If you have a passion for interior decor, and have staged a home or two of your own, it's only natural to ask yourself if it makes sense to go pro -- to start your own home staging business. 

The tug may be irresistible. You see homes listed for sale that lack the pizazz that buyers expect. Your friends compliment you on your own home's decor, and ask you for decorating or staging advice. Why not do something you love, work from home with flexible hours, and earn money doing it, right? 

Well, maybe. 

Let's examine what it takes to own a home staging business.   

Get that education

Getting a home staging business off the ground is as challenging as launching any small business. While a new restaurant or new pet walking service or home cleaning service doesn't have to convince its future customers of the necessity of eating, walking dogs, or cleaning a home, not everyone (even some Realtors) believes that home staging is essential. Having credentials and a website can help you market your business from the start. 

Most successful professional home stagers with a business of any size list certification by an organization like RESA, or can at least list design courses at a community college or an online program. Although there is no recognized licensing agency for home staging professionals, these accreditations look impressive on your website and letterhead. 

But you certainly can educate yourself without spending a few thousand dollars for courses and books, or flying to a major city for a weekend seminar (also big bucks). As an alternative, you can read my three home staging eBooks and follow this blog, including searching the archives here for any questions you have. You'll be able to read all the techniques you need to create beautiful rooms! You'll benefit from my years of experience in the fields of real estate, home construction, staging, and interior decorating, and do it economically on your own schedule, at home. Starting today!   

You'll no doubt be learning as you go. To start, you may have to do some pro bono work for a builder or Realtor, so you can build a portfolio of your work samples. Some beginners do PowerPoint presentations at local real estate company meetings to showcase their talents. Some beginners are able to intern with an established professional stager, especially if she promises not to crank up a competitive staging business once she's trained.    

Show your skills 

Besides learning the finer points of actually staging homes, as a business owner, you'll need to have some business acumen. Help is available through organizations like SCORE so you can learn from their webinars, connect with a mentor, apply for a loan, and take courses in all the nuts and bolts of running your own business. 

It's helpful if you are current with the latest digital technology, from social media management to communicating rapidly and professionally by iPhone and email. Hint: Have a separate Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest Boards, and email account for your business. You'll also need a LinkedIn profile that showcases both you and your business.

Be ready to Facetime, Zoom, and possibly make good video
tours for your clients. Photo: Kingston Technology

Because you're in a service business, you'll be selling yourself to other people, face to face. Home stagers need the right people skills --  everything from dressing professionally giving constructive criticism tactfully, and practicing empathetic listening, to reading customers' body language and greeting their dog for the first time

I've already blogged about what it takes to become a successful home stager. Check out that post to help determine if you have the personality and habits to be a success and enjoy your work. Don't make the mistake that others have made by turning a once-loved hobby into a business only to find it's no longer fun when you have to keep records, supervise employees, cater to clients, and maintain a full schedule to cover costs. 

Basic bookkeeping skills are a must for any small business. As your responsibilities grow, some of these tasks like invoicing and tax preparation can be delegated to others. 

Where is the money?

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block that new home stagers face is having the capital to build inventory. You can learn about the problems other home stagers face by joining the Facebook group for home stagers. Although not ideal, a common solution for beginners is to use some of your own furniture, buy some second-hand pieces, and rent the rest of what you need. In some metropolitan areas, there are companies that rent upscale furniture exclusively for home staging. 

You'll have other start-up costs as well. You might need to rent storage space. You will have to hire a truck if you don't own the right vehicle for transporting bulky furniture and supplies. Other typical expenses are website creation and hosting, insurance, taxes, office supplies and equipment, day labor, and travel.

Most new businesses don't begin turning a profit until after the second or third year, so plan on having a financial support system before you quit your day job.      

Define your business 

As a stager, you're not expected to do major renovations like gutting a bathroom and rebuilding it, or replacing flooring, but ideally you will gain contacts with quality tradespeople and companies you can recommend or hire. You also aren't expected to overhaul exterior features like roofing or landscaping. Home stagers usually limit their area to interior work, plus extensions of the living space such as porches and patios, so that's a plus. 

You could also limit your services to consultations only, or staging only occupied homes with the home owner's belongings.     

It's helpful if you have software to demonstrate to clients how rooms
could look after you have staged them. Photo: Home Design 3-D. 

Lest I discourage you from launching your home staging career, I want to point out its benefits. Many women have made a success and lots of money in this profession. There is a certain amount of status and respect it can earn you. I give entrepreneurship a big thumbs up, where you can create your own goals and schedules, and work style. As long as you begin the journey with eyes wide open, home staging is a wonderful opportunity to help others, to share your talents, and to create an income.