Get Your License
In order to practice architecture, you’ll need to get your license. This process is typically overseen by your state’s department of licensing or board of architecture. Some states require that you pass an exam, while others require only a degree in architecture and a certain number of years’ experience before granting a license.
To find out what kind of license you’ll need and how to get one, contact your state’s licensing board directly or search online for information on its process (for example: try googling “architecture license” + STATE) and see what comes up. The same is true for setting up an architecture firm in any one of Canada’s states.
Find the Right Insurance Provider
Insurance is a necessity. If your firm is in operation, you will need to carry some form of liability insurance. This can be expensive and confusing, but it’s a good investment that can also help you get discounts on other services.
If you’re starting out, most lenders will require proof of your ability to obtain certain types of insurance before giving you access to funds. Insurance providers may also be able to offer deals on other things such as equipment or office supplies if they know how important it is for you to start your business right away.
Meet Local Contractors
Meeting local contractors is a must for any architect, and more so for an emerging architecture company that needs to know the facts on the ground. Local contractors can give you that kind of info. You can also try to form a kind of friendly professional relationship that may send some work your way in the future. So, how to meet these local contractors?
- Meet contractors online. Join a few of the local groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, and if you see someone who looks like they could be useful to know in your area, send an introduction request to them (you can always decline if they don’t seem like a good fit). If there isn’t an architecture-related group in your area, start your own! It doesn’t have to be anything formal—in fact, it may be more effective if it isn’t; just get together for coffee with some other architects working in the same area as you on occasion so that you can share advice about projects or clients or even just give each other moral support when things get stressful.
- Meet contractors at trade shows and conferences: Keep an eye out for opportunities related to both of these categories around town; many cities have annual conventions and expos where architectural firms will gather together with potential clients—it could not only bring potential business but also serve as valuable networking time where alliances are forged between companies looking for similar services from one another down the road!
Choose A Niche
You need to choose a niche that is related to your interests, but also something that will be profitable. If you are passionate about historic preservation and the niche is already saturated with competition, then think of something else related but less competitive.
If it’s too broad, then there will be little demand for your services. For example: “architecture” is too broad—it could apply to any type of building or design work; whereas if you choose “commercial architecture,” then this narrows it down significantly by focusing on office buildings as opposed to residences or other types of structures.
On the other hand, if it’s too specific (like “brick restoration”) then there may not be enough clients who need renovations like this done for you to establish yourself as an expert in this field and grow your business accordingly
Create A Mission Statement
A mission statement is a statement of purpose. It’s a reminder of why you started the business, and it’s what helps keep your actions aligned with your overall goals. A good mission statement should be short and easy to remember so that it can serve as a guide in times of doubt or confusion.
A good way to create a mission statement is to ask yourself why you want to do this kind of work (and/or what qualities you want to bring into the world). Ask yourself: What have I always wanted? How have I seen my clients’ dreams come true? How can I make someone else feel inspired? Your answers will give you clues about what kind of architecture would best fit your values—and the meaning behind your work will be strengthened when these ideals are written down clearly and concisely for everyone involved in the project (including yourself)
Write A Business Plan
One of the most important steps in starting an architecture firm is writing a business plan. A business plan is where you lay out your goals, establish how you’ll achieve them and determine how much money it will take to do so.
The first step in writing a good business plan is to figure out what exactly your business does. At its heart, architecture is about making buildings—but there are many ways to go about that task. You might be interested in designing large-scale retail spaces or public buildings like museums or libraries; maybe instead you want to focus on residential homes and apartment complexes, or perhaps it’s something else entirely (like urban planning).
You should also consider who your ideal clients are going to be, especially if they’re willing and able to pay for services like yours. If possible, make sure these potential clients are located close enough that they can easily get from their home offices into yours every time they need something done—this could save both time and money down the line!
Create A Pricing Structure
Once you’ve completed the first two steps, it’s time to create a pricing structure. This is one of the most important aspects of running an architecture firm because it will allow your clients to understand what they can expect from you and how much they’ll have to pay. The best thing about having a pricing structure is that it helps guide both your employees and clients throughout their experiences with your company. You can also use this as part of your own business planning process: if things aren’t working out or if someone isn’t happy with their results, then simply revisit this step to make adjustments before moving on!
In order for a pricing structure to work well (and ensure everyone gets something out of it), there are five key concepts that need consideration: fairness; profitability; ease-of-understanding; ease-of-explaining; and ease-of-implementing
Hold An Office Warming Party
Whether you’re launching your architecture firm, or have been in business for years and want to expand, making connections with the community is key. Holding an office warming party is one way to help build these relationships and get people talking about your business.
