Deciding to start your own business is daunting for any professional, and the AEC industry is no exception. For architects, the main concern is shifting your attention from purely focusing on your craft to establishing yourself as a shrewd entrepreneur, with the business skills to make strategic decisions. As 19-year-veteran Mark Cavargnero put it in an interview with Architizer, “The big issue is, how do you get hired? How do you actually go off on your own and survive? It’s the part no one ever talks about.”
Tip #1: Don’t underestimate marketing your business.
Whether you’re a one-person firm or you’re already managing a dozen employees of your own, marketing is a practice that many consulting companies tend to overlook in their architecture business plan. It’s important to build up an attractive portfolio of publishable work and make it accessible for clients as soon as possible. This is a vital aspect of attracting leads and establishing relationships beyond your current network. Know more about our Architecture Services
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In order to do so, it’s important to be strategic about how what types of projects you approach and with whom. For example, it’s much easier – and therefore, cost-effective – to get a ground-up house published than a residential remodel . Looking for readily marketable projects will help you more than you realize in the long run.
Actively integrating principles of architecture and business often feels like foreign territory for architects, but Cass Calder Smith from CCS Architecture put it perfectly in an interview with Architizer. “I find a lot of us don’t use [problem-solving skills] for ourselves in marketing ways or creative ways,” he stated. “You should slow down every now and then and go, ‘I’m a trained creative person. This is what I do: I solve problems. So I’m going to apply that to my marketing situation.”
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Tip #2: Build up your network, then leverage it.
Some architects start their own architectural consulting company by way of working for experienced homebuilders and then using that network to start a business of their own. This is an ideal situation, because they may have spent years gaining a rich understanding of the AEC industry and creating a list of contacts to collaborate with. But regardless of how wide your current network is, it’s important to continuously liaise with new industry members who can help you get your firm where you want it to be.
This is especially important when it comes to non-designers. For example, manufacturers and real estate companies are a huge help when it comes to architecture business development – they have up-to-date information on which local companies are looking to develop new buildings for commercial properties.
Other important contact to consider are specialists in architectural technologies and construction documentation providers – we’ll talk more about this later on in the article. But the essential takeaway here is that connecting with professionals who can grow with your company is the best way to position yourself advantageously for the future.
A great way to expand your network is to join associations in the industry. Click here to see the organizations BluEnt has collaborated with over the years.
Tip #3: Think about scalability early on.
In addition to choosing marketable projects, look out for bigger architectural firms who you could partner with in the future. You may just be a solo consultant now, but the sooner you start getting your name out there to these companies, the better-positioned you’ll be. As you grow into a larger firm over time, you’ll have access to a wider client base who can scale up projects with you gradually. Especially if you have an expertise in a certain field, such as sustainable architecture, this works to both firms’ advantages.
Melissa Werner of CCS Architecture revealed her take on this advice in the same Architizer interview. “We let larger firms know that we’re interested in working with them,” she explained. “We’ll talk to a much larger firm that may specialize in something totally different from us, but it would make sense to bring us in as a restaurant person. That way we can have a small piece of a larger project, which would hopefully lead to bigger projects later on.”
Not only does this does this further establish your presence in the industry, but it gives you valuable experience for taking on larger and larger projects down the line.
Tip #4: Take advantage of CAD outsourcing from the get go.
While an expanding client base is a huge sign of success, it brings on its own challenges. How do you maintain long-term relationships with customers? Where should you invest resources for growing your business? Architecture business development has everything to do with how you answer these questions.
This is where construction documents outsourcing comes in. The CAD architecture benefits are two-fold:
- Outsourcing helps you take on bigger projects
- Outsourcing lands you bigger projects
First of all, outsourcing the construction documentation phase is often the most cost-effective option. For firms who carry out every stage of every project in-house, scalability is limited. Substantially large opportunities and peak loads can never be realized to their full potential, resulting losing projects to your competitors. The BluEnt CAD Studio works as an extension of your team’s capabilities, ensuring that you always have the resources to grow.
Furthermore, outsourcing gives you the competitive edge of having experts in architectural construction documentation available at your fingertips. BluEntCAD employs top professional drafters with years of experience in the field, specializing in the latest industry needs such as construction as built documentation. Alongside this, we use the most advanced construction documentation software to provide our clients with international-grade results. For architectural consultants, this means the ability to win out over the competition and approach bigger projects with confidence.
Ready to turn these tips into action? BluEntCAD wants to help. Fill out a form today to learn more about our packages and services.