Building Your Business


Running an architecture practice is like running a marathon. It takes careful planning, plenty of energy, and it takes time. Realizing your firm’s potential is a key element in conquering your
most pressing business challenges as you concentrate on growing your architecture business. It requires you to go beyond working hard and smart.

you’ll read about:

• Finding the right positioning and building your brand

• Using networking and social media to nurture your business
and reputation

• Staying balanced as you win and retain new clients
so you can achieve sustainable success and continue
to move your architecture firm forward

Building your brand for your architecture firm is about working smart as well as hard, especially when you’re first starting out. But growing the business shouldn’t keep you up at night. Finding a niche can help you market your firm more efficiently. Learn to describe your mission in varied ways to appeal to a range of clients. Put social media to work to help build your reputation, boosting your efforts to take your firm to the next level.

1. Stand out in a niche. BUILDING YOUR BRAND’S BUSINESS
One of the largest concerns of any business – be it an architecture, interior-design, or civil Engineering firm – is to secure enough work to be sustainable. Most of the time, the answer is to try and appeal to as wide a scope of potential clients as possible. The problem with that logic is that, by appealing to the largest possible audience, a fledgling business can be easily dwarfed by the incumbents.
Rather than striving to be a big fish in a big pond, start your business as a small fish in the
smallest-possible pond. By focusing your marketing and branding efforts in an isolated niche of
your industry’s larger market, your firm stands a much better chance of becoming a star.
Excelling in a given niche can only serve to bolster your success at later efforts to expand into
additional market niches, with greater chances of a winning larger percentage of available projects.

2. Vary your message to sustain your mission.
So once you have decided on your firm’s niche in the industry – your specialty – the more traditional
branding efforts can begin. Instead of trotting out the company line at the drop of hat, try changing it
up. Take on the challenge of not explaining your firm’s services, ideals, or mission statement the same
way two times in a row. This may seem contrary to the notion of developing and adhering to mission
statements and elevator pitches, but in reality, it’s just the opposite.
No one benefits from the oversimplification of complex ideas. Using buzzwords or other snazzy jargon
to describe your business does it a disservice, because of course what you do is not simple at all.
Possessing an understanding of your firm’s goals, ideas, and services to such a complete degree enables you to discuss them using everyday language at any given moment. This level of familiarity brings a more intimate level of understanding than memorizing a tagline ever could.

3. Don’t underestimate social media.
Once you have a complete understanding of your firm, you are going to need a venue to
show off your new conversational level of knowledge.
The web’s hottest zones for branding success (and challenges) are social networks. Carefully
choosing a limited number of networks – or even a single network – is an effective strategy
to begin with. This limited scope could give your firm the best possible chance to allocate the
necessary resources to make the most of your chosen network. But starting out small doesn’t
mean you can’t go big later, once your firm has established a successful track record.
There is no doubt that today’s consumers are savvier than ever before. This creates
challenges for today’s businesses that could never have even been imagined in decades past.
Still, the same situation that creates challenges also creates opportunities.

If you’re ready to pull away from the pack, you need to draw attention to your
architecture firm and build a memorable reputation, Curt Moreno recommends
the following three tips to get you started. Even if these efforts don’t result in
overnight success, you’ll be building a better business in the long run.

1 Market your firm better by finding the right niche

2 Appeal to a wider range of clients by describing
your services differently

3 Make social media your friend

3 Things to do
for 5 Minutes
a Day to Grow
Your Business

In addition to marketing their firm‘s brand carefully and maintaining strong client relationships, business owners know how important it is to keep in touch with trends in the industry. Ann Bouleanu suggests three ways architects can better position their firms for growth by dedicating just five minutes per day.

Staying on top of small-business trends, marketing, and maintaining strong client relationships are the
cornerstones of business success. With little time to spare and a constantly busy schedule, however,
it can be difficult for some firms to bring in new business while trying to focus on the daily ins and outs of running a company.

In order to stay afloat and thrive financially, it’s vital to keep new business flowing in. This doesn’t have to take all day, though – here are three things you can do for five minutes a day to grow your business.

