There are a total of 20,836 architectural firms employing over 146,000 people in the US. Striking out on your own as an architect offers benefits such as the freedom to seek and take on contracts you want to do. You can also exercise creative control over your projects. It can be lucrative as well, with architects who have equity in a company earning $147,452 per annum, while the top 20% of architect principals get over $200,000, according to Design Intelligence. Alas, starting your own firm is not as easy as it sounds. Before opening your company, consider these factors to make your endeavor a success.
From the moment you decide to open a firm, you will need money to pay for your activities. You might need to rent an office or use your home office temporarily. Salaries, office supplies and equipment, transportation, and communication and internet are some of the expenses that you will incur. Any new firm will also need architects & engineers insurance, which is a professional liability insurance for architects. It will help cover legals costs that you might have when defending a claim. Even the most skilled of architects can make mistakes, and in the event that this happens, insurance can protect your company from claims and liabilities. If you have staff working alone on site, having a lone worker system and alarms in place means they get help in the event of an emergency. This ensures your company avoids prosecution for failing particular health and safety legislation.
Creating an architectural firm involves a stock of business knowledge. You will need to act as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your company. Marketing will be one of your main activities to snag contracts and projects. Without clients, your business won’t run. Lining up and timing projects is vital to sustain your operations.
Networking, preparing contracts, working with builders and owners, and sticking to a budget are some of the activities that your company will do. You also need to supervise your architects and support staff to ensure that deadlines are being met. In addition to the technical and administrative work, the legal side of the business must not be forgotten if you are to ensure that you are in compliance with local building codes and avoid situations that will cost your company money or affect your reputation.
Hire Partners And Identify Niche Markets
Another factor to consider when establishing your own firm is to hire experienced partners who can help kick-start your company. Architects who have a solid experience and contacts will be an asset. Look for potential partners who are outgoing and people-minded because it is important to communicate well with owners, builders, and contractors. Trust in your partners and employees is also vital, as this will affect how they deal and connect with clients. Open communication among employees is crucial in building strong relationships and in fostering a healthy corporate climate. Experienced partners can also provide valuable input in identifying niche markets where your business can focus its efforts. For example, you might want to concentrate on historic homes, adaptive living for the elderly, or emergency shelters and hospitals during crises.
Starting your own architectural company won’t be an easy task. It will require hard work and persistence. Having enough money to sustain your operations, as well as educating yourself in business and getting experienced partners, will set you on the right path to success.