Anna Palmer recently turned her hand to interior design after working at ING as a Desk Top Publisher for 11 years. Two years ago, after completing her diploma in interior design, she set up her business Anna Palmer Interiors, with Bathroom Heaven being her primary client. Her eye for detail and knowledge has become highly sought after, with publishing giants such as London Metro and Huffington Post publishing her work. So where did her desire to start up her own business come from and what is her advice for others changing direction? We asked her about her career story.
What made you decide to work for yourself?
For me, it was about the freedom to work when and how I liked. I tried to get an internship in my field of work but it didn’t materialise, this made me feel even more strongly that I should go it alone.
The process of trying to get an internship was a particular challenge for me which I had to learn from quickly. Often, unpaid work experience is the first port of call you think of when exploring a new career path or taking your first steps in an industry. I applied for well over 20 companies and offered my services for free, or even just to watch and learn. Failing to find any traction there was a little demoralising and looking back on it, I think it could have been easy to be discouraged by that point. I gave myself some encouragement and was determined to not look back with any regret.
Instead of looking at unpaid internships I simply looked to have faith in my existing skill set and began to work on getting my own clients and producing great work. Getting to know my clients well has been key in allowing me to further my skills and achieve the results they’re looking for. There have been times when I’ve felt way in over my head, but there are other times I’m incredibly grateful that I made the decision that I did and am proud to look back on my achievements. It’s been a very interesting and perhaps unconventional road to becoming an interior designer.
What are your top 3 dos and don’ts for following a small business path?
- Do make a plan of action. It’s important to have goals to drive momentum. The action plan may change over time but the main thing is that you have a starting block.
- Do challenge yourself. Saying yes to a job you’re not sure about will push you further, and learning on the job is a sure way of learning quickly.
- Do take time out to re-evaluate where you are. Don’t be afraid to change direction if you feel that’s the right thing to do. Starting your own business will mean having to make a lot of decisions that you must believe in.
- Don’t get too upset when things don’t go quite the way you had planned. This is a big learning curve and the mistakes we make help us to do better the next time.
- Don’t work yourself to the bone. Taking time out is important especially when the going gets tough. It helps to give a sense of perspective and helps to clear the mind.
- Don’t spend money unnecessarily. Make do with the technology you already have, use your home as an office and invest in what you need wisely. Remember to write down all your business expenses so that you have a record for the tax man! Do this as you go along and it won’t be too much of a headache when it’s needed.
What advice would you give yourself if you were 21 again?
Take on board what other people say but make sure you believe in the decisions you make. Don’t sweat the small stuff, this just wastes time and energy. Set yourself boundaries because no-one else will do it for you. If you feel the work mounting up and don’t feel you have the capacity to get it all done in the timeframe you’ve allowed, let people know your new terms; communication is key. Push yourself, believe in yourself and enjoy the process!