15 Expert Tips to Start Your Own Architect Business

Sep 2, 2021 · 8 minutes to read

Female architect in office working on architects project

Once qualified, many architects have the ambition of starting their own business, taking full responsibility for the design of their projects. However, most begin by building up their experience with an established company; below we offer fifteen tips for architect businesses that could help you to branch out and set up your own firm.

1. Start thinking about it now

Nobody with any sense is going to quit their current job and start out on their own without planning. From the moment you start working as an architect, you should be thinking about opportunities to pave the way for your own business. Remember, every client you work with while working for your employer is a potential client for your new business when you start. Stay in touch with all your contacts and get a feel for what they will be needing in the future. Learn from your employers about what makes an architect firm run well and think about what you might do differently if you were in charge; even if you don’t feel you’ll be ready to branch out for a few years, you can learn things that will help you when you eventually do every single day.

2. Keep your spending down

So, you’re ready to start out in your own architect business, and your competitors have designer offices, branded expensive automobiles, and so on; you need that too, right? Wrong. When you start out in business, it’s a bad mistake to invest what funds you have in building a superficial image. Spend your funds wisely, on good employees, good computer hardware and software, architect liability insurance: all the things that you actually need rather than what you think will impress clients. If your work is good enough, clients will be impressed. With every outlay, you need to think about whether you are spending funds on something your company actually needs or something you think might be nice.

3. Define your aims

If you set up your own architect business just because you think it is the thing to do, or because you love architecture and want to have complete control over design, you may be setting up to fail. When you set up your own architecture business, you cease to be just an architect, you become an architect/entrepreneur. You need to have a specific aim in mind and a clear vision of the way you will achieve it; people who don’t know where their journey’s end tend to get lost. Having a goal that you are focused on will help get you through the inevitable difficulties any new company faces; if you don’t have a goal, you’ll feel like giving up every day.

Recommended reading: How to start your own architecture firm

4. Be a builder

If you’ve been working for an architect company, you will doubtless know how to design buildings, but you may well have been kept insulated from the actual process of building. If you have been working with site managers, procurement specialists, etc., you may well have missed out on learning about the nitty-gritty of the building process. Owning your own architecture firm, you need to know the building process inside out. One of the best ways of doing this is to actually get your hands dirty and work on a building, perhaps on a charity project, getting a feel for the processes that are involved in turning your drawings into reality.

5. Create your brand

Many people will offer you professional services to create your brand, but when you think about it, who knows your company best – it’s you. As an architect you are already a designer and creative, use your skills to create attractive eye-catching publicity material that speaks of exactly what you are about as a company. Not only will this establish firm contact with potential clients, but you will save money on expensive design services.

6. Diversify your revenue streams

You’re an architect, you design buildings, period, right? Wrong. When you start out in your own architect business, you may well find that you won’t be able to land big contracts for lucrative building projects straight away. While you’re waiting for your big break, how are you going to keep the company afloat? There are many different ways you could leverage your expertise, perhaps by writing blogs or textbooks about your profession, sharing your experience with others and building a reputation and garnering advertising revenue at the same time.

7. Don’t neglect hand drawing

Every architecture company in the modern era uses digital design software, and there is no denying this will be essential to your company’s success. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be said for the old-fashioned processes you probably learned as a student of drawing plans out by hand in the first instance. Don’t neglect your organic skills that can help keep your inspiration and creativity flowing.

8. Learn about business

You’re trained as an architect, not as a businessperson. The best architect in the world can’t expect to be a success in their own business unless they understand how business works as well as how buildings work. Taking a business course, or a series of courses, can help you to develop your firm as you want it to be, taking care of finances, human resources, publicity and so on. Not only will this help you to control your firm but you will also save money from not having to buy in outside advisers.

9. Don’t just learn from the good

Hopefully over the course of your education and career you’ve seen plenty of examples of good practice, but remember that one of the best ways to learn is to learn from mistakes. Think about mistakes that you have seen and how you will avoid them in your own business. You should also think about the mistakes you have seen in terms of taking out architect liability insurance to avoid damage to your business if mistakes are made.

10. Contact previous clients

People who have been happy with your work are one of your greatest resources; let them know when you go into business for yourself and ask them if they have any more work they need doing or, if not, if they can spread the word about your new business. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising available. Naturally, you have to be ethical: don’t breach any confidentiality or competition agreements you signed with your previous employers.

