You may be a fresh graduate or someone employed by an architectural firm, at some point in time the thought of starting your firm will cross your mind. The mere thought of it might be quite liberating, being your boss, and designing every detail the way you want might entice you to say the least.
If so, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you announce to the world that your business is up and running.
1. Know the Art
Architecture is a blanket term that encompasses a range of design services, as an architect you probably know where your interests lie. Research regarding your stream of interests will go a long way in establishing your design practice. Having a specialization will help you focus on a targeted clientele; it will also help bring out the best of your capabilities.
Conventional ideas of an office are changing, be sure to explore newer cost-effective work structures. Working with remotely operating freelancers can be quite effective while a traditional setting can provide a better exchange and understanding of ideas. Work out your office structure which can give you an optimum cost to productivity ratio.
This might be a no brainer but financial planning is nonetheless a very important aspect. As far as infrastructure is concerned there a lot of options available today concerning financial viability like home offices, co-working spaces and rental spaces find the one which will prove to be a sustainable option for you. Apart from the infrastructure, you may be better off having a safety net as startups require a lot of capital in their initial phase.
You may have the best set up, the best employees you may even be the best in your trade but unless the world knows, unless the client knows there will not be any business. It is a digital world where there are multiple paid and unpaid platforms where you can reach out to potential clients. Make sure you have a marketing strategy in place.
Today much of architectural work relies on consultants building a strong network that will fetch you lasting allies. Also, a strong network among your social circle or even among your counterparts can help you fetch potential clients.
Set realistic goals for your practice. Know where you would like to see the firm in the next five years. You may not achieve everything you wished for, but it will provide you with a framework and a goal to work towards. Having a certain goal in mind will help you analyze and fine-tune your practice from time to time.
Well begun is half done. Be ready to see a slow start, be ready to pay your employees out of your pocket most importantly be prepared to take a few hits. You might not get the projects you are vying for right off the bat be ready to take things one step at a time. Initial days are the toughest that any entrepreneur has to endure, But accepting the reality will go a long way in keeping you grounded.
Architecture schools don’t teach you this, but this skill is as important as any when it comes to running your own office. You need to be a good manager, one who can manage available human resources, available finances, and workflow also someone who can efficiently co-coordinate with consultants.
9. It’s Business
If your business is not sustainable financially all your efforts and hard work will be an exercise in futility. Being very clear about having an architectural practice is not always designing fancy buildings, having a financially viable atmosphere is just as important. You will have to sell your work to every prospective client, make sure you are ready for the business side of architecture.
There won’t be a boss you can blame, you won’t receive your paycheque irrespective of the workload. You will be paid only for the work done. Be ready to have long working days, be prepared to burn the midnight oil if required. At times you might even have to work on holidays. At the end of the day if your work makes you happy all this might be worth it.