We get messages and emails with this question all the time: "I'm really interested in starting my own Home Staging company, but how do I even get started?"
As three women from professional backgrounds NOT related to home staging and business management (accounting, marketing, speech therapy), we are certainly not experts when it comes to starting a company. However, over the last 3 years Olive + Opal has steadily grown into a decent little staging and styling machine.
So how did it happen? Some luck, hard work, and a lot of trial and error. Here are some key tips to *getting started.*
1. First things first: the boring stuff. Starting your own staging service is first and foremost a business venture. So the bells and whistles of the business need to be in order before anything. In all likelihood, you have the creative skills and know-how to stage like a boss. But running a business is a wholllleee other beast. And what all does the boring stuff entail? Lots of information gathering as regulations for starting a biz vary by state, lots of paperwork, some time, and some money.
An overview of items you'll have to complete:
- Pick your company name
- File for an LLC, or another business type, that will accommodate your need, with your state (legalzoom.com or swyftfilings.com can help with this)
- Acquire a retail sales license in your state
- Get state sales tax registration
- Get federal tax registration or FEIN number
- Obtain liability insurance with any major insurance broker
- Open a business bank account
- Create your staging contract that clients will sign outlining your services and protecting your business
This process may seem daunting, and it can be. Be prepared to spend lots of time online and filling out paperwork, or to pay a third party to help you. We recommend sitting down and getting organized (keep track of everything you spend money on for taxes, receipts, all service providers) and taking it one step at a time.
2. Next, establish your brand. Once your business is established, flush-out your brand. This can include developing your logo, website, and social media channels, and getting business cards. Enlist the help of professionals (or interns!) Keep note of things like the fonts used in your logo so it can be re-created later. You might also consider developing (or paying for) a website to display your work and advertise your new business. Compare paid website management platforms (popular options include wix and squarespace) and use one that is straightforward but appeals to your brand aesthetic.
3. Then, educate and network. Seek out staging trainings in order to learn the basics of the biz and become a more knowledgeable stager. We love The Staging Studio. And networking will help get the word out about your new company and hopefully get you a job or two. Promote yourself in any opportunity you get. Agree to help friends and family, and ask if you can document the project and get a positive testimonial. Be sure to document the project with photos! At this point, you are in the "fake it til you make it" stage. Also, get in touch with other local stagers. Attend professional development seminars and join local chapters of industry organizations, like RESA.
4. Procure your inventory. The items in your staging inventory should reflect two things: your brand identity and the kinds of work you desire to do. Your furnishings will be very different if you want to stage farmhouse fixer-uppers versus million-dollar mansions. It might also be a good idea to start small, like accessories only, before obtaining Anna and Melinda got their first inventory items at discount home decor stores, antique stores, and even their own homes. You'll also need to have a space to house your inventory, which may even be your own guest bedroom or basement for a while.
Items needed for a basic home stage (living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, bathrooms) include:
- accent chair(s)
- coffee table
- side table(s)
- dining table
- dining chairs
- bed-frame and mattress
- side tables
5. Hire your movers (or do it all yourself). Staging involves LOTS of hard work: carrying items in and out of a home, up and down stairs, and down skinny hallways to be placed, moved, and moved again. If you have the budget for it, hire some help (or your husband for free!) to get jobs done more safely and quickly.
6. Keep track of it all! Staying organized is such an important part of this biz. Keep track of expenses, where your inventory is, and project dates. Take lots of photos, and keep your website and contact info updated. And HAVE FUN. You endeavored to start your own business for freedom and flexibility, and you did it! Relish in that!
Please reach out to us with any additional questions you might have, we would love to help you. GOOD LUCK!