11. Look out for what’s new

Simply imitating established firms is not going to be enough to make you stand out from the crowd, established practices will have substantial portfolios and client lists and you need a reason for those clients to consider moving over to you. The great advantage you have over an established business is that you can adopt new trends quickly when they are still thinking about them. Make sure you keep up with the architectural press and be ready to offer your clients new ideas as they emerge.

12. Get online

So much business is done online these days, you simply can’t afford to neglect the opportunities for advertising and client engagement the Internet offers. Make sure that your website is clean, efficient, and reflects your design ethos. Create a social media presence and make sure that it is regularly updated. Always ensure that it is easy for clients to contact you through all the platforms you use.

13. Show flexibility

If you start out with absolutely set ideas about the type of work you want to do, chances are you’re going to be disappointed. In the first few years of setting up your own architectural practice you may have to take on jobs that you think are too small or too boring for your talents. Don’t be arrogant, give these jobs as much attention as you would to the “dream” jobs and you’ll soon find your reputation rising and the chances of getting the sort of work you really want will improve.

14. Know your limits

You might dream when you set up your own architect practice of multimillion dollar contracts suddenly falling into your lap, but think about how you would manage them if they did. Do you have the experience, skills, capital and staff to take that sort of project on? Biting off more than you can chew could lead to financial disaster and severe reputational damage; be honest about what you can manage and don’t take on more than you can cope with.

15. Sharpen your pitch

Pitching for contracts is one of the most important skills an architect can have, one that often isn’t taught on architectural courses and that you may not have had the opportunity to practice working for other companies. Practice makes perfect, try out your pitch on your family, friends, and staff; use your phone or tablet to film yourself giving a pitch and think about what you can improve.

Hopefully the tips above have given you some good ideas about the way you can make a success of your architecture business. Don’t forget, once you have made a success of things, you could lose everything over one liability claim that might not even be directly your fault; architect liability insurance is the best way to protect your hard-earned gains. Learn more about this essential tool for architects.

Get Free Online Quotes and get coverage instantly

The coverage you need for your business.

Business insurance is divided into different policies. We offer 4 types so it's easy to design the coverage that fits your business.

Professional Liability Insurance

Get a quote

General Liability Insurance

Get a quote

Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)

Get a quote

Workers Compensation Insurance

Get a quote

Let's find

The coverage you need for your business

Professional Liability Insurance

Get a quote

General Liability Insurance

Get a quote

Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)

