Essential steps to take when opening your own architecture firm, Architecture office guide, Building designers studio tips
When Opening Your Own Architecture Firm Guide
18 Oct 2022
Taking the leap to become your own boss and start your own architecture firm can be daunting, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Understanding how to make the most of the opportunity and build a thriving business is critical, so you’ll need to do plenty of planning and preparation to ensure your business has the best chance of success.
It can help to get tips and advice from other business owners, particularly those that have made a successful transition from employee to business owner. Networking is essential in any industry, and architecture is no different. You’ll also need to learn all you can about being the best possible business leader, managing employees, and getting the financial side of things right.
12 Essential Steps To Take When Opening Your Own Architecture Firm
Get The Right Qualifications
Naturally, to be a practising architect, you’ll need the proper qualifications. Firstly, you’ll need a degree in a recognised subject approved by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). After that, you’ll need a combination of experience and additional courses to become a fully qualified and accredited architect. Many aspiring architects work in an architecture firm while they work their way to qualified status, so this may be a beneficial route before opening your own business.
Write A Business Plan
Any new business needs a business plan, and yours will need to have a strong financial element and detail the steps you’ll need to take to make your business successful. There are templates available online to help you draft and fill out your business plan, but you should never use a proforma plan – always tailor it fully to your own business. You could also seek guidance from a business advisor to help you write a top-quality business plan.
Look For Financing
For initial costs like setting up your office and buying supplies and materials, you’ll need funding to get things going. There are a few ways you can get funding, and you’ll need to choose the option that works best for you. You could consider a business loan or credit card, but be aware of the repayments and risks if your business isn’t as successful initially as you’d hoped.
You could also consider getting funding from an investor, which can be less risky in the short term. Investor funding can be difficult to come by, so you’ll need to show potential investors that you’re a serious businessperson and that your business is a start-up worth investing in.
Find A Niche
Finding a niche in the market can be beneficial when you begin your architecture business, as it can attract new clients more easily. You’ll need to consider your strengths and weaknesses and the work you enjoy most to decide on the right niche to appeal to. You should also assess what your competition does and what it is missing out on, as filling an underserved section of the architecture industry could be an opportunity.
Plan Your Office Décor
When meeting with prospective clients, your office design and décor will be one of your biggest selling points. You’ll need to show that you’re serious about your craft and prove that you have an eye for detail and excellent taste. Your office should reflect the kind of architecture and style you put into each project. Each element of your office space will need careful consideration to ensure that the overall aesthetic is cohesive and appealing.
Take Financial Management Courses
Architecture skills aren’t the only essential things you need for running an architecture business. You’ll also need practical business skills to give you the best chance of succeeding in your venture. One of the most important things you’ll need is a grounding in financial management. As a business leader, you’ll be in charge of many different financial decisions, and you’ll need to understand how to make choices that will benefit your business.
An introduction to managerial finance could be invaluable for any hopeful business leader, as it will give you an excellent groundwork to help you navigate complex financial decisions. Consider taking an online certificate course provided by a recognised institution like the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Build A Quality Website
Your website, like your office aesthetic, will be a significant selling point for clients considering your business. It will need to be functional but stylish, intuitive to use, and capable of displaying your portfolio in an easily digestible way for clients. If you don’t have experience building websites yourself, consider hiring a professional to do the job for you. Always look through a web developer’s portfolio to get an idea of the kind of work they’ve done previously to ensure they are a good fit.
Networking is vital in many professions, architecture included. The more you network, the more you will open yourself up to new business and learn more about your trade. You could attend business and architecture trade shows and conferences and get mingling with the attendees.
Make sure to take plenty of business cards to hand out to anyone interested in finding an architect. You can even do a bit of networking in your personal life, from talking to other parents during the school run to handing out business cards at the gym.
Take Out Insurance
Since you provide such an essential skill, and your advice is relied upon to ensure the safety of people and property, any mistakes made can have serious consequences. This is why it is critical that any architecture business has appropriate insurance in the event that something does go wrong. Professional indemnity insurance is a good idea, to begin with, along with employer’s liability insurance if you have staff members.
Harness The Power Of Social Media
Social media can be a powerful tool for any new business, opening up a massive audience of potential clients. You’ll need to get your social media content and branding right and ensure unity in your image and tone across all social media platforms. Your content should be posted regularly, of high quality, and something that your customers want to read.
Informative posts can be a good idea, teaching prospective clients about the different elements of architecture. Keeping up with social media for even a small business can be a demanding task, so if you can, it may help to take on a social media manager to help.
Find A Business Mentor
Getting help from a mentor can be a great way to help you succeed in your new business venture. Look for a mentor who has been in your shoes before and who can give you tips and advice on any issues that come up. It may even help to have a few different mentors to help with various aspects of the business that you might need help with. For instance, you could find a mentor in business, a mentor in architecture, and a mentor in finance.
Build Up Your Portfolio
Your portfolio is another critical part of how you sell yourself to clients. You will need to show a range of quality drawings, designs, and finished projects to show that you are a good investment. When starting out with your architecture business, you should take any and all work that comes your way. Now is not the time to be selective and cultivate a specific client base; instead, get plenty of work to fill out your portfolio.
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Step House in North London
Architects: Bureau de Change
photo © Ben Blossom
North London Property Extension
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