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Starting a business

How to Start your Own Architecture Firm

If you've ever had the dream of bringing your architectural visions to life on your own terms, starting your own architecture firm could be the next step in your career. It's an exciting venture allowing you to showcase your creativity, take charge of your projects, and create something truly remarkable from your initial sketches. 

If you’re employed as an architect, venturing into the new world of entrepreneurship may seem overwhelming at first. But don't worry; we’re here to help you navigate through each step of the process and demonstrate how QuickBooks can be your reliable companion when it comes to managing your firm's finances. 

What is an Architecture Firm?

Before we dive into how you can start to establish your own architecture firm, let's first clarify what running your own firm involves. Essentially, an architecture firm is a business or company that specialises in the design of structures, like buildings, houses, hotels, and more. 

These firms will often focus on one core area within the architecture industry. They may specialise in residential, commercial, or industrial projects to gain a better niche. Some firms may even provide services beyond design, like construction management or interior design to diversify their income.

Why Start an Architecture Firm?

Why would you consider starting your own architecture firm instead of working for an established one? Well, there are several compelling reasons to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. 

As the founder of your own firm, you'll have the freedom to pursue projects that align with your creative vision and personal passions. The preferences or constraints of a larger company won't limit you. Running your own firm means you're in charge. You have control over everything from selecting projects to managing business operations, allowing you to shape the direction of your firm according to your unique vision.

Starting a firm also opens up opportunities for more professional growth and development. You will gain valuable experience not only as an architect but also as a business owner. This will allow you to refine your skills in leadership, project management, and client relationships. 

Although starting a firm requires a lot of initial investment and plenty of hard work, it also holds the potential for greater financial rewards in the long term as your firm expands and secures more projects. 

10 Steps to Starting an Architecture Firm

Now that we've discussed the reasons behind it let's move on to how you can start your own architecture firm. You’ll need to put in considerable time and effort to establish your reputation and get your firm off the ground, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to succeed. By following these essential steps, you’ll start on the right footing to build your business:

Step 1. Obtain the Required Qualifications

If you’re considering starting your own architecture firm, you likely have some experience in the field. If you don’t, it’s time to research and enrol in the qualifications and certifications that you need to practise architecture in your area. You’ll likely need to complete a higher education program in architecture and get your professional registration and licence. 

Step 2. Develop a Sound Business Plan

If you’re itching to start your firm, it might be tempting to bypass the business plan stage. However, we believe it's detrimental to disregard the planning stage - think of it like going into a pitch without a script. 

When you start developing your business plan, you need to outline your firm’s objectives and target market. It’s also the time to think carefully about what services you’re going to offer and a well-thought-out pricing strategy. Research standard pricing in your area to avoid over or undercharging. 

Now is the time to also think about a marketing approach. Think about how you’re going to push your services to the right people - if you’re a complete marketing novice, it might be worth consulting with a marketing agency that can get you on the right track. 

Architectural firms need some starting capital. You’ve got to buy materials and outsource construction work before you can offer any services to your clients. Having a business plan will help you to secure funding from financial institutions or investors. 

Step 3. Determine Your Business Structure

Like any business, you need to choose a legal structure that will work best for your firm moving forward. Choosing from sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC) can be daunting, especially if you’re new to entrepreneurship. 

Remember that each structure has its own implications for taxes, liability, and management. Consider your circumstances and preferences before you make a final decision. 

Step 4. Register Your Business

Once you’ve chosen your business structure, you need to complete all necessary registration and licensing to set up your firm as a legitimate entity legally. 

Depending on applicable regulations in Australia, obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN), if required. You also need to register for all applicable taxes or permits.

Step 5. Secure Financing

As we’ve mentioned, you need initial funding to start an architectural firm. If you don’t have thousands in savings, you’ll need to devise a plan for funding. Consider the expected initial costs of your firm to get an idea of how much you need to get started. There are plenty of routes to go down - you could either secure a bank loan, seek investment, or apply for government grants. 

Step 6. Establish Your Office Space

Once you’ve legally established your business and secured financial backing, you can start to look for an office space for your firm. Luckily, you don’t have to commit to renting a commercial space. You have the option to set up a home-based office and communicate with your clients virtually. 

At this stage, you should invest in necessary equipment and technology like computers, drafting tools, software licences, and communication systems.

Step 7. Develop Legal Documentation

Next, draft and finalise your legal documents to not only safeguard your firm's interests but also establish clear expectations with clients, employees, and partners. These may comprise contracts, agreements, terms of service, privacy policies, and intellectual property protections.

Step 8. Build Your Team

A solid team will form the backbone of your architectural firm. Take the time to recruit skilled professionals who can complement your own skills. Depending on the potential size of your firm, you may need architects, designers, engineers, and office staff.

Step 9. Promote Your Firm

Market your firm's services effectively to attract clients and generate leads, achieve success, and maintain the viability of your company. Make use of different marketing techniques like networking, referrals, optimising your website, engaging in social media marketing, and participating in industry events or trade shows to get your name out there. 

Step 10. Take Control of Your Finances

Running an architectural firm isn’t just about providing excellent services to clients. You need to manage your finances to ensure your business will survive and grow. Rather than managing your finances in the dark, you can utilise accounting software like QuickBooks to keep track of your earnings and expenses, handle invoices and payments, monitor cash flow, and generate financial reports.

How QuickBooks Can Help

When you venture into the world of entrepreneurship, having the right tools and resources can make or break your future architectural firm. QuickBooks is an accounting software solution that simplifies financial management tasks, saving you time and effort while providing valuable insights into your finances as you grow. 

Here's how QuickBooks can effectively help you get a strong handle on your firm's finances:

  1. Create professional-looking invoices and effortlessly send them to clients. Keep track of invoice statuses, set up recurring billing, and accept online payments to improve cash flow and reduce payment delays.
  2. Easily keep an eye on your firm's expenses by categorising transactions, capturing receipts, and reconciling bank accounts. Monitor spending trends, identify opportunities for cost-saving measures, and stay on top of your budget.
  3. Gain a comprehensive view of your firm's financial performance with customisable reports and dashboards. Analyse key metrics like revenue, profit margins, project costs, and client profitability to make salient decisions for your business. 
  4. Accurately track billable hours and project expenses using built-in time tracking tools. Allocate resources efficiently, monitor project budgets effectively, and ensure projects are completed on time within budgetary constraints.
  5. Streamline tax preparation processes with QuickBooks tax features to ensure compliance with ease. Effortlessly create tax reports, sort financial records for tax-related matters, and easily share data with your accountant or tax professional.

Sign up for QuickBooks Online Today

If you’re ready to start your journey as a business owner, you’ll need the right financial tools by your side. QuickBooks Online is an accounting software solution that can help you to manage and grow your architecture firm. Whether you need help preparing for tax day or get an automatic overview of your finances, QuickBooks is there to help. 


Sign up for QuickBooks Online today to get help with your small business finances.


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