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When Annmarie and I launched our architecture studio in 1999, we knew that we wanted to give our firm a unique identity. Every other firm in the region was named for their founders. Another “Smith and Smith Architects” was not what we wanted to be. (No offense to any Smith and Smiths out there.) Our plans were to create a firm unlike anyone else and we needed a name to separate us from the pack.

After a few days of considering alternatives, the name Fivecat Studio consistently rose to the top. Clearly unique, the name resonated with us, as it represented well our personal dedication to homeless pets and our passion for animal rescue. It was a name that would help us tell our unique story. It was a name on which we could begin to build our new brand of architecture.

A brand though, is so much more than an interesting name. There are hundreds of strong brands with names lacking imagination. Frank Gehry is a very strong brand. Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Zaha Hadid; each built a firm and a strong brand using their own names. For the rest of us though, creating a new entity filled with character and creativity will help us build a memorable impression.

A brand is not your name though, your logo or your marketing materials. Can you recall the logo for any of the firms I mentioned above? These elements can most certainly be ingredients in the recipe of a strong brand, but individually they are nothing more than business seasoning.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.” – Seth Godin

As your experience grows and your reputation builds, your brand will develop… with or without you. Your brand value is what others feel your brand to be. Your job is to plan, sculpt and manage your brand to tell the story that you want to be told. What is your story? What is the one unique thing you do better than anyone else? Where do you want to go? What do you want others to say when they talk about you and your firm? Why are you worth the value you are presenting to the world?

That’s your brand.

10 Rules for Building a Powerful Brand in Architecture

Want to build a powerful brand for your architecture firm? Start with these 10 rules:

1. A powerful brand tells your story. The name Fivecat Studio begins to tell the tale about who we are and where we come from. Even as the firm is transferred to future leaders, the name will carry on with a clear history of the firm. Our residential architecture continues to develop the story. Young families throughout the Hudson Valley have experienced our proprietary process and live their lives in architecture that have strengthened relationships and have brought families closer together.

2. A powerful brand is transferable. Building a powerful brand will allow you to separate yourself from the brand. As a leader in the firm, you may be and should be part of the brand, but brands that are built solely upon personalities die when that individual is no longer involved in the day to day business of the firm. A transferable brand will allow new people to grow into leadership positions without losing equity and requiring the brand to adjust.

3. A powerful brand is differentiating. The things that make your firm different from all others is a key ingredient in the recipe of success. As Annmarie and I built Fivecat Studio, we focused our brand building more on the experience of the process than the creation of the design. Although our architecture is viewed as top quality, our focus on people more than the project set us apart from other firms competing in our market.

4. A powerful brand begins as an empty container; a carrier of your reputation.Your brand starts at zero, empty of all forces and influences. As your firm grows, your brand grows with it, slowly filling the container with brand elements. Will you fill the container with your story, or will your clients fill it with theirs?

5. A powerful brand is unique. The strongest brands in the world are “the only”. There is only one Apple. One Disney. One Frank Lloyd Wright. Everything about these brands separate them from every other competitor.

6. A powerful brand is easily shared. Word of mouth is critical to the success of a small architecture firm. Crafting a story that can be quickly understood and easily shared will encourage your fans to talk about you, spreading your brand to their friends and acquaintances. Give your clients the script that you want them to use and they will share it with everyone they know.

7. A powerful brand defines a complete experience. When clients ask me what separates Fivecat Studio from other firms, I say that it is the experience of designing and building architecture that makes us unique. From the initial telephone call, through the first meeting, the design process and throughout the construction of their project, our focus on their experience, and ultimately their happiness, is what our brand is all about.

8. A powerful brand is easily identifiable. Your firm’s logo, its colors, it’s marketing materials, website and business cards, when developed to support the brand, will identify your company immediately upon first glance. Your telephone greeting, your interview process and your project management are all part of your brand. Your employees, your vehicles and your architecture should all reflect your brand and identify you without needing to say a word.

