How to set up your own Architecture Firm
So, you want to set-up shop? Here are our top tips on establishing a successful architectural business.
1. Define your brand
What sort of firm do you want to build and what do you want to specialise in? Think about how you present your firm and how you want it to be perceived. Ask for opinions from those in the know about your logos, letterheads and website before you start writing press releases and spreading the word.
2. Sociliase with possible clients
If you thought the number of hours you put in at university was the last round-the-clock working you’d do, you were wrong. Running your own firm is 24/7 – especially in the initial stages. If there’s a particular area you’d like to work in, hang out there! If you’re aiming for the local jet-set, check out where they like to have a drink on a Friday night. Don’t go in as a salesperson, just be yourself and let people know what you do organically.
3. Scope out local businesses
Often partnerships are a good way to build up your reputation and portfolio in the early years of your firm. Speak to local, larger firms and building contractors to see how you can collaborate. It’s worth seeing if there are any local or county-wide registers you can be listed on also.
4. Enter some design competitions
Sounds corny but it’ll get your name out there. A little effort could really pay off, even though the project won’t get built. Your drawings and designs will likely be published online – and who knows who might see it!
5. Look into financial support and loans
When you first start out, it can be hard to get the capital together to have a decent premises or to invest in a little marketing. Unsecured loans are great for start-ups as they aren’t secured against your assets – which is great when you haven’t yet bought any assets! Be mindful of how you spend initial funding and concentrate on areas that are going to bring the best returns. If you have a shop front in a busy town, make sure it’s looking tidy and slick. If you’re based at home, invest in time and space saving equipment.
6. Pick people’s brains!
Every big firm started where you are right now. Pick your top 5 firms and just give them a call! Ask them about their struggles, lessons and mistakes – you’d be surprised how willing people are to help start-ups, especially if you’re showing confidence and enthusiasm.