This week we bring an inspirational story from our longtime client. Find out how they have managed to improve their business and increase revenue.
The CEO of Atelier 01 architectural studio tells us about the difficulties they encountered when starting a business and gives strategies to overcome problems.
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Most of you have heard of the name Simon Sinek. Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably once watched one of his lectures. So start with why it is one of the editions in a series of four books by Simon Sinek on startUp, marketing, and business in general. In that book, Simon explains why most Apple users will never become Samsung’s customers, and that’s one of the best explanations for the emotional connection to the brand I’ve come across.
Igor Arch and his book Be Water – Basics of Dynamic Communication write that the time of complex campaigns that base their philosophy on the fact that if you see an advertisement for their product enough times, you are almost certainly a future customer. The conclusion is that we live in a time when it is essential to connect with the brand and the product emotionally. It is not new that shopping is more than rational. Rational judgment comes from the outer part of our brain – the neocortex.
The limbic part of the brain is responsible for emotions, behavior, and ultimately for decision making.
The sales funnel used in more severe marketing analysis is also one tool that shows in practice how important it is to connect with our customers on several levels.
You probably think that this has nothing to do with interior architecture, but I guess why I do this job is crucial in every business, including this one. There are several techniques and methodologies to clearly define the goals and purpose of your career and your life. The best book I have read on the subject is Success, Why Not? by Jack Canfield. Clearly define your why, so make it a part of every step you take. If something does not fit into your value system, – do not deal with it.
When I decided to start my own company, I told my husband that it would not be wrong to have a slogan with a logo. And intuitively, it sounded terrific for me to define a slogan that would bring us closer to potential clients. I remember that he immediately said we design stories, and at that moment, I was not overly satisfied, but we agreed that it would be our slogan. After a couple of projects, I realized that the concept idea, which they told us so much about in college, is by far the most important in the design process. In architecture, the more clearly we define a concept, the more flexible it must be so that it is possible to stretch and narrow it in a dynamic design process. I am sure that the idea should be the first step in creating the story we want to tell with the interior. That story is an experience in which each of the senses is involved.
In 6 years, we have made over 400 interior projects – residential, corporate; I have met many people and held countless meetings. My sales percentage is over 80%. Of the ten potential clients, eight will agree to work for them after meeting with me. When I became a mother, my family responsibilities increased so much that at one point, we concluded that I could no longer work on so many tasks. Until then, I was involved in marketing, sales, contracting, contracts; I worked on creativity and technical control, took care of the processes in the company, deadlines, budgets, etc. We tried to sell for someone else, but the percentage of concluded deals has dropped drastically. I knew and felt why my performance was good. Clients trusted me. And not because my persuasive power is strong, but because my work is loud and what I say is entirely in line with what I think and do. I do not doubt that my colleagues believed in the vision and goals of our company, but for some reason, they did not communicate it entirely openly. What I want to say is that you can’t fool a customer. Your body language, behavior, the way you speak – all this can be analyzed, and it can be very clearly assessed whether it is all in line with your thoughts and beliefs.
Your passion for what you do, even sell, is obvious, and it is almost impossible for the one across the table not to feel it.
You can skip working on many sales skills by simply doing what you believe in by basing your work on values that you feel are uncompromising.
Waiting for our ideal clients can take time, so I think that time should be used. You don’t have to wait for someone to pay you to make the best project ever – invent it, do something for free, try to use all the channels to show what you can do.
That’s how you build your portfolio. When I decided to open my studio, I didn’t have a single potential, let alone an actual client. While arranging the atelier, I did projects on which I practiced my skills, invented dispositions, modeled the villas I dreamed of designing in the future, and proudly showed my work. When I look at those words, I am incredibly uncomfortable and logical – I am not satisfied, but I had to start from something. Those works brought me my first projects, and that is their point. Each subsequent project was creatively better, each next production was of better quality, and each following technical drawing was more accurate and precise.
In addition to architecture, I am in love with graphic design. Since I know for myself, I buy fashion magazines and am fascinated by the connection between typography and fashion design. That’s why I wanted our logo to be connected with fashion and the world of graphic design. This helps me connect my future clients with our philosophy even before they make an appointment with us. In this way, we are getting closer and closer to ideal clients. Today, many young and talented people deal with brand design, and with minimal investment, you can come up with a logo that presents your views on what you do.
Many colleagues do not dare to take risks and open their studio or rent a working space at the beginning of their business, but I think that is a complete mistake. Your workspace speaks unmistakably about your approach and how professional you are. Of course, it does not mean that everyone will like this aesthetic and that someone will hire you solely for that, but you will undoubtedly leave the impression that you are thorough, meticulous, professional, and take care of your clients. And so, when you embark on your own business story, think about and plan a budget for arranging your workspace. It doesn’t have to be the studio you dream of; for a start, start with a small office that won’t burden you financially.
I’m not a proponent of that theory that we are what we wear, but I think that’s an integral part of our identity. So for me, fashion and interior architecture are different sides of the same coin, and every principle we apply in interior design can be used in fashion design. So that’s why I always observe what my clients wear, I often raise the topic of styles and brands, and I remember what and in what way they talk about that topic.
I’m sure what we like to wear is the story of the space where we want to spend our time.
I spend most of my working days in jeans, a white T-shirt, and sneakers because it is essential to feel good and comfortable in what I wear. I don’t have too much will to spend my free time thinking of outfits, but that’s why I try to make my purchases thoughtfully. The older I get, the more I lose my temper regarding low-quality things, artificial materials, and bad investments. Now I buy those pieces that I know are always in trend and effortlessly combined throughout the year. I try to communicate the same values in my projects. Quality pieces of furniture, upholstery from natural materials, and meaningful and controlled investment of money are the basic principles of my work. Therefore, train as you wish to leave and use the opportunity to show your skills of combining materials, textures, and colors.
Although the last, most important piece of advice I want to share with you who are thinking about starting your own business is: Your results never lie. I believe each of us is where we deserve to be. As cruel as it sounds – everything we’ve done so far – that’s our current result. The reason why very few people opt for private business is that the responsibility is great. You will make mistakes, both you and your team, and often, you will have to pay for those mistakes. However, I don’t think the errors are wrong, even more so. In the book How to learn from mistakes? Matthew Syed analyzes the aviation industry as the industry with the lowest error rate in the world. This is because, after each plane crash or any risky situation, the procedures and circumstances that led to it are deeply analyzed. Then it is used to introduce measures and improve the system so that such errors are repeated less.
I believe that we are not a generation that was brought up, so when we make a mistake, we should ask ourselves why and take responsibility. Still, very often, we find excuses and blame others for personal failures. The good news is that there are so many free ways to progress and work on ourselves. Ask others and more experienced, read, invest in your skills, steal knowledge, practice, take risks and analyze your mistakes. Believe in your dreams, and don’t let anyone, but no one, not even yourself, get in the way of those dreams.
Dream and fail big!
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