7 Steps to a Happy Work Week as a Small Firm Architect

A Structured Monday Leads To A Happy Work Week

As the new year quickly approaches, we hear the annual recommendations for planning our year ahead. Every magazine and blog is running an article about how to plan for 2018. Although stating long term goals and planning for their success is important, I suggest that planning your week, every week, will put you closer to your desired target when this time rolls around again next year. Monday is the most important day of the week. What we choose to do on this day each week will set up our remaining days for success or doom us to a week of frustration. Here are seven steps to structure your Monday for a successfully happy work week:

1. No Monday Meetings

I’m sure you’ve heard me say this or seen my write it somewhere here on the blog in the past. In order Continue reading "7 Steps to a Happy Work Week as a Small Firm Architect"

Using Slack for Your Architecture Firm

Slack for Architects

This week I’m experimenting again here at the EntreArchitect blog. As my team and I consider new or improved ways of sharing knowledge to small firm entrepreneur architects throughout 2018, I produced this video for my YouTube channel. (It’s the first video on my personal channel. So, head over to YouTube and subscribe if you don’t want to miss my future posts.) In the first half, I share my thoughts on possibly ramping up our use of video here at the EntreArchitect Platform. It’s recorded in a “vlog” (video blog) style while out for my early morning walk. Please excuse the unshaven face. The second half of the video is an example of one way we could use the format to improve the way we share content. I will take you behind the scenes at my firm, Fivecat Studio, and share my workflow for the powerful Continue reading "Using Slack for Your Architecture Firm"

8 Reasons Why You Should Provide Construction Administration On Every Project

One of the most popular topics discussed throughout the EntreArchitect Community is the role of the architect during the construction phase. I am often surprised by the number of firms providing architectural design services and forfeiting the final phase of the process, Construction Administration. Here is a recent comment from the group;
“I need to get better at selling my clients on construction administration. Most think they do not need it and refuse it when offered. I had a recent client back out on (the service) because my drawings were essentially too well done. Once they saw the final drawings, they decided the contractor could handle it without my involvement.”
This is a common problem; architects offering Construction Administration and their clients opting out.

Construction Administration Is Not An Option

During the past few years, we’ve begun to discuss, as a profession, “taking back” the process, regaining control of Continue reading "8 Reasons Why You Should Provide Construction Administration On Every Project"

You Already Know How To Be Successful in Architecture

You already know how to be successful. You’ve read all the books. You follow the blogs. You listen to the podcasts. You are subscribed to all the most informative and inspirational newsletters. You have the information. You know how to succeed. So, why are you not crushing it? Why are you struggling to pay the bills each month? Why are you not spending more time doing the things you love doing? The formula to business success is simple. I’ve been writing about it for years.

How To Be Successful in Architecture

Here are the 8 steps to success in architecture:
  1. Develop a Life Plan
    1. What do you want your life to look like?
    2. What needs to be done in each area of your life to live the life you want?
    3. How are you going to get there?
  2. Develop a Business Plan
    1. How can you build a business to support your Continue reading "You Already Know How To Be Successful in Architecture"

Maybe You Should Just Q.U.I.T.

I decided to become an architect when I was 10 years old. I made the decision and never looked back. Another career was never even considered. Every step to become a licensed architect was calculated and scheduled for the result that has become my reality. I have always looked at this as a gift. I never needed to worry about my future. Not once did I doubt what I might do with my life. High school courses were selected specific to my inevitable destination. The shortlist for colleges was so simple to compile. The plan was so certain. I know many architects with similar stories. It is not uncommon to ask an architect for her backstory and have it begin with, “I always knew…” I, myself, always knew I wanted to be an architect… but, What if I was wrong? What if my prepubescent certainty lead me down the wrong Continue reading "Maybe You Should Just Q.U.I.T."

4 Steps to Higher Productivity as a Small Firm Architect

Finding The Time To Be An Architect

A little past 6AM, tunes from the local radio station wake me from a very deep slumber. (I set the alarm to 6:14, so I hear music rather than the daily ‘bad news” report. I am very serious about my “full media blackout“.) After making the family breakfast and keeping the kids focused on meeting the morning deadlines, I hustle the kids off to the bus stop. I work very hard to keep balance in my life. I’m a “scout dad”,  a “swim dad” and a “row dad”. I eat dinner with my family every evening (unless I have a conflicting client meeting). As an Entrepreneur Architect, that’s not an easy schedule, but it’s worth every sacrifice that it requires.

This is how you are going to be home for dinner each night and how you are not going to work weekends…

Continue reading "4 Steps to Higher Productivity as a Small Firm Architect"

Which Business Type is Best for An Architecture Firm?

My firm, Fivecat Studio, was founded in 1999. Annmarie and I were 29 years old. She was licensed. I was not. With no clients and no money, we launched the firm as a sole proprietorship; Annmarie McCarthy, Architect. Slowly, we grew the firm and in 2002, with my license in hand, we incorporated as McCarthy LePage Architects, PC. We knew from day one that we needed a way to differentiate ourselves from the many other local firms. McCarthy LePage Architects sounds very professional, but we do things differently. We needed a name that was a bit more personal, so we launched our brand, Fivecat Studio. When we decide to start our own firm, we need to make several critical decisions. One of the most important decisions we’ll need to make is which business structure best fits our new firm. The business structure we choose will have significant legal and tax Continue reading "Which Business Type is Best for An Architecture Firm?"