9. A powerful brand builds upon your greatest strength. What is the one thing that you do better than anyone else? If it is design, then build your brand upon that. If it is process, then build your brand upon that. If it’s your hand-holding customer service, then build your brand upon that. Building a brand upon your greatest strength will quickly set you apart from others.

10. A powerful brand evokes emotion. How did you feel the first time you held an iPad and swiped your fingers across the screen? As our clients watch their homes evolve and become the reality of the design, they are filled with excitement and anticipation. The emotions that your clients feel reinforce your brand’s value. Managing those emotions will help build your brand and support everything else you do.

Are you ready to build a powerful brand and marketing system for your small firm. Learn more about the EntreArchitect Build Your Brand Workshop, our 6-week curriculum-based training program for small firm architects starting on Tuesday, Juy 9, 2019.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com

The post 10 Rules for Building a Powerful Brand in Architecture appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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EntreArchitect by Mark R. Lepage - 1M ago
The Critical Differences Among Mission, Vision, Purpose, Strategy and Goals

Are you confused about the difference between mission and vision? Or, between purpose and mission? You’re not alone. I am frequently asked about the differences among mission, vision, purpose, strategy and goals… and where do values fit in?

Many people don’t care about definitions. That’s certainly unfortunate.

Having clear definitions distinguishes these important concepts. And since there is an order of operations, where each one drives the next, it’s important to understand how they relate and influence one another.

Ken Favaro in the Harvard Business Review says “ignoring, blurring, or misunderstanding concepts creates sloppy thinking, deciding, and doing at all levels of an organization.” For example, if you focus on goal-setting without considering the larger vision, you are likely to end up with goals that don’t matter.

However, since there are no commonly agreed upon definitions for any of these terms, you will need to decide which definitions make most sense to you. With that in mind, here are the definitions I’ve found most useful in my work over the past 30 years helping leaders create a compelling vision and identity the strategies to achieve it.

Mission and Purpose

Mission is about who you are. It answers the questions “What is our purpose?” and “Why do we exist?” Some people prefer to use the term Purpose, as there is less confusion about what it means, but essentially mission and purpose are synonyms and mean the same thing.

My definition: Mission is your purpose or reason for existence.

Vision

Vision is about the possibilities of what you can become. It encompasses purpose, but is broader. Vision provides a clear picture or mental image of the ideal end-state. Because mission (purpose) is a supporting factor of a clear vision, I include it as one of the components and suggest creating one statement that includes purpose, values and picture of the end result.

My definition: Vision is knowing who you are, where you’re going, and what will guide your journey.

“Who you are” is your purpose or mission. “Where you’re going” is the picture of the ideal state. “What will guide your journey” are your values. Values

Values are deeply held beliefs about what is right and good. They evoke standards that you care about deeply. They drive your behaviors and decisions. We all have values that guide our choices and actions, either consciously or unconsciously. When people in an organization share the same values, they will develop the collective habits that shape the culture of the company. To create an enduring vision, values must support the purpose.

My definition: Values are guiding principles that provide broad guidelines on how to behave on a day-to-day basis.

Strategy

Strategy explains how the organization will move forward. It describes the broad thrusts or themes from which specific actions arise. There might be three or four key strategies that drive the vision.

My definition: Strategy is a high-level method or plan of action that defines the path toward your vision.

Goals

Goals are the milestones that mark your progress toward your vision. They are the actions you intend to take along the path. They quantify and define the steps you will take.

My definition: Goals are the specific, measurable actions you intend to take.

The real differences among mission, vision, purpose, strategy, and goals.

Strategy and goals might change. For example, unforeseen events may throw you off course. A real vision is enduring. It might seem to change, but that’s a function of it becoming more clear as you move closer to it.

Vision and strategy are broad. Goals are focused and specific.

