10 Steps for How to Start an Architecture Firm

Do you wish to materialize your love for building designs, shapes and structures? If YES, then you’re probably thinking along the lines of starting an architecture business of your own. Right?

Well, here’s to your dream! It’s a dream worth dreaming.

Because demand for architecture is going to be in full bloom in the coming years as population grows and there’s more construction.

So, with this venture, not only will you get the inner satisfaction from doing what you love doing. The monetary compensation will also be beyond your wildest imagination –  IF (a big one), you work smart, backed with the right strategies.  

In the following guide, you’re going to learn how you can start your architecture firm from scratch plus how you can smart-work your way up the space.

So, without any further delay, let’s go through the TEN major steps to take that will guarantee your success as an infrastructure entrepreneur.

Here you go!

Cross-Question Yourself

start an architecture firm

Now, don’t get this wrong, but a lot of people tend to have the habit of daydreaming.

They think of starting out on a venture, make plans, and before they know it, the thought fizzles out. They are back to square one with another desire cooking up in the back of their mind.

You have met such people, isn’t it? They are in your social circles, right?

Now, you’re intelligent enough to realize where this is going. So, is your fascination with architecture just a passing affair? Question yourself.

Because if you’re serious, then get it straight: starting your architecture firm is not a walk in the park.

You’ll have to work hard. Really hard. Really hard…

Are you still reading? Well, if the prospect of hard work didn’t scare you away, congrats! Your dream seems as real as it gets.

Move on to the second step (officially first).

Pull Down As Much Information As Possible

Now get down to business and get your hands on as much information as you can.

First of all, you’ll need to research the requirements, legal or professional, of starting an architecture company in your city or state.

Does the law require you to be a qualified architect yourself? Generally, it doesn’t in the US. You can run the firm while your employees would take care of the architectural projects.

But, if you already hold a Bachelor of Architecture Degree or a Diploma, that’ll be MUCH help obviously.

Further, get the low down on which architecture firms are successfully running in your state and look up their business models for analysis.

Find out all about your potential competitors, from their specializations to their clients.

And, most important, seek professional advice on what type of business will you be fit to run (sole proprietorship, limited liability, corporation).

Pick Your Niche

In this step, after taking a look at the competition and after a broad analysis of the industry, you’ll need to pick your niche.

What are you good at in architecture exactly? What’s your forte in this game? What kind of services would you be best able to offer your clients?

Are you more into designing or construction? Construction of single-family homes or apartments complexes or skyscrapers?

Got the hold of it? Great! That’s how you’ll need to keep asking questions, narrow down and inch closer to your core niche.

Finding the right niche is super important because it will serve as your unique selling point (USP) when you’re on the market selling your services.

So, make sure you choose the niche wisely.


Create a Foolproof, Solid Roadmap

All great things start with a solid plan.

If you want to turn your idea into a success story, piece together a concrete plan aiming at zero room for loopholes in it.

The financial angle first. How will you fund the business, from the employees’ salaries to overhead costs? What will be your fees and on what basis will you charge clients?

Those are things that a business finance expert can certainly help you with.

In addition, you’ll want to include in the plan the competition in your target market and how you’ll dodge it to make your way to top clients in the industry.

Also, this will be the right time to come up with a brand name as well as define what your brand stands for.

Once you have a rough blueprint ready, you can work upon it, whittle at it, improve it and with the assistance of a licensed business planner draft your final map.

Get the Paperwork Done As Per Law

Now, you have a solid plan at hand that will guide you throughout your journey whenever you’re stuck or slip off track.

To implement the plan the first move is to get all the necessary paperwork and documentation done. And, again, you’ll likely want professional help, unless, of course, you’re an expert at law yourself.

In the US, the law varies from state to state. However, every state requires you to register with the authorities for tax purposes.

As an architecture firm, you’ll need to be licensed by The US General Services Administration. Not only that, you will also be required to employ a certain number of architects that match your state’s criteria on skills, qualifications and experience.

If you’re in another country, things may be a bit different.