Getting It All Done

As an Entrepreneur Architect I wear many hats. I’m a designer, a draftsman, a project manager, a construction manager, a book keeper, a marketing director, a salesman, a customer service representative, an IT manager, a boss, a partner, a CEO, a COO, a CFO… the list goes on and on. And those are only the hats for my architecture firm. It can be very stressful. At times, it’s overwhelming. I have the same number of hours each day as everyone else. How does one get it all done?

…our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential.

David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (GTD), says, “our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and Continue reading "Getting It All Done"

Two Perspectives You Need to Launch a New Business as a Small Firm Architect

shutterstock_306538004 I recently reached a very big milestone. About eighteen months ago I dropped my daughter off for her first full day with her childminder (home-based daycare for non-Brits.) She was six months old and I was filled with those new parent anticipations: nervous, desolate, excited, hopeful. Not only was it a big day as a parent, it marked the beginning of a new journey in my career. I was starting my new business to support unconventional designers craft their career paths and create businesses around their aspirations, talents, and visions for impact.

But it wasn’t going to be easy

You know the saying hindsight is 20-20? Well, this post is all about hindsight. I’m going to give you a realistic perspective and mindset that I wish I had on February 17th, 2016. Now, I do not expect you to take it ALL on board immediately. This is a post
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Only Do What Only You Can Do

“Only do what only you can do” – Paul Sloane This quote from Paul Sloane (author of several books about ‘lateral thinking’) has been the most provocative and impactful lesson I have had to learn in my professional career. “Get the monkeys off your back” (perhaps taken from a quote by Anne Lamott) ranks a very close second, related to the same subject, ‘managing your own time’.

Become a Master of Managing Your Own Time

Since the only commodity we, as design professionals, have to ‘sell’ is TIME, I think we owe it to ourselves to learn how to master managing our own time. The better we become at mastering our own time, the better example we set for those in our organization, even if you’re not the ‘boss’. The goal being: everyone becoming a master of managing their own time. I must thank and give credit to my former
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Do Small Firm Architects Need Professional Liability Insurance?

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Professional Liability Insurance for Architects

Perfection is Impossible

Architects are inherently burdened with risk and liability for the services we provide. As licensed professionals we are legally responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the people using the structures we design. We practice under legal contracts requiring us to meet very high standards and provide services putting us at risk. We make thousands of decisions during the development of a typical architectural project. Perfection is impossible. We must protect ourselves, our firms and our families from the risk of legal action. We must have strict standards, policies and procedures to reduce possible errors and omissions. We must create business systems that make these processes routine and automatic during the development of every architectural project. We must be diligent and we must limit our exposure to action with a comprehensive professional liability insurance policy. I am not a big fan Continue reading "Do Small Firm Architects Need Professional Liability Insurance?"

Putting First Things First for Balance & Prosperity

First Things

How To Get To The Business of Your Business

In a recent conversation with a professional colleague who is a small firm practitioner (3 people total), he expressed his frustration with not being able to get to the ‘business of his business’. The demands of clients and project activities, plus other daily priorities leaves precious little time to do what he realizes is necessary to sustain his firm financially, from a management perspective. This young architect loves to spend the time required to develop the design excellence of his firm and all that entails on a project-by-project basis each and every day. After much thought he came to understand that his love of design was not something that required him to ignore the non-design business aspects of his practice. On the contrary, he decided to embrace the challenge of taking on the time-consuming and complex issues of the management side
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How To Sell As An Architect

sell as an architect

7 Sales Mistakes Keeping You From Signing the Projects You Want

Are you designing the projects you want? Are the projects you’re signing resulting in a profit for your firm? Want to learn how to better sell as an architect? Want to sign more of the projects you want and need? Take a close look at your firm’s sales process (if you have any process at all.) Here are 7 mistakes that may be costing your firm critical sales.

1. You don’t tightly target your prospects.

When business is slow, the temptation to tell your story to whomever will listen is great. After all, talking to someone – anyone – is more productive than sitting at your desk waiting for a potential customer to call. Right? Maybe not. Be choosy about the people to whom you “tell your story.” Use your existing client base to identify the characteristics of
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The Financial Chart of Accounts for Architects

Chart of Accounts This is a guest post written by Steve L. Wintner, AIA, Emeritus, an architecture management consultant and co-author of the book, Financial Management for Design Professionals: The Path to Profitability. To learn more about Steve, his firm Management Consulting Services or to dive deeper into the subject that Steve is sharing with us here at EntreArchitect, visit his website at ManagementConsultingServices.com.

