Have you ever been tired of working for other companies and felt like it`s your time to shine? Or just finished architecture school and there is a determination in you to take on the real world. Well either way before you hand out that business card, you`ll have to get your firm properly established and give it the best possible head start.
Follow below our 5 pointer guide for starting your own Architectural firm!
1. Building Identity of the Firm.
Any good business begins with clarity of your goals towards the future. Goals for your architecture firm might relate to size, revenue generation, typology of work, or where do you wish to see the firm in a certain time period. It is important to begin with 3-5 goals for your business. They may include:
- What is the size of the firm?
- Do you want to focus on design work or managing the business?
- What type of projects/clients do you wish to work with?
- Do you want to sell the firm in 5 years?
- Do you want to build a firm that will provide you with an income for next 20 years?
2. Budget, Marketing and Development.
Most businesses in startup phase require more money than the average survival rate of a business. The amount of money required is directly proportional to the available resources and the type of architectural firm you`re starting. Before you start panicking, though, it is essential to sit down and draw up a preliminary budget. You might wanna think about the following:
- Getting a bank loan vs using your own cash reserves.
- Equipment/Location- keeping it to a bare minimum.
- Marketing- Spreading a word family, friends, acquaintances etc. Setting up a social media page.
- Buying website to publish and keep track of work.
- Budgeting to pay the employee and other assistance generated (e.g. photographer, draftsmen etc)
3. Setting up space.
Creative people need creative space for those creative juices to kick start! Hence it is essential that based on the size of your firm, aesthetic tastes, and location that you design an office/studio which screams the firm’s identity. If you`re a bootstrapping architect just starting out, working from home may not be such a bad idea. There are numerous advantages such as personal space, no commute to work, lower expenditure etc.
However, if the home is not a convenient option for you to accommodate a studio, you can always work from home and hire a co-working space/meeting space in the city to see the clients. While designing and choosing a location for the studio, you may want to think about the following:
- A prime location.
- Pleasant work environment.
- A good price and a solid contract.
- Basic amenities of a design studio such as desktops, stationary, furniture, resource library, etc.
- A space that speaks of your design principles and reflects your personality.
4. Workflow Management.
Managing workflow is one of the key components of any good business. Completion of projects on time puts a good word about the firm in the market. As the principal architect, assessing the duration of each job, to what stage it`s at, to who all are working on it in your firm is extremely crucial. There are even various software that help you in managing your projects, (One good example is the Workflow Management Software)
Here`s the checklist you need to mark while assessing the quality of your office:
- Time Tracking for all the impending projects before taking on new ones.
- Project Management.
- Creating Minutes of the Meetings, Invoices, and Final Reports.
- Collaborating with bigger firms.
- Participating in Design Competitions.
5. Get published, Get Noticed!
As a new firm, you’ll want to get your name out amongst the design community, and one of the best ways to do this is by getting your work published or sending it out for competition entries. Your final pointers for a successful firm include:
- Good architectural photography that matches the theme of your firm.
- Crisp essay explaining design principles and spaces.
- Maintaining and upgrading the website with new work, thoughts, design ideologies, the status of work etc on regular intervals.
- Conducting lectures and workshops.
Starting an architectural firm, is not a child’s play! The above-given pointers are just elements in very cohesive format, the whole process is far more intense! However, the journey of beginning is one of the most craziest yet rewarding roller coaster of your career!
Have you started your own architecture firm yet? Share your experience in the comments section below!
By: Arch2O internship team, Oct 2016