It has been six years now since I started my home staging company and decided to pursue my life-long passion for creating beautiful homes in Toronto. It was a big challenge and a tough call for me but I’m glad I made the decision, and I have never been happier.
This blog is for all the new stagers that have been reaching out for advice on how I started and how I took my staging business to where it is now. I know my company is still new and I still have a lot to learn, but so far these are the important values that I have learned, and lessons that have helped me in the last six years. I hope this blog can help answer your questions and help you to take the plunge and follow your calling.
1. Do not be paralyzed by fear
It is perfectly normal to be scared, but do not let fear stop you from accomplishing what needs to be done. If you have been contemplating for weeks or months (even years for some) about starting your staging business, don’t waste any more time. You will never be ready, it’s time to put it into action. Harness the passion that’s bubbling inside you and take action. Otherwise, that same feeling will make you feel miserable, stressed and depressed. The best cure for fear is action.
2. Patience is key
While it’s great that your company name is already registered and your website is up, that doesn’t mean clients will run towards you for business. Be patient and keep on pushing. If you’re not busy yet, this is the perfect time to plant the seeds, build your brand and to spread the word out there. Be on social media, network with other stagers, read and learn as much as you can, and join the conversation. One of the best ways to build credibility and to put your name out there is to start your own blog.
3. Do not let your limitations stop you
During the first two years of my staging business, I didn’t have a car because I don’t need a car to run around Toronto and it’s an expense that I can’t afford that time. As a single parent working a full-time office job it was quite a challenge. I would meet clients during lunch breaks and would do staging projects after work from my office job back then.
However, in spite of those challenges, I was able to pull it through. I was named the Best Redesigner for North America by Home Trends Magazine through RESA (Real Estate Staging Association), got featured in a magazine while doing projects all around town. The point is, no matter how difficult your situation is, you can always make things work if you want to. Be creative, everything is all up to you.
4. Your biggest competition is you
There are more than two hundred fifty stagers in Toronto when I first started, but that didn’t deter me or pose doubt in my head if there is a space for one more. I have never looked at other stager’s works or compare my work with theirs (even up to now) because I know it will scare the hell out of me especially when I was just starting. What I made sure though was to make each and every project that I did, better than the last. I competed with myself.
Comparing yourself to others is an insult to yourself and can take away the joy of what you do. Stop worrying about competition and focus on yourself. There are enough clients for everyone.
5. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
They say that if you want to have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you have never done. Running a staging business is more than staging itself. Staging is the tip of the iceberg; it is the fun part, the bulk of the work is in running the business. It isn’t always comfortable; you’ll encounter a lot of roadblocks, and you will always be out of your comfort zone. Learn to embrace it and work through it.
6. Build relationships and be a part of the community
Learn and interact with other stagers through social media or networking events. Established stagers can be a source of business because they are busy and would sometimes need somebody to give projects to when they can’t handle the volume anymore. Build relationships, be their go-to person. In my first year of business, my first three projects came from a stager whom I have met on social media; she’s busy enough to share the projects that she can’t do, which snowballed into more projects for me. This projects would not have been possible if I did not build a professional relationship with her.
7. Celebrate even the small victories
Small achievements and small victories will help you fuel your passion and can ignite it even more. Whether it be a new follower on social media, your first home staging consultation, or a new Like on your FB page, make a big deal out of it, you deserve it. Use it as a motivation to reach for higher heights.
8. It’s hard work more than glamour
Contrary to what you see on TV, showcasing a home and running a staging business sometimes takes long hours of work, planning, managing people, and getting down and dirty. It can be stressful and overbearing if you are working on deadlines. It’s a lot of work and is not glamorous at all. Your love for what you do plays a big role because this is what will carry you through all these hurdles.
9. Be of value to others
Financial reward is a great motivation for everybody, after all, who doesn’t need money? While I agree that making money is important when running a business (that’s why it is a business), it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor for jumping into it. Why? Because your staging business might not make money on your first two to three (sometimes five) years of business. If this happens, frustration will set in, you’ll see yourself as a failure, and your business a mistake.
Instead, do your best to be of value to others. I know it’s a cliche’ but aiming for a greater purpose on what you do by offering your talent or services to better other people’s lives is a more rewarding experience than just merely showing up and getting paid by the hour. As professional stagers, we have the opportunity to be a part of a life-changing experience for our every client. Truly help them first, and money will follow.
Lastly, have fun, take breaks when you can, and enjoy all your accomplishments with the company of your family and friends. Maintaining a good work-life balance is important to keep you excited, focused and prepared for more projects to come!
Toronto-based, award-winning Interior Stylist, Red Barrinuevo is an Interior Decorator and Principal Designer of Redesign4more Inc., servicing clients in Toronto and the GTA. The firm’s known for enhancing and creating stylish yet functional spaces through their creative home staging, interior styling, and design services. To know more about Red and Redesign4more, visit www.redesign4more.com.