Nigeria’s real estate boom and rising middle-class spending are fuelling rapid growth in demand for professional interior design services. This presents lucrative opportunities for skilled entrepreneurs to establish successful interior design businesses.
Follow this detailed step-by-step guide to start your own profitable interior design company in Nigeria:
Conduct thorough market research.
Begin by researching Nigeria’s interior design industry, including:
- Market size, growth projections, and trends
- Customer segments and their design needs (residential, commercial, etc.)
- Competitor analysis: number and size of existing firms
- Average service fees charged for different projects
- Common pain points for clients
This will help shape your positioning and offerings in the market. Get useful insights from real estate developers, architects, home owners, offices, and hotels.
Get proper educational qualifications.
While you can learn on the job, formal education in interior design gives you credibility. Pursue qualifications like:
- Certificates: 1-2-year programs at polytechnics and vocational institutes.
- Diploma/ND – 3-year National Diploma at a Polytechnic
- Degree: 4-year Bachelor program at universities
- Post-graduate: Masters in interior design, architecture, etc.
Joining a respected institution will give you access to experienced instructors, professional networks, and practical learning.
Get essential skills and experience.
Beyond classroom learning, develop key hands-on skills like:
- Design principles: space planning, layouts, color schemes, lighting, acoustics, etc.
- Technical skills: building codes, materials, and engineering details
- Project execution: coordination, procurement, installation, and styling
- Software proficiency: AutoCAD, 3DS Max, Revit, Photoshop, etc.
- Creativity: unique designs matching client preferences.
Gain experience through internships and assisting senior designers. Start building a portfolio.
Choose a Business Structure
Common structures for interior design ventures in Nigeria include:
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): Offers liability protection for owners It requires a minimum of 2 directors. There is no limit on shareholders.
- Partnership Firm: Shared ownership and liability between partners Needs at least two partners.
- Sole Proprietorship: Easy to register, but no separation between business and personal assets. The owner has unlimited liability.
LLCs allow external investment and safeguard owner assets, making them the most preferred option.
Register and license your business.
Legally register your interior design business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and obtain relevant permits:
- Business name registration: Register a unique company name with the CAC.
- Tax Identification Number (TIN): Obtain your TIN number from the FIRS for taxes.
- Interior design license: voluntary licensing through the Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN) adds credibility.
- Office location permit: from your respective state and local government area
- Operational insurance: Take adequate cover for your business activities and employees.
Create a business plan.
Crafting a solid business plan is highly recommended to define your strategy, covering areas like:
- Company overview and mission statement
- Market analysis and target clients
- Proposed interior design services
- Operational plan: staffing, office space, tools, etc.
- Marketing and sales strategies
- Financial projections: expenses, revenues, profitability
This will serve as an invaluable guide for securing funding, loans, and attracting high-quality talent.
Secure Sufficient Financing
Starting an interior design business requires substantial capital. Some financing options to explore include:
- Bank loans and overdrafts: Approach banks or microfinance institutions with your business plan.
- Self-financing: personal savings or retained earnings from other businesses
- Business partners: join hands with co-founders who can inject capital.
- Private investors: Pitch your business plan to angel investors or VC firms.
- Asset lending: Use personal assets like vehicles as collateral to secure loans.
Set up office space and infrastructure
Rent and furnish attractive office space, providing:
- Reception and waiting area
- Private client meeting room
- Drafting room with large tables
- Design workspace and storage
- Conference room for meetings
- High-speed internet, printing, and scanning facilities
- Utilities like a pantry, restrooms, and parking
The office location and ambience should align with your brand positioning.
Acquire essential design tools.
Invest in key tools and technologies needed for interior design work:
- High-spec computers and laptops—for 3D modeling, rendering, graphics, etc.
- Smartphones: for on-site coordination, clicks, and communication.
- Digital design software: AutoCAD, Revit, 3DS Max, Adobe Creative Suite, etc.
- Office tools: printers, scanners, projectors, cameras.
- Sample boards: for material swatches, references, etc.
Also stock office supplies, scale rulers, fabric samples, design catalogs, and magazines.
Build a strong portfolio.
An impressive design portfolio is vital to demonstrating your skills and experience to prospective clients. Showcase:
- Your educational qualifications and career summary
- Photos of completed residential, commercial, and hospitality projects
- 3D renderings, drawings, and sketches for projects
- Your design process from concept to completion
- Client testimonials and reviews.
- Awards, media coverage, and press features
Continuously update your portfolio with the latest projects.
Hire skilled designers and staff.
Recruit talented architects, drafters, 3D visualizers, and office staff.
