By the very nature of their being, interior designers are often creative people who are magicians at creating beautiful spaces that people want to live in. Whilst it takes creative flair to successfully match fabrics, textures, and palettes in line with a client’s expectations, these kinds of qualities rarely translate to sharp business practices. However, in order to enjoy the independence, flexibility, and opportunity of running your own interior design company, you need to be responsible for your own financial health and take steps to protect both you and your business.
Claims against you or your business can be substantial enough to put you out of business. Whilst many business owners consider insurance to be protected against unlikely situations, it is prudent to consider that four out of every ten small businesses are likely to experience a claim, according to an extensive study.
This is especially true for interior designers who can be held responsible for any accidents that occur due to the products they have used in their designs. Take, for example, IKEA who were forced to recall 29 million dressers and chests after six toddler deaths led to class action lawsuits. As an interior designer, you could face similar issues arising from the products you recommend to your clients or failure to oversee the proper installation of the products.
So, as an interior designer with your own business, how do you minimize your risks?
Draw Up a Solid Contract
It is best to employ the services of an excellent lawyer in drawing up a watertight contract to protect your business. This can not only help to prevent exposure to lawsuits, but it can also help give your clients the impression that you are running a professional outfit as well as creating a bond between you and your client. It should include details of what is involved in the project, how it will be implemented, and the terms and conditions of the work undertaken. This should also include details of insurance.
Obtain Appropriate Insurance
As an interior designer, you are welcomed into homes and businesses and trusted to make good decisions relating to the design of the rooms inside. However, there is a wide scope for things to go wrong and it’s important to obtain a liability insurance quote to protect your business from lawsuits, including:
- Bad Advice – if a client can prove that the advice you have given was wrong, they will be able to sue you as their designer.
- Changes – Even the smallest change must be agreed with the client before being implemented. These changes should be agreed in writing to avoid any lawsuits being taken out later, however, the safest way around this is to have the appropriate insurance in place first.
- Scheduling – Things go wrong that are out of your control and scheduling is often one of the first things to suffer. A timetable of deliverables should have been agreed upon in the contract you signed when starting the project. Breach of contract is, in turn, grounds for a lawsuit.
- Materials – Your clients have every right to sue if the materials used are not an exact match to the ones agreed.
- Failure to deliver – liability can often arise as a result of a designer’s failure to deliver on the vision the client has or failure to deliver that vision in an agreed timeframe.