The Financial Management Cycle

Effective financial management is a continuous, cyclical process. In setting up a financial management system, at what point and with what should you begin? An annual budget is developed on the basis of information contained in past financial reports. Financial reports use the budget as a benchmark for measuring actual financial performance. So which comes first? How do you develop an annual budget if you don’t have good historical data? What good are the financial reports without a reliable budget to compare them to? To
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How to Write a Business Plan for Your Architecture Firm in 60 Minutes or Less

business-plan-for-architects

A Simple Business Plan for Architects

No one told me that I needed to know how to run a business. I’m an architect. I just need to tack up my shingle, design great buildings and clients will come knocking. Right? Maybe… but whether clients come knocking or not, its not so simple to keep them knocking. The solution? Write a business plan. I know, I know; “I don’t need a business plan,” you say. “It takes too much time and effort.”

The knowledge you gain by the process of developing a business plan may be more valuable to you than the actual plan itself.

Wait! Before you discount my suggestion, think about it from a different perspective. A simple, stripped down perspective. Your first business plan doesn’t need to be a 100 page document, with financial projections and fully developed marketing strategies. In fact, I recommend that it not Continue reading "How to Write a Business Plan for Your Architecture Firm in 60 Minutes or Less"

Architect-Led Construction Management Services

CM Services During my interview with a potential client, I answer many questions. Most are very similar; How much will it cost? How long will it take? Are you available to start right away? Do you have any references? You know… all the questions they learn to ask from their favorite shows on HGTV. Another question that I’m often asked is, “Do you build the project too?” And like a good architect, I would explain the difference between architects and contractors and politely say, “No. Architects design the project. Contractors build them.” Then, about nine years ago, I changed my answer. “We sure do.” I would say.

Architect-Led Construction Management Services

Tired of watching our best projects be built by others and frustrated by the fact that the contractor earns significantly more money on each project than the architect, I developed an additional proposal and a new integrated process of Continue reading "Architect-Led Construction Management Services"

A Financial Management System for Architects

financial_management

This is a guest post written by Steve L. Wintner, AIA, Emeritus, an architecture management consultant and co-author of the book, Financial Management for Design Professionals: The Path to Profitability. To learn more about Steve, his firm Management Consulting Services or to dive deeper into the subject that Steve is sharing with us here at EntreArchitect, visit his website at ManagementConsultingServices.com.

A Financial Management System for Architects & the ‘P2P Format’

The vital relationship between your firm’s financial performance and its ability to fulfill its mission and achieve its vision is made possible through an ‘internal’ accounting practice referred to as ‘Financial Management’. Once that connection is clear to you, both your skill and interest in financial management will grow and your firm’s operations will, if you follow all of the lessons you receive, be enhanced. The P2P Format is a proprietary system created and developed by this author starting Continue reading "A Financial Management System for Architects"

A Financial Management System for Architects

financial_management2

This is a guest post written by Steve L. Wintner, AIA, Emeritus, an architecture management consultant and co-author of the book, Financial Management for Design Professionals: The Path to Profitability. To learn more about Steve, his firm Management Consulting Services or to dive deeper into the subject that Steve is sharing with us here at EntreArchitect, visit his website at ManagementConsultingServices.com.

A Financial Management System for Architects & the ‘P2P Format’

The vital relationship between your firm’s financial performance and its ability to fulfill its mission and achieve its vision is made possible through an ‘internal’ accounting practice referred to as ‘Financial Management’. Once that connection is clear to you, both your skill and interest in financial management will grow and your firm’s operations will, if you follow all of the lessons you receive, be enhanced. The P2P Format is a proprietary system created and developed by this author starting Continue reading "A Financial Management System for Architects"

A Financial Management System for Architects

financial_management2

This is a guest post written by Steve L. Wintner, AIA, Emeritus, an architecture management consultant and co-author of the book, Financial Management for Design Professionals: The Path to Profitability. To learn more about Steve, his firm Management Consulting Services or to dive deeper into the subject that Steve is sharing with us here at EntreArchitect, visit his website at ManagementConsultingServices.com.

A Financial Management System for Architects & the ‘P2P Format’

The vital relationship between your firm’s financial performance and its ability to fulfill its mission and achieve its vision is made possible through an ‘internal’ accounting practice referred to as ‘Financial Management’. Once that connection is clear to you, both your skill and interest in financial management will grow and your firm’s operations will, if you follow all of the lessons you receive, be enhanced. The P2P Format is a proprietary system created and developed by this author starting Continue reading "A Financial Management System for Architects"

A Financial Management System for Architects

financial_management2

This is a guest post written by Steve L. Wintner, AIA, Emeritus, an architecture management consultant and co-author of the book, Financial Management for Design Professionals: The Path to Profitability. To learn more about Steve, his firm Management Consulting Services or to dive deeper into the subject that Steve is sharing with us here at EntreArchitect, visit his website at ManagementConsultingServices.com.

A Financial Management System for Architects & the ‘P2P Format’

The vital relationship between your firm’s financial performance and its ability to fulfill its mission and achieve its vision is made possible through an ‘internal’ accounting practice referred to as ‘Financial Management’. Once that connection is clear to you, both your skill and interest in financial management will grow and your firm’s operations will, if you follow all of the lessons you receive, be enhanced. The P2P Format is a proprietary system created and developed by this author starting Continue reading "A Financial Management System for Architects"