- Design institutes and professional networks
- Classifieds websites and job sites
- Freelance designer marketplaces
- Competitor firms
Check your qualifications thoroughly. Offer competitive packages to attract top talent. Provide regular technical training for skill development.
Develop a pricing model.
Analyze your costs: materials, labor, and overheads. Understand the prevailing fee rates.
Typically, interior designers charge:
- Hourly fees for consultations
- Flat project fees are based on scope.
- Percentage of the overall project cost.
- Markups on furnishings sourced
Price competitively, but ensure healthy margins. Be open to negotiating pricing.
Design your service offerings.
Offer comprehensive interior design services for diverse clients, including:
- Living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms
- Outdoor living spaces
- Offices, retail stores, and restaurants
- Hotels, spas, and salons
- Hospitals, clinics, and labs
- Schools, universities, and dorms
- Space planning, layouts
- Custom furnishings, lighting, and styling
- Sourcing and procurement
- Project management and execution
- Renovations, makeovers, and refurbishing
Create marketing content.
Showcase your interior design skills and style through marketing content like:
- Company website: portfolio, design services, about us
- Social media: designs, client testimonials, blogs
- YouTube-filmed house tours
- Printed brochures and flyers, distributed across target locations
- Partnerships with home furnishing brands
- PR: press releases, media coverage pursuit
This content visually establishes your brand and expertise in the market.
Leverage digital marketing.
Actively market your services through cost-effective digital approaches like:
- SEO: target keyword rankings for searches like “interior designers in Lagos”
- Social media: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn profiles
- Email marketing: design inspiration and service promotions for the subscriber list.
- Retargeting ads: ad displays on platforms where users visited your website.
- Reviews and referrals: Encourage client reviews on Google and social media.
- Blogging: Showcase designs, styling tips, and industry insights
Actively network to discover new client opportunities.
- Real estate developers, construction firms
- Architects, contractors, and civil engineers
- Furniture and lighting retailers
- Paint, tile, flooring, and textile brands
- Hotels, resorts, and restaurants
- Design colleges and industry associations
- Luxury property fairs and exhibitions
- Affluent clubs and social circles
Focus on client relationships
Interact professionally with clients right from first contact. Maintain transparency over costs. Manage expectations and communicate promptly.
Try to fully understand client aesthetics, style, tastes, and budget during consultations using questionnaires and mood and vision boards. Provide 3D renderings and layout options.
Seek feedback after project completion. Rectify defects immediately. Request referrals for new business.
Deliver projects methodically.
Follow a structured execution process for flawless, timely project delivery:
- Detailed project briefing
- Space assessment and measurements
- Mood boards, initial concepts
- Layouts, 3D renderings, and lighting plans
- Design finalization, client approvals
- Procurement and installation coordination
- Styling, accessorizing, and finishing
- Quality checks and handover
Build a reliable vendor network.
Develop long-term relationships with vendors of:
- Furniture: modern, retro, custom, etc.
- Lighting solutions
- Flooring: tiles, timber, stone, carpets
- Soft furnishings: curtains, upholstery
- Appliances and plumbing fixtures
- Decor items, artworks, and artifacts
This facilitates prompt procurement and execution. Verify vendor quality standards. Negotiate preferential rates based on volumes.
Stay updated on design trends.
Continuously educate yourself on the latest interior design styles, technologies, materials, and global best practices by:
- Reading international design magazines and blogs
- Following influencers on Instagram and Pinterest
- Attending trade fairs, conferences, and networking events
- International study trips, expos
- Courses, workshops, and webinars
This allows you to deliver up-to-date, cutting-edge designs.
Consider Interior Design Specialization
While starting out as a general interior designer, consider specializing over time into specific domains like:
- Residential design
- Hospitality design (hotels, restaurants, etc.)
- Retail store design
- Office space design
- Healthcare facility design
- Sustainable and eco-friendly design
Specialization builds unique expertise in higher-value spaces.
Expand your presence nationally.
Once established, look to expand beyond your original city by:
- Opening additional offices in major cities like Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt
- Developing partnerships with local designers
- Running targeted marketing campaigns and participating in local events
A national presence widens your client base across Nigeria.
Diversify into Related Services
Leverage your design skills to offer additional complementary services:
- Architectural visualization
- 3D floorplans and landscaping
- Urban planning and space management
- Custom furniture design
- Event and exhibition stall design
- Office fit-outs and renovations
This strategy broadens revenue streams.
The outlook for interior design in Nigeria is very strong. By following this detailed playbook, your new firm can gain expertise and recognition in the market through sharp execution, customer service, and keeping designs fresh and relevant. This will provide a platform for steady growth and success.