Personally, I don’t bother quibbling about whether you call your statement a mission statement or a vision statement, or about whether you have three separate statements or just one statement that includes everything – as long as you end up with clarity on who you are, where you’re going, what will guide your journey, and your next steps. What’s important is to create a common understanding and shared meaning throughout your team or organization about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

© Jesse Lyn Stoner 2018

This article is published with permission from Jesse Lyn Stoner granted to Steve L. Wintner, AIA Emeritus.

Jesse Lyn Stoner, founder of Seapoint Center, works closely with leaders helping them create collaborative, engaged organizations that make a powerful and positive impact on the world. A business consultant, coach, former executive, and bestselling author, Jesse has worked in a wide range of industries including Fortune 500s, small startups, government agencies, and nonprofits. Her clients include Edelman, Marriott, SAP, Stanley, Skanska, The Hartford, and Yale University, to name a few.

Jesse is coauthor, with Ken Blanchard, of the international bestseller Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision which has been translated into 22 languages. She is also coauthor of Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard et.al. And as a senior consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies, she helped create many of the programs and materials in the areas of vision, teams, and organization excellence.

Click here to learn more about Ms. Stoner and her organization, Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership.

The post The Order of Operations appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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EntreArchitect by Mark R. Lepage - 4M ago
Can Your Firm Benefit from a Third-Party Business Assessment for Architects?

As a busy architect and business-owner, it’s easy to become so focused on day-to-day tasks that we forget the importance of stepping back and taking in the big picture.

How is my business performing as a system?

What are the weak links that I don’t see?

What are my team’s unique strengths that we take for granted?

But even if you do have the time and the vision to reflect on your business, your individual perspective holds an inherent bias. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just that passing information through the same filter tends to yield the same results.

Getting a fresh perspective on your business performance can be highly valuable if the process is effective AND your mind is open to the results.

A few indications that you may be ready for a third-party business audit?

  1. Fresh incoming leads have dropped-off. You may be enjoying repeat business (and we hope you are), but are new opportunities pouring into the top of your sales funnel? This is a sign that your marketing program may need some retooling.
  2. Employees are leaving your firm with increased frequency. There may be trouble in the ranks; which can result from a stale or undefined firm culture, or worse, a toxic team member.
  3. Profitability is stagnant or falling. Of course, profitability can and will vary for a number of reasons. But if you find yourself consistently working harder with no results, this indicates that operational changes may be in order.
  4. Change is on the horizon. Whether you’re preparing for the retirement of a firm founder and/or identifying the next generation of leadership, planning for leadership transition unsettles even the most stable architecture firms. Expert guidance can be especially helpful during this phase of growth.

There are many options for approaching a third party business audit, ranging from free advice to professional consulting firms. As small firm owners, the professional can feel personal when asking for candid feedback, but ask yourself: How can I improve without honest feedback?

Ranging from free to fee, here are some techniques to get the feedback you need:

Ask Away!

Many firm owners take this unscientific (and free) approach to gathering outside opinions, which can be helpful but requires a grain of salt and lots of persistence. These options include online surveys (like SurveyMonkey), small focus groups, or one-on-one conversations. A few helpful considerations if you go this route:

  • Structure the conversation. Come prepared with a well-organized list of questions and be ready to facilitate the dialogue to get the specific feedback you need. Remember your most helpful critiques in design school? They were thoughtful and focused.
  • Consider the audience. You won’t want to get deep into operational challenges with a group of VIP clients, nor do you want to send a probing survey to your whole mailing list. Think about how the feedback you need matches the demographic you ask, and how private you want the responses to be.
  • If you ask, LISTEN. It is tempting to be defensive in a situation where you are opening yourself up to criticism. Resist the urge to counter comments with explanations about “why you do it that way.”
  • Say “thank you”. If someone offers their time to help you, send a small gift or thank you note to let them know you appreciate it. Added bonus: include a reference to one of their comments and how you plan to act on their observations.
Go Neutral

Never underestimate the power of a first impression! Engaging a neutral third party is an excellent way to understand how your messaging is being perceived. After all, this is how a prospective client or new employee will first experience your firm. Do all of your marketing channels reflect your brand values?