Get a quote

Workers Compensation Insurance

Get a quote

BizInsure has really come through for me on some really hard to place risks. Andrew takes the time to understand the risk and work through how we can make it work, rather than looking for ways to say no. Thank you for your help!
Carlos T.
18:06 16 Mar 23
Very helpful and explanatory on the policy line of the policy
Josua V.
17:30 14 Mar 23
Worked with Tevin. Amazing customer service. Was very patient with me in figuring out the best insurance coverage for business. Thanks Tevin for making it easy.
Faisal O.
16:23 14 Mar 23
No complaints, Always a fast response when a need arises.
Dan F.
13:56 10 Mar 23
Very good information patience was shown. Much help from Kaled, satisfied with the amount of insurance and good coverage. Affordable is what you need with starting a small business until you grow. Old saying is go as you grow.
Jacquelynn W.
21:53 20 Jan 23
Professionals at what they do! easy to navigate and very good people to lead to to the best coverage!
Magnifier 2.
20:37 17 Jan 23
I have been shopping for business liability insurance for several months. I am happy to share that BizInsure ranked #1! The representatives were polite, patient, and empathetic. They accomplished what most companies struggle with achieving: they did what they said they were going to do, they were on time, and they had empathy. They delivered a policy for 25% less than the closest competetor, and even included $50k of cyber security at no additional cost! I only write reviews when I receive exceptional experiences- highly revommended; keep up the great service BizInsure!P.S. I own a professional referral service in Hawai'i and I am going to see if BizInsure offers an affiliate program.Aloha!
John S.
05:51 23 Nov 22
They respond quickly and give you quotes immediately ...
Regean K.
23:55 09 Nov 22
The agent that I spoke to was very experienced and could tell that I was new at this and was very understanding and took the time to explain everything to me.
lotanga J.
00:04 15 Oct 22
Easy to work with and very responsive. Glad to have them as my broker.
Edward G.
18:54 13 Sep 22
We’re very happy with BiInsured LLC. VERY AFFORDABLE
Paul A. F.
19:20 11 Sep 22
Jasmine Q was on the spot professional, she knew where to direct me and explain to me my concerns and request; she delivered my personal information within minutes of me asking policy questions.That young lady is a true ROCK STAT!!!
Shaka 3 Z.
23:09 15 Aug 22
For a small non-profit, the package I was given was affordable. The representative was polite, patient, understanding, and knowledgeable.
Gertrude R.
18:06 15 Aug 22
Asked for a specific venue to be place on our certificate of insurance and it was done within one business day. Yay! Bizinsure!
Melinda S.
17:02 01 Aug 22
The process was fast and easy and the professional staff was very knowledgeable with any questions that I had and ready to help
06:40 31 Mar 22
Friendly agents. Timely replies. Fair pricing. This is a good fit for my business! Thank you, Noah, for all your help.
Beth Anne V.
19:27 28 Mar 22
They are awesome
Tony H.
00:41 07 Jan 22
Noa made sure I had all the information I needed for a first time business owner . He helped me understand what I needed to secure a quality policy and he was super helpful when explaining how the policy would serve its purpose to my company. I was very satisfied and had an Awesome experience, I think people like that make the company look good!
Wayleen O.
04:36 15 Oct 21
I was in need of WC, GL and PL coverages for my business and was able to shop, discuss, confirm and purchase all the coverages in two days! This was a great experience, especially when "Time is Money". Noah Bowman was very professional and knowledgeable. Thanks!
AmeriCreed 1.
15:42 23 Sep 21
19:49 09 Sep 21
Their representative clearly explained different kinds of policies to help me select the one appropriate for my needs and then helped me enroll by phone painlessly. By the end of the call, I had a policy in place.
Dissent D.
22:21 02 Sep 21
Eugene was Awesome!!!!
Lakesha G
17:19 21 Jul 21
Excellent solution for writers and authors professional liability policy as well as coverage for copyright and trademark infringement. Service was prompt and excellent.
18:22 22 Jun 21
Done in less than an hour!
William O.
00:30 02 Jun 21
Efficient, and great value. The agent was able to give us a quote and a new policy in a short period of time. Thank you
Brenda J.
20:30 24 May 21
I had a great experiencing obtaining several of my insurance needs as a landscaping company here in Northern Colorado. BizInsure's team took care of my needs and was very responsive to help with paperwork needed to secure a potential client account!
Arik S.
16:34 10 May 21
Very efficient they were able to help me out with my request promptly....highly recommend this companyI am very happy to have them
Elba P.
18:50 26 Apr 21
I need a help getting errors and omissions insurance along with general liability. Jose was very friendly informative and was very patient with me during the process. He found me some of the best rates for the coverage that I needed. Highly recommend
Casper M.
19:51 20 Apr 21
I had numerous conversations with several business insurance agents over a month's time. I also had several conversations confirming the policy inclusion/exclusions and asked many questions. My BizInsure agent was professional, knowledgeable and most important—detail oriented. Even after having an initial conversation a month earlier he knew and *remembered* all my personal/professional insurance needs. When I asked for additional information on the third call he was able to provide me with details very quickly. He was also VERY patient. That is a big plus in my opinion. It illustrated a high level of respect for my needs. I also found when I called back and asked to talk with the initial agent, the person who answered the call was able to get in contact quickly and my agent responded and returned the call within 5-10 minutes. The transaction was smooth, and I think it's a good sign should I ever need to make a claim. I highly recommend BizInsure.
