The phrase, “business development” is invisible/mysterious/ obscure phrase in the architecture profession.
We can talk about topics such as design, design excellence, latest building materials, or even the latest technologies etc, however, when it comes to business, we start getting quiet, especially the business development (aka getting projects).
When I started my architecture firm years ago, I had to look for information on “how to make money running architecture firm”. That is how I was introduced to a blog, Business of Architecture.
Recently, I had a chance to connect with the blogger himself, Enoch Sears through the webinar session provided by the Ontario Association of Architects.
Here are my (as well as some of the readers from this blog) questions on building design business. Please let me know if I missed any other questions!
What is the biggest reason for you to start your own architecture business? anything you missed from working for other companies?
I always wanted to start my own architecture firm because I value freedom and charting my own destiny. I always felt I wanted the challenge of running a business instead of being an operator in someone else’s business.
As a business owner I have a lot of flexibility and control over my own schedule – things I value highly.
What was your very first project (client) starting your practice?
My very first project when I started my architecture firm was a gas riser diagram for a restaurant that I did for a contractor.
The fee was not much – $1000 US I think – and the contractor ended up not paying me.Enoch Sears
I learned some very valuable lessons from this experience!
#1: Always charge in advance when possible (get paid for your services BEFORE you do the work).
#2: In business, people will play the “friend” card, or ask “can you do me a favor?” Business is business, be sure to value your services!
How do you think architecture schools can prepare students with entrepreneurship?
Architecture schools and prepare students for entrepreneurship by helping them discover how to identify a problem that exists in the market and coming up with an innovative solution to that problem.
What is the single biggest thing architecture firm owners can do that can make the biggest impact in business development?
The #1 thing architecture firm owners can do to make the biggest impact in their business development is to deeply understand the needs of their clients and how their firm is different or better in providing this solution.
What do you do “when you are not at the office”? your hobbies etc?
When I’m not in the office, I enjoy spending time with my wife and six children. We go hiking, camping, biking and sailing – anything outside.