1. Check in with clients

Do you have a project currently underway with a variety of clients? Set aside a few minutes
each day to check in with one or more of these customers to see how things are progressing.
An email doesn’t take long, but it will make a huge difference with regard to how your
business is perceived. Excellent client-relationship management can lead to word-of-mouth
references, which are the crux of many business plans.
Checking in regularly with clients during projects also has other added benefits. Developing a
strong relationship with a client during the design process opens the lines of communication,
which means customers will feel comfortable coming to you with any issues they may have,
ensuring better customer service. Effective communication also opens the door for further
conversations down the line – after a project has been completed, a business owner can
reach out to past clients to ask them how they felt about their experience, and whether they
have any references for future business endeavors. Tapping these previous customers for
testimonials is yet another way architects can drive new interest in their business.

2. Look for networking opportunities.

On any day of the week, there are countless networking events happening around the country.
Luckily for those who aren’t exactly fond of networking, there are also online networking sites
that can similarly do the trick. On LinkedIn, for example, there are multiple groups dedicated to
discussing small-business issues, starting creative endeavors, retaining clients and more. Take
a few minutes each day to look around on these sites and read up on industry trends and see
what the competition is up to.
Attending networking events can also be a great way to bring in new business. Schedule out
a time – say, once a month – when you’ll make your way to a networking event, hand out
business cards, and talk to potential clients and collaborators. Every day, look around online for
new networking opportunities, and mark them down in your calendar. After just a few minutes
each day, you’ll have scores of networking opportunities available at your fingertips. Networking
is still one of the best ways to bring in new clients and achieve success, so don’t be shy.

3. Get on social media.

A comprehensive social-media and marketing strategy can make a world of difference to a
business, and it can be an effective way to bring in new business. What’s great about socialmedia
platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is that once a firm has set up a profile,
it can improve brand reputation and pull in new clients in just a few minutes’ worth of work.
Architects should take five minutes out of their schedule every day to check social media
accounts. Platforms connect customers directly to a business, and that’s something architecture
firms should take advantage of. Customers often head online to rate services and products,
ask owners questions, or even make suggestions for how to improve the customer experience.
A small-business owner should spend a few minutes each day checking out these comments,
taking into account what customers have to say. This is a great place to respond publicly to
comments and invite customer responses. Showing responsiveness and a willingness to interact,
a business built up with social activity catches the eye of social consumers.

Another great thing about social media is that companies can show off new products,
designs and collaborations, or share company news that would interest potential clients.
According to Business Insider, entrepreneurs should view social-media outlets as a virtual
marketplace where customers gather. It’s a space where architecture firms can find out more
about their customers, advertise to specific users, and build a modern, tech-savvy brand.
A strong social media presence is hugely important in today’s digital era and can grab the
attention of potential clients in an instant.
No matter how busy you are, be sure to take a few minutes each day to share a link or news item or to correspond with the public on social media. It’s definitely worth your time.

Encouraging a steady flow of new business is an essential element of growing your business. Even if a busy schedule can make it difficult to prioritize the process. Anne Bouleanu recommends doing the following three things every day for five minutes to keep your business thriving.

1 Keep in touch with clients to keep lines of
communication open

2 Look for networking opportunities to keep our finger
on the pulse and build new customer relationships

3 Actively use social media to draw attention
to your firm’s brand

Achieving balance can be a struggle for many architecture firm principals. Daniel O’Donnell
encourages businesses to try these four steps – performing pro bono work, pursuing online leads
quickly, prequalifying your clients and budgeting your marketing wisely – to uncover new ways to
grow your client base and stay in balance.

One of the biggest questions for a business owner is how much time to dedicate to contracted
clients versus prospects. As an architect, understanding that balancing act and managing your
time between existing and newclients is crucial.

of your company’s future
revenue will come from just 20 %
of your existing customers.