Invest in the Deep-Dive

Some professional business advisors specialize in the small architecture firm niche and can provide objective “first impression” feedback combined with industry standard metrics and actionable recommendations for improvement. When researching business assessment providers, be sure to consider:

  • How well do they understand architectural firms of my size? Sure, some business mantras unilaterally apply, but architecture firms between 4-20 employees have significantly different concerns than those with over 30 employees.
  • Are they looking at the whole firm as a system? A well-performing firm aligns marketing, business development, finance, HP, operations, and culture. Effective advisory services do the same. Before investing in one targeted specialist, consider an overall business assessment to ensure that you understand how specific challenges are interrelated, and which to prioritize.
  • How are next steps resolved? A well-developed business assessment will provide prioritized, actionable recommendations. Be sure you understand the degree to which your consultant can help you execute these recommendations, and/or the degree to which additional outside specialists will be required at additional cost.

However you choose to solicit feedback on your architectural firm’s performance, try not to get overwhelmed by items that you can’t tackle right away. Use this valuable information to make a short and long-term improvement plan. Enlist other firm members to champion goals. Most importantly, start the exercise with an open mind. The feedback will likely include all of the ways your firm is exceptional, as well.

Emily Hall is the Vice President of Marketing at Charrette Venture Group (CVG), a unique investment company focused on growing small-to-midsized architecture firms. She brings over 18 years of architectural marketing experience to CVG, with a focus on discovering a firm’s authentic personality and using it to drive strategy. Emily served for over six years as Senior Associate and Director of Marketing and New Business Development at Union Studio Architecture & Community Design and for nine years at Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects, both architectural firms in Providence, Rhode Island that have experienced significant growth. She received a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island, a Master of Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design, and a Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College.

Charrette Venture Group is offering a discount on Business Assessments scheduled in March 2019. Take a deep-dive into the financial, operational, and marketing/business development health of your small architecture firm. It will reveal how and where you excel and identifies actionable areas for improvement. Schedule a quick call with CVG today to learn more.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / pathdoc

The post Seeing the Forest AND the Trees appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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Many (if not all) of us are using social media on a daily basis. Some of us restrict our time online to personal social interactions, while others use these powerful networking platforms to help promote our architectural businesses.

Social media can certainly be a powerful tool, but if not carefully and intentionally managed, our time online can waste away the precious few hours that we are afforded each day. There are a dozen different channels from which to choose. Each has its strengths and each has its weaknesses.

Understand the context to which you are posting. Take time to understand the demographics for each and confirm that your prospects are, in fact, available and ready to engage at the platforms on which you choose to spend your time and money. One platform may be your personal favorite over the many others, but are your prospective clients enjoying their time on that same platform?

I’ll save the topic of which platform works best for architects for another post. Let’s assume you have done the work to determine that one platform works best for your business.

With the context of that platform understood, how might we be more intentional about what we are actually posting? If we are going to be sharing information each day, how can we fine tune each post in a way that will make your social media content more sharable?

We have all seen content go “viral”. Maybe its a powerful video, awe-inspiring photo or an interesting article. What makes people privately consume some content, keeping it for themselves and what makes them compelled to share other content with family, friends and network? What makes some content “contagious”?

There are specific principles involved with this “contagious” content. There are ways to make your content more likely to be shared.

Researcher and author Jonah Berger in his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, identified six principles at work in the most shared messages, products and ideas. He calls these ingredients his 6 key STEPPS that cause things to be talked about, shared and imitated.

Six STEPPS of Contagious Content

Social Currency – Provide valuable symbols of status that people can show to others. Make people feel like “insiders”. Provide them with information that others will find valuable. Give them knowledge that others want and need and people will share it with those who want and need it.

Triggers – Design products and ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and cues within. Where are our clients making the decisions that lead them to hire us? Most residential clients collect “wish list” images before they ever come to us for architectural services. Could we develop a tool that helps them with the process of dreaming before their project ever becomes reality?

