from: how to market my business to keeping me afloat during these tough economic times. I feel like I have a family that I can depend on and that has helped me survive the start of a fairly new business and has consistently given me the tools and confidence to survive.â€
Cynthia Taylor-Luce, Burlington, ON
â€œI just want to tell you that your Value Based Fees course is the best value I’ve ever spent on professional development, and I’ve only completed the first week’s assignment!!! I like the format and the way you provide the transcript and the action sheet. I learn by reading AND listening and wow, your style matches my own. All of this material will be things that I will refer to again and again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Gisela LaPorta, LaPorta Studio, St. Augustine, FL
â€œI can’t thank Gail Doby enough for her coaching online classes! Her Valued Base Fee course and the 12 Month Roadmap to Financial Success are a MUST for your business. I highly recommend you contact her and evaluate if her VIP program is good for you or any other alternative she may suggest. I attended Genius Exchange last October in Hilton Head and the experience was invaluable: amazing coach, amazing designers, amazing business owners!.”
Roxanne Robinson, Interior Expressions, Napa, CA
â€œThat Webinar was the spark I needed to move forward! Also comforting to know I’m not alone in my struggles. I am working on my 90 Day Plan. Thank you, providing these webinars and materials is so valuable!”
Barbara Pearlman, ASID
â€œYou are to be complimented on your thoroughness and the expertise of the information presented tonight in the Webinar. Truly outstanding! There was nothing remotely close to this when I started out…so, I had to learn these techniques by trial and error over a very long period of time.Â Keep up the good work; you are a truly an asset to everyone in the design community!!â€