Furthermore, finding new clients can dig into your bottom line. According to the consulting firm Lee Resource, attracting prospects will end up costing you five times more money than holding on to
current clients. So on the one hand, putting too much emphasis on pursuing new clients can be a pitfall for your business. On the other, if you depend 100 percent on your established client relationships, you run the risk of stagnating and watching your work (and possibly company) dry up. So when the time is right, you need to fill the pipeline. Here are four things to do in pursuit of
new clients.

1. Do spec work to establish a presence.

Doing pro bono work does more than make you feel better about yourself and your business.
Taking on the occasional project for a nonprofit helps the common good and can have the
secondary benefit of generating promotion for your business. Case in point: The 1+ organization
brings nonprofits together with architecture and design firms willing to do pro bono work with at
least 1 percent of their time. The Public Architecture firm launched 1+* after taking on a passion
project to design a temporary public park at 17th and Castro Plaza in San Francisco. The result?
Public Architecture garnered press in the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times, and former
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke at the project’s opening*.
Naturally, volunteering your time to help people or a community in need should be your number
one goal in taking on pro bono work. Otherwise, if karma has anything to say about it, the press
and accolades won’t be chasing you down the street to pat you on the back.

2. Follow up on leads to grow your client base. 

The Wall Street Journal recommends responding to information requests or downloads
as quickly as is feasibly possible. Locating new clients can get competitive, and time isn’t
necessarily on your side, so following up with an online prospect requires digital dexterity and
sufficient staffing for client-relationship management.
The Journal also indicated a third-party service provider such as LeadQual* – which charges
upwards of $5 per lead – will contact prospects within 50 seconds and continue working to
bring the client around. Yes, that requires some extra capital set aside specifically for winning
new clients, but it’s worth considering if you have a hard time managing online leads.

3. Prequalify prospects to increase efficiency. 

Don’t get ahead of yourself and assume anyone who’s been in touch with you will instantly
become your lifelong client. The Next Web recommends that businesses develop a list
of criteria that they should use to evaluate prospects before pursuing them with all your
First, make sure the products or services a potential client expresses interest in are part of your
company’s offerings. For example, if a business approaches you, an interior architecture firm,
looking for help with a new commercial development, but you don’t have the resources to
pull off this kind of project, it might be better to refer the business to another service provider.
And if the stars align and you provide exactly what your prospect is looking for, you still need
to make sure your schedules and budgets are compatible

4. Attract new clients with a smart marketing plan. 

According to Entrepreneur, marketing makes up roughly 10 percent of the overall budget for
the majority of startups – allegedly not enough. Marketing tactics for businesses are often
underfunded and less effective than they could be. To put this into some perspective: Barnes
and Noble spends about $10 per person for its marketing and advertising, while the telecom
firm Sprint spends upward of $315 per person. In its article on setting a marketing budget, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a bit more conservative and encourages businesses to really do the math. “Businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7 to 8 percent of their revenues to marketing … [assuming they] have margins in the range of 10 to 12 percent.”

While the goal is to maintain secure, longstanding relationships with clients, there’s always room to grow and build new bridges. As bestselling author and marketing guru Seth Godin says,

“Change is not a threat,
it’s an opportunity.
Survival is not the goal,
transformative success is."

Business owners work hard to find the right balance in their quest to create winning proposals and grow their client base. If you’re looking for ways to stay agile, Daniel O’Donnell recommends trying out these four steps to keep you on your mark and ready to respond to changes as they arrive.

1 Give a little away in spec work to enhance
your reputation

2 Prequalify potential new clients to increase efficiency

3 Promptly chase down online leads to keep your
business growing sensibly

It takes time and some strategic planning to successfully build your brand, nurture it, and acquire new clients. Realizing your firm’s potential helps you discover new ways to conquer your most pressing business challenges, which in turn allows you to focus on finding new clients and writing winning
proposals. As your reputation and your business grow, it’s important to stay in shape – both financially and mentally. After all, more clients mean more work, and a good work-life balance helps you go the distance.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Contact Form for MetamorphosisDesign.Org


Email *

Message *