Emotion – Focus on feelings. The most viral content surprises, makes people laugh, lights them up with anger or gives them a sense of awe. How can we develop content that makes people sense a powerful emotion?

Public – Design initiatives that advertise themselves and create behavioral residue that sticks around even after they bought the products or espoused the idea. My friend Sheri Scott’s app, Nester, provides a client with a simple tool to track and document the process of architecture through photos. When the project is complete, a book is published with the click of a mouse, ready to share with all their friends.

Practical Value – People like to help others. Develop a useful tool or checklist that makes the lives of your prospects easier or more manageable. If we show our prospects how our products and services will help them save time, live healthier or save money, they’ll share it.

Stories – Wrap your story around a broader narrative. Like a “Trojan Horse”, integrate your idea into the narrative, so that the story can’t be told without it. Are your designs or services developed in a way that a client can’t share their experience without talking about how you served them?

Social media is a powerful tool when used effectively. Consider these six principles as you develop your social media content and watch your readers become your greatest advocates.

Question: Have you had social media content “go viral”? Share your story and identify the principles used from above.

Share your thoughts below in the comments of over at The EntreArchitect Community private Facebook group.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund

The post Make Your Social Media Content More Shareable appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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There’s a very simple, easy method to demonstrate to your staff the critically important issue of how to constantly improve effectiveness and efficiency.

We have all heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder” and yet I would venture to guess that few of us really understand how to apply that lesson on a daily basis.

June Jewell, a professional colleague of mine, has written an excellent book, Find the Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increasing Profits in Architecture, Engineering and Environmental Firms, that encourages firm leaders to enhance the best practices of their firm and with it, the profitability of every project. The book is filled with excellent, easy to understand recommendations for improving the way we go about the daily tasks involved in running an organization, regardless of its size. And, as good as all these recommendations are, for me, it’s the clarity that each chapter provides as an insight to working smarter.

Not to oversimplify the effort and time it takes to learn how to discipline oneself, about anything, June has nonetheless, brilliantly introduced a logical, easy way to comprehend the method and means for enhancing a firm’s revenue, which might otherwise be overlooked or lost due to the lack of a best practices discipline for its operations.

However, what resonated most for me was the obvious potential that exists in what I refer to as The Power of 1%.

Throughout one of the early chapters, June uses numerous examples to illustrate The Power of 1% to enhance a firm’s revenue in numerous ways. With this in mind, I will illustrate using the following example:

The Power of 1% in Action

Given the following four metrics:

Simply by adjusting each of the four metrics above by only 1%, we would increase Net Profit by 9%.

How To Leverage The Power of 1%

To make this possible, the following “behavior modifications” would be necessary:

  1. The daily timesheet policy and process must become 100% adhered to, by all firm members, no exceptions.
  2. A targeted Utilization Rate must be published for every member of the firm, and every effort made to meet this target as a minimum goal for each week.
  3. “Scope creep” must be eliminated by providing every project team member with an electronic and hard copy version of each project’s contracted scope of services.
  4. Every project fee proposal must begin with the development of a project fee budget and schedule, which includes a “work plan” indicating the allocated hours, per phase, per task, per project team member for the duration of the project, as scheduled. This work plan is to be provided to each team member.

There are numerous other examples of how The Power of 1% can be demonstrated that amplify its positive impact on any firm’s “Bottom Line” (Net Profit before Distributions and Taxes).

There are several other modifications, as well, that will become self-evident, over time, as this change evolves for each firm.

The question is, “Will every member of the firm recognize the enormous power of making just a 1% improvement, each day, in all things undertaken, whenever and wherever possible, to realize the incredible benefits that would proportionally accrue to each firm member?”

It’s a simple choice to work smarter, not harder, and enjoy the gain (much) from the pain (not much) that would be required for this to be possible.

