Business Overview

Architecture firms may work for local, state, or national governments or for private companies that want to build buildings. They are engineering as well as design-driven and must solve many complex problems related to building structure as well as aesthetics. This business is needed today as competition in the country drives the need for expansion of infrastructure, business and, ultimately, new buildings and structures.

Who is this business right for?

This business is perfect for individuals who love to work with their mind and have good attention to detail. Long hours are part of the job and companies that put in proposals for major projects don’t always hear back right away so business owners need to be good at managing cash flow.

What happens during a typical day at an architecture firm?

Day-to-day activities of the company include designing for new projects and meeting with construction crews on current projects. Some architectural firms are very involved with the construction side of a project while others focus primarily on design.

Answering emails is also a big part of the job. Clients today often relay messages and send project details as email attachments. Another aspect of the job is meeting minutes and managing project scope. Because some clients may attempt to exceed the scope of their project, the architectural firm needs to maintain scope integrity and become de facto project managers.

What is the target market?

Ideal customers are large clients with deep pockets. Some of the best clients for an architecture firm will be local and state governments. Alternatively, a large company that needs extensive planning and design work done will be an excellent client.

The worst or non-ideal clients are those that have relatively small or multiple overlapping projects where the architecture firm will not be able to complete the entire project due to scheduling conflicts. These types of projects are usually designed to be taken on by multiple firms so that no one firm has control over a single project. However, they also make it difficult to profit from the work.

How does an architecture firm make money?

Architects make money by charging a fee for designing buildings, permanent and temporary structures, and for design consultations on construction projects. Some architecture companies also assist civil engineers on city planning.

What is the growth potential for an architecture firm?

You can start an architecture firm with just one employee: yourself. However, some firms hire as many architects as they can afford so that their company can take on additional and larger projects. A larger firm may also partner with smaller firms to take on large projects and to remain flexible.