A well-planned office warming party accomplishes several things:
- It gives potential clients a chance to see what kind of work you do without them having to come into the studio during normal hours.
- It allows you as the architect or principal designer a chance to connect with local business leaders and other professionals who may be interested in hiring you for their projects.
- You can use it as an opportunity to raise awareness about what makes your firm different from others—and why clients should hire you instead of someone else!
Set Up A Website Or Social Media Page
Your website is a platform where you can display your portfolio, services, and contact information. It’s also an essential part of building your brand identity. If you don’t have a website yet, now would be the time to start one. There are several free and easy-to-use web platforms that will allow you to create a professional online presence in just a few hours!
Once you have established an account on Squarespace or Wix (both great platforms), spend some time determining what content will appear on your homepage. You should include:
- A welcome message that explains why people should hire you as their architect or designer.
- A link to any articles or case studies relevant to your work (these are particularly helpful when trying to get clients).
- Your portfolio so potential clients can see examples of projects similar in scope to theirs.
- Your contact information (phone number/email address) so customers can reach out directly if they need additional help with their project
Develop An Internal Style Guide For Your Brand
It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of your business, but it’s important to think about the bigger picture and consider how all of those small decisions will add up. In this case, developing an internal style guide will give you a clear vision for your brand while also helping maintain consistency across all of your projects—no matter who is working on them.
A style guide is essentially a document that outlines how you want things done in your office. It covers everything from naming conventions when creating new files on Dropbox to typography preferences used on printed materials such as brochures or business cards. You can also include other aesthetic elements such as colors and images (this is especially helpful if you have multiple designers working in different mediums). The key here is to make sure everyone has access to these standards so they can implement them into their work without having any questions about which typeface goes where or whether or not it should be italicized!
Start An Email Newsletter Or Blog
Start an email newsletter or blog.
- Email newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with clients and potential clients. You can send out information on upcoming projects, photos from completed work and other newsworthy items you’d like to share with your network.
- Blogs are a great way to share your knowledge and expertise with the world. Think about what you would like people to learn from reading your blog, and write about that! Encourage readers’ comments by asking them questions about what they think about what you wrote, or even inviting them into the conversation by making it open-ended (“Tell me why…”).
Network In Person Through Local Events And Organizations
- Network in person through local events and organizations.
- Meet people who can help you.
- Meet people who have similar goals.
- Meet people who have similar problems, or who are working on similar projects to yours; this way, you can team up with them (and share the profits).
- You should also seek out individuals with skills that complement yours; for example, if you’re good at design but not so great at marketing and sales, then find someone with those skills to partner up with!
Automate Some Of Your Processes With Software To Cut Down On The Time You Spend On Administrative Tasks.
- Automate some of your processes with software to cut down on the time you spend on administrative tasks.
- Use software to help you manage your business and communicate with clients, like Basecamp, Google Apps and MailChimp (more on these below).
Learn How To Market Yourself Or Hire Someone Who Can Do It For You.
Marketing is an important part of running a business, and architecture firms are no exception. It’s not just about advertising; it’s also about how you communicate with your customers, employees, the public, and vendors. You need to know who you are and what you stand for as an architect—and then communicate that effectively in every aspect of your work.
This might seem daunting at first, but don’t worry: there are many ways to market yourself without spending a fortune on ad campaigns or hiring a marketing firm. Here are some easy things you can do today:
Use Your Resources Wisely By Finding Free Or Low-Cost Tools, Books And Training Options When Available.
- Use your resources wisely by finding free or low-cost tools, books and training options when available.
- As an architect, you will have a lot of expenses to cover in the beginning of your career. You’ll need to set up office space and buy equipment like computers, software programs and drafting tables. But there are many ways to cut costs on these essential items:
- Many computer programs can be used for free for non-commercial purposes (even if you are doing it for profit). For example, GIMP is a great image editor that you can download from www.gimp.org/downloads/. If you’re looking for something less intensive than Photoshop but still powerful enough to get the job done right—and don’t mind editing images on your laptop instead of on a tablet—GIMP might be a better option than Adobe’s program because it doesn’t cost nearly as much money!
- I’ve seen some architects who just use pencils or markers on paper when they first start out; others prefer using digital design software like AutoCAD or SketchUp instead because it’s easier than drawing by hand.*
Create A Financial Plan
You’ll need to create a financial plan that shows your income and expenses, along with how much money you need to make each month.
