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Corso Interior Architecture
Designing a great business
Attention to detail, close client relationships and highly skilled designers helped Corso Interior Architecture quickly gain a reputation for quality.
Founder Joey Corso, who worked for several other businesses before setting up his own in 2013, is passionate about architecture and design.
Corso Interior Architecture works with retail businesses, café owners and home owners.
“We create an interior environment through design,” Joey says. “A client will come to us with an empty shell and we will design the plan, the 3D space through form and function, then apply finishes.”
Joey views each project as a complex puzzle with its own story. “We believe in efficiency and feel that good design is one which solves a problem,” he says.
While the business was strong, Joey felt that a mentor with a background in a similar industry would be useful to help him make business decisions. After discovering SBMS online, he chose mentor Elizabeth Raut.
Elizabeth spent 10 years as the Victorian manager of the Australian Institute of Architects, where she worked on all aspects of running an organisation including financial management. Before this she worked in the health sector in a range of business-related roles.
SBMS is a non-government, non-profit organisation of volunteer expert mentors who give their time and experience to help small business. It is supported by Small Business Victoria, which refers clients to it.
Joey had 10 sessions with Elizabeth over 18 months. Initially, she helped with strategies to ensure that equal emphasis was placed on working with clients and building his business.
While Joey was confident professionally and had a strong customer service ethos, Elizabeth supported him to consistently achieve superior customer service.
“I reviewed the electronic presentation of his design process and capability statement and provided him with feedback, including how to use them with potential clients to maximum effect,” she says.
Elizabeth commended Joey’s communication strategy and helped him to identify what he could learn from working with a variety of clients and Council staff who presented detailed regulations.
“When I met Joey, he was ready to move to the next stage of growth for his business and his Business Plan and Marketing Plan demonstrated his plans for growth,” Elizabeth says. “He gave 110 per cent of his creativity and energy to the practice and maintained a high-quality focus.
“Joey prides himself on being a good practical space planner, as well as a capable project manager, delivering quality service and attention to detail and I encouraged him to push the design boundaries with his projects.”
Among other things, Elizabeth:
- helped Joey to identify what he wanted to achieve over the next year
- encouraged him to act on his growth plans, helping him grow more confident about undertaking new work and building good relationships
- supported Joey’s strategies to win new work
- recommended that he didn’t underestimate the time spent on projects and that he charged a realistic hourly rate for all aspects of his work
- encouraged Joey to draft a Budget/Financial Plan for the following year, providing the business with a solid foundation
- worked on an advertisement for new staffwith him
- helped with recruitment and staff management.
Joey enjoys working with the hospitality and retail sectors, so Elizabeth advised him to adopt a special design focus for each project to ensure he achieved the best possible designs.
“I encouraged him to extend his creativity beyond what he believes he is capable of achieving, and lift his aspirations and ability to a level of being immensely confident and proud of his work,” she says.
Joey has moved from being a sole operator with a casual part-time under-graduate to having a full-time employee and two contractors. “He is good at having conversations with staff to assist them to identify what they have learned and what skills they have developed since being with the practice,” Elizabeth says.
Since seeing Elizabeth, Joey’s personal and professional confidence has grown. He has noticed a large improvement in his capacity to find the best solution to manage operational issues as they arise, and in dealing with client demands. This has reduced his stress levels.
“The mentoring has been a vital tool in the recruitment of new staff, with guidance in decision making and finding the right fit for the company,” Joey says.
If he hadn’t seen Elizabeth, Joey says the business would have grown in a similar fashion but with increased stress levels due to indecision in areas such as client management. “The greatest skill learnt is client management and project management,” he says.
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