A lot of young architecture graduates often dream of opening up their own architecture firm soon. While they may have the passion and drive to pursue their dreams, the feasibility of the business to succeed is often left ambiguous.
As with any other profession, experts advise that youngsters who are looking to build a career in architecture should invest years and years in training with an experienced architect before they start out on their own. Of course, this is very sound advice, but not everyone can push aside their entrepreneurial instincts to a later time in their life.
In essence, there are two ways to go about it. The first option is to just start the firm in your 20s and wait for years to build momentum, gather enough clients, and establish yourself as a key player. The plus side to this option is that your 20s give you a high appetite for risk. This means that no matter the downfalls, you will be able to pick yourself up over time and gain a thorough understanding of your field.
The second option is to wait and gain sufficient experience before setting foot as a ‘solopreneur’ and opening your own architecture firm. By following this route, you will be working with established names in the industry for several years, and become a knowledgeable professional in your domain. This may take years and years, and perhaps, in your mid-30s, you’ll be confident enough to begin a firm without much scope for setbacks.
On the other hand, you could also start small with a big architectural company, and work your way up the ranks in the hope that you will become a partner someday.
While these are all good possibilities, the dream of starting an architecture firm is unlike any other. If you’ve decided to go ahead with your decision to open up your own firm, here are some pointers that will help you stay on track.
How to get started
1. Have a plan ready
The biggest mistake many entrepreneurs make is that they don’t have a clear plan in mind. They let the industry’s whims guide them, and eventually, they end up losing the passion to pursue their dream.
Before you even conceptualize what your firm will be like, you should have both a life and a business plan ready. You can consult the initial business plans of many other successful entrepreneurs on the internet and gather inspiration for your own.
2. Get the word out
Remember, when you’re starting your own architecture firm, clients will not come pouring in from day one. Unless you have built sufficient leverage within your industry, people will remain skeptical about your work for a while.
The best way to navigate this initial slump is to get the word out as much as possible. Tell all your friends and family members about your new venture, tell your neighbors, or even any local businesses that may have connections. Even people looking for freelance work can approach you and get you started on your journey.
3. Start a website
Once you’ve decided your company’s name and you’ve listed out the services you will be offering, you need to start your own website. In this day and age, no matter how spruced up your office space is, you won’t come across as a trustworthy professional unless you have an impressive website to your name.
You can take the help of a professional to build your website, or if you have budget constraints, you can easily do it yourself. Start by introducing yourself and citing the services offered by your company. You can even showcase some personal work across your website. Once you secure the first couple of clients, you can feature the finished work on your site as well.
4. Social media/ Content marketing
As a beginner, it is important for potential clients to see you as a key player within your industry. Content marketing, in the form of weekly blogs or articles, can not only bring more people to your site, but it also shows that you have sufficient expertise within your field.
In addition to this, remember to start social media pages for your company on a variety of platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Considering how a majority of social media users find their design/ architecture needs answered on these platforms, having a well-managed social media strategy will surely help you stay in the game.
5. Don’t be picky
Regardless of how many years of experience you have in your field, don’t pass on small projects right from the get-go. Be it small eateries, salons, or even a shelter, be generous in offering your services to a variety of clients. After all, this is how you grow.
You can also choose to take up volunteering or ‘pro-bono’ work in your neighborhood. This will give you great credibility within local circles and can help you establish your presence in your community. Drop by your nearest library or church and ask if they would like any help with renovations.
While age may seem like a huge constraint with regard to how you want to move forward professionally, it is all just a mental block. If you wish to open up your own architecture firm, the first step is to just start. Stay consistent in your actions and use your ambition to put in all the hard work you’ll need to become successful.
An important step that you should consider when starting your own firm is to get Professional Liability insurance cover. Having insurance may seem like a secondary choice at the start, but it can protect you from heavy losses you may encounter in a high-risk profession like architecture and design. Check out this website to know more about insurance liability for architects.