Once you have your business plan in place, it’s time to start creating your financial plan. The first step is looking over your personal finances and making sure they’re in order before taking on clients. Create a spreadsheet of monthly expenses and subtract those from the total amount of money coming into each month. This will give you an idea of how much money you need for basic bills that come up each month (rent or mortgage, utilities). Then add any extra costs (car payment, health insurance) that might not come up every month but always do when they do show up.
Next, take out credit cards or loans if necessary so that all debts are paid off before starting the business — or use them as needed while setting up shop until they’re paid off completely.
Choose Your Brand
Branding is about communicating your company’s values and making sure they resonate with your target audience. When you’re starting out, you’ll want to make sure that whatever brand you select is:
Name Your Company
Choosing a name for your architecture firm is one of the most important decisions you will make. The name of your company closely represents who you are and what you do, so it must be memorable, easy to spell and pronounce, associated with your brand and reflect the type of work that you will be doing.
- Choose a name that is memorable. The goal here is for people to remember it when asked about architecture firms in the area or when considering hiring one for their next project.
- Choose a name that is easy to spell and pronounce. You don’t want someone calling up asking for “Architecture Firm” rather than “Architectural Firm”. Likewise, if they can’t figure out how to spell your business name then they’re not going to find or contact them!
- Choose a name that represents who you are as well as what kind of business model you have in mind: whether large-scale commercial projects requiring high-end architects or smaller-scale residential homes needing more affordable design services offered by an experienced architect (who may happen not even call themselves an architect). It’s also important not necessarily to focus on being “unique” but instead to make sure everyone knows exactly what type of service(s) they offer without having any doubts whatsoever!
Set Up Your Office
Once you have a location in mind and have determined your budget, it’s time to set up your office. Your space can be as small as a spare room or as large as several rooms. The size of your business will determine how much space you need; for example, if you’re working independently with no employees, one room might suffice. If you’re part of a larger firm or have multiple employees who work from home, then more than one room may be necessary for efficiency’s sake.
Once you’ve found an appropriate space and negotiated a rental price with the owner (or landlord), it’s time to think about what needs to go into this new workspace—both in terms of furniture and equipment like computers and printers—and how much money each item will cost. This is where estimating comes into play! Make sure to include all costs associated with setting up shop: rental fees; equipment purchases; licenses; permits; utilities (electricity, gas); furniture costs (desks/chairs/tables); lighting fixtures/fans/ceiling fans/extractor fans); internet connection devices (modems).
Hire Employees, If Necessary
If you’re not interested in the responsibilities of running a business, it’s probably best to hire some help. You’ll need at least one person to handle all the administrative work and another person who has experience managing projects. You might also want to hire a designer or construction supervisor if you don’t have those skills yourself.
- Find clients through word of mouth
- Find clients through networking
- Find clients through referrals
- Find clients through social media
- Find clients through job boards
- Find clients through online marketing (e-mail, blogging, social media) You can also use any other form of marketing that suits you best!
Patience, Organization and Resourcefulness
Starting an architecture company is all about patience, organization and resourcefulness. Patience is key when you are trying to build a successful business from the ground up. You need to be patient enough to work hard at building your brand and your reputation, but also know when it’s time to let go of something that isn’t working out well or doesn’t help further your goals. Organization is also one of the most important things because it helps you stay focused on what needs to be done every day. Resourcefulness is important so that you can find solutions when problems arise, as well as have some fun along the way.
If you’re looking to start your own architecture company, we hope that this guide has been helpful. Remember that you don’t need to have a ton of money or experience—just the passion for design and drive to succeed. With these tips in mind, you should be well on your way toward success!
Get Off The Ground More Easily.
Starting an architecture firm is like starting any other business. You need to know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and what resources you’ll need along the way.
Like any other business owner, architects face a number of challenges when they start their firms: they must create and maintain a budget; they must develop marketing strategies that speak directly to potential clients; they must hire employees who can help them with these tasks.
If all this sounds intimidating, don’t worry! It’s actually pretty simple once you know what steps to take first (and which ones are optional).
Do I need a license to start my architecture firm?
Yes, you do. No matter where you’re planning to start your architecture firm, you have to get the necessary license to be able to work.
Do I need to do my own marketing?
Not if you have enough money to hire someone else to do it! While hiring a marketing specialist or outsourcing to a marketing agency saves you some time, the issue of the budget and personal preferences will make most staring architects to do it themselves. Of course, with a marketing automation software, it’s going to be very easy.
Are there any tools to help me handle admin paperwork?
Definitely. There are a lot of tools you can use to handle anything from lead generation and scheduling to invoicing and payment. There are, however, only a few of all-in-one software designed for architects and none of them is as complete as RunSensible.