Wherever you are, make sure you follow the law to a tee. Because, who knows, one tiny legal violation and your brand image is forever tarnished.

Find a Suited Location and Set Up Office                           

Since architecture is directly related to designing, the look and location of your office will matter a great deal.

For instance, if you’re a skyscraper specialist it’ll suit you to be located on one of the floors of a high-rise commercial building in your city.

Furthermore, you’ll want your office to speak for your brand. Therefore, you’ll need perfect interior designs fitting your vision, mission and business nature.

Also, you’re an architect firm so it’s a given that you and your employees will be in need of special, high-end architectural tools.

Since they can be expensive you could consider leasing them, rather than buying them outright.

Advertise and Spread the Word

There can be many effective ways you can go about selling your services. Perhaps, a combination of several strategies will work right for you.

Since this is the era of the computer (fact: 4.41 billion will use social media by 2025), internet marketing should be on top of your list.

To get started, you could launch a blog, offering insider architecture knowledge for those into building and construction. It’ll be a sure-shot way to gather a decent audience around the brand.

By interacting with the people you could make worthwhile connections and get your foot in the door.

Further, invest in social media marketing by targeting specific keywords for your services, location and the overall industry.

On top of everything, focus on selling your unique selling point (USP) by spotlighting it and repeating it in every form of ad you use.

To achieve the desired results, this (advertising) step will be your best bet. Don’t take it lightly.

Believe it or not, no matter how much you spend on marketing, if everything goes right you will break even and begin to experience juicy returns in no time.  

Network – Right, Left, Up, Down

This step goes hand in hand with advertising.

One of the most powerful tools for entrepreneurs is contacts. There are hundreds of stories on how frustrated, desperate business owners with no orders finally started getting them once they stepped out into the world and tapped into the power of networking.

Similarly, you must understand that you need to tell the people out there about your enterprise, who you are and what you do. Let everyone know.

Haven’t you heard, “Nobody puts the baby in a corner”?

Tell the parents of your children’s friends that you’re an architect and would love to help anyone in need of architectural services.

Meet with people at your recreation club and drop your business card with them.

Apart from that, you can simply make offers to volunteer at buildings in your town that you think need remodeling. This way you will surely be able to collect a nice portfolio of work samples quickly.

Design a Pro-Looking Website

It’s a no-brainer that you will need a website with a professional, authoritative look.

The website can be the same for your blog with the blog running as a separate section or you can create a different website altogether where you will get orders and give quotes.

You can easily create the site yourself on WordPress, Wix, Shopify. However, if you’re not familiar with how this works get a website designer to design one for you.

Tip: Make sure that you have an “about us” section. Research shows 52% of visitors look for it once on a site.

All in all, a professionally-built website will be your key to success.

And, without a website, never mind how great an architect you are, you’ll have the slimmest chances of getting noticed. Mark that!

Don’t Be Choosy As a Beginner

Finally, show gratitude for whatever work comes your way. Don’t pick and choose as you start out.

The target for you should be to get as many clients and as many testimonials as possible.

Your primary focus should be on building a portfolio that you can show off on your site and impress clients with. And, all kinds of projects will work to that end. 

So, never say “No” to a project that you don’t feel like doing.

That ideal project will come only after you’ve done your share of grunt work.

Make a Start

Actually, you never got to know the very first step – or, tip. No, cross-questioning wasn’t it. Then what’s it?

It’s here: The REAL step no.1 is to get started! In other words, taking the first step is the first step. Too philosophical?

Well, in simpler words, if you never made the first move, you’ll never get anywhere 100% and you know that.

That means, begin with your research now. Get in touch with an expert now. Start planning now – before your mind falls back into the old pattern.

If architecture is your passion and if you envision yourself as the owner of a mighty architecture firm doing business with top builders in the country, act now. Don’t wait for tomorrow. They say, it never comes.

ALRIGHT. It’s your turn to share how you plan to start (or already started) your architecture firm.

Also, what steps would you add to our list that you think could make achieving the architecture venture easier? Do share!

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