Poetic F.
21:00 07 Apr 21
The rep was extremely helpful actually lowered my quote and made sure I was covered to fit my needs with my growing business! 5star!!
Franklin B.
19:04 16 Mar 21
Excellent service and prices.
Cassiopée V L.
23:13 09 Mar 21
Mr. Daniel Scott was very responsive to my professional needs.
Stephanie W.
17:38 18 Feb 21
Eugene deserves a raise! First time purchasing insurance and he made the process so simple for me. His patience and attention to detail left me feeling confident in my decision to choose BizInsure. Gracias Eugene!
Esined P.
23:32 17 Feb 21
The customer service provided by Jose was outstanding. He explained everything in a very clear/logical way and answered all of my questions. After providing all the information to obtain general liability insurance, Jose sent me the declaration page of the insurance for review. All of the information matched what I provided over the phone and there were no typos. The next day I called back to purchase the insurance which was easy and fast. Overall, my experience with BizInsure including the customer service by Jose exceeded my expectations.
Joe W.
03:29 12 Dec 20
Hiscox/BizInsure made getting Liability Insurance very easy and reasonable.I expected it to be a long and complicated process and it was a nice surprise that they made it so uncomplicated. Thank you. Lisa
Lisa W.
21:51 24 Nov 20
Eugene was incredible. I called 4 other brokers before him who were impossible to get any help.
rhonda H.
23:26 12 Nov 20
Very quick to get in touch with you and good with follow up. Had some trouble retrieving my quote to log into my account initially but Daniel assisted me and the changes were made to get me into my account. Great value for the money.
Fran S.
16:34 20 Sep 20
Very happy to be insured with this company. Professional, Timely, very helpful. Thank you Juan, you made it so much easier for me to understand.
Aileen D.
19:55 15 Sep 20
This company responded when I needed them to respond while facing a deadline. They are an excellent choice for business Insurance.
Michele H.
01:52 12 Sep 20
Jose Quintero took such great care of me and was very patient explained everything I did not understand and got me set up quickly. Fabulous customer service
Christina R.
02:41 27 Aug 20
I can't say enough good things about Daniel Santos kind and effective communication skills as an insurance agent. Daniel was so pleasant, friendly and efficient with helping me obtain insurance as a teacher. If I were to give Daniel a grade, he has earned an At . He made the process easy to understand, it was far easier than what I anticipated. Nancy S.
Nancy S.
00:47 26 Aug 20
I was in need of professional liability insurance for my sole proprietorship. A friend referred me. Everythng was quick and simple and AFFORDABLE!
hope J.
20:31 25 Aug 20
If you need Private Home Care Provider insurance for your company, BizInsure, LLC can get it for you!
Pamela C.
16:45 24 Aug 20
Great and fast service!!!! The representative was very professional!!!!
Tanya S.
19:51 14 Jul 20
I was tryi9ng to find commercial liability insurance for my new comp-any and BizInsure was easy to use and very affordable which is great for me as a new business.
Jimmy S.
19:01 14 Jul 20
Great service insurance prices are great for professionals looking to get insurance for businesses....
Rhonda G.
22:34 22 Jun 20
The provided very professional service and made the process easy.
Paul R.
21:51 04 Jun 20
Bradley Hoyle from the Biz Insure team was excellent to work with. Everything was quick and smooth. Great service, much appreciated!
Kristene S.
02:03 04 Jun 20
Anthony Spencer was great!! Very quick response time!! He was very Professional! I would suggest him because he helped me find a affordable rate and explained all the technicalities..
Fre H.
16:38 28 May 20
I was referred to Bizinsure by a industry trade group that I am a member of. It was easy to get a quote online and then received excellent customer service from Bradley H. to complete my policy purchase over the phone. I have shared this company information now with other business owners for their policy needs.
Dawn T.
22:11 08 May 20
This company was very precise with explaining services and made sure I chose the right business insurance coverage, great customer service at purchasing.
Nekeisha B.
01:30 05 May 20
Jasmine Q
14:31 02 Dec 19
Trish is the most patient, professional and understanding insurance agent I’ve ever worked with. Trish has taken care of all my business insurance needs for the last couple years. I am really happy that I found an insurance agent that I know will take care of me & all of my concerns. I feel like a valued customer & I appreciate the great customer service that I get every time!!THANK YOU!
Dr. Youssef C. A.
17:21 14 Nov 18
Tricia helped me get insurance for my business. The task of obtaining a quote was really starting to frustrate me until I was referred to BizInsure through a different agency. Tricia got me a quote fast, and even took a down payment over the phone and issued the proof of insurance the same day. a+ service, would do it again in a heartbeat!! Thank you!!
Josh M.
18:07 22 Jun 18
BizInsure was a great find! I did not have to fill out applications, and Tricia was able to quote and bind business insurance for me within half an hour.
Allison Y.
17:28 21 Jun 18
Started doing business again and needed a policy fast. Ramez was reasonable, helpful and the rates are OK. Buyer beware? Sure, for me it turned out OK this time. Worth a call.
Mark W.
23:42 13 Nov 17
Great customer service. I've been very inpressed with my dedicated representative that had helped me navegate my insurence needs. Thanks so much!
Graham B.
22:12 23 Jun 17

Popular Searches

Google Rating
Based on 89 reviews