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 (watch for an updated edition coming soon). 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.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Asier Romero

The post The Simple Profitable Power of 1% appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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A featured clip from this week’s episode at EntreArchitect Podcast

How To Improve Your Architecture Fee Proposals with Ian Motley - YouTube

Listen to the entire interview with Ian Motley of Blue Turtle Consulting

Subscribe to EntreArchitect Podcast

Subscribe to our new YouTube channel

The post How To Improve Your Architecture Fee Proposals appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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EntreArchitect by Mark R. Lepage - 7M ago

Anntics Christmas 2018 - A Home for the Holidays - YouTube

The post Merry Christmas 2018 appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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The Passion Profit Cycle of Success

Prior to starting our own firms, we business-owner architects experienced an “entrepreneurial seizure”, as Michael Gerber so accurately described in his book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. It’s the precise moment when a passionate employee commits to starting her own firm. Frustrated by the process (or lack of process) established by her employer, she decides that she can do better.

Do you remember that moment?

The passion required to overcome the fear and uncertainty of launching a start-up business is a very powerful emotion. It’s what takes us from “business-owner architect” to Entrepreneur Architect. It’s what gets us out of bed every morning and keeps us going years later.

Passion for what we do though, will only take us so far. To become a great firm, a truly great business success, we must also have a passion for profit.

I know… “Profit?”

To some, profit is a dirty word, but the reality is that without profit, your passion for being an architect will very quickly evaporate. It is the passion for profit that allows us to grow our firms and continue to build successful practices.

Much like winning a game, earning profit feels great. Not just emotionally, but physically. Neuroscientist and clinical psychologist Ian Robertson writes about the the neuroscience of success in his book, The Winner Effect. Earning a profit (winning in business) physically alters our brain chemistry and increases the production of dopamine. It sharpens our focus and desire for continued success. Earning profit literally causes us to become passionate about earning more profit.

The lack of profit alters our brain chemistry as well. Running a firm without profit is frustrating and frightening. We become depressed, disinterested and our passion for the profession fades. During good times and bad, the dangers threatening our firms not only come from outside pressures but literally from inside our heads.

Six Ways To Earn More Profit As A Small Firm Architect

So what can we do?

Here are six approaches to earning more profit as a small firm architect:

1. Cut your expenses.

Look at your books. (You do keep a record of your earnings and expenses, right?) Review your expenses and eliminate any unnecessary or wasteful spending. You may be surprised by how much of your earnings are used for supplies and services you don’t really need. The quickest way to earn more profit is to spend less on expenses. Make a list of all your expenses and cut the bottom 10% right out of your budget.

2. Eliminate debt.

When times are tough, it is so easy to get snared in the trap of business debt. Credit cards and lines of credit shift from “safety net” to reliable source of “income”. Before you know it, you’re maxed out, paying massive amounts on interest and working with no net at all. Make a plan to reduce and eventually eliminate your debt. Develop a plan to save a percentage of your revenue and start working with retained earnings to pay for required expenses.

3. Increase payroll.

Huh!? Increase payroll to earn more profit? Yes. Healthy businesses must grow. You can’t do it all yourself. With the right team in place, you can take on bigger and better projects. Expenses will be distributed among more income sources and you will earn more profit. Be careful though, hiring the wrong people may cost you much more than you’ll be paying them.

4. Raise your fees.

Competition has increased among architects and some prospective clients are selecting firms based on cost. Many architects have cut their fees to the point where profit is impossible. Remember, without profit our firms will fail. Higher fees will not only keep your firm running strong, but will indicate the true value you bring to a client.

5. Expand your services.

Architects must think beyond the traditional design studio business model. Back is 2007, with the last economic storm heading our way, my firm expanded services to include Interior Design and Construction Management Services. This change in offerings allowed us to increase potential revenue with every project. Fees, once paid to outside designers and contractors, are now earned by our firm on select projects. Not only has potential profit resulting from each project increased significantly, but we have more control over the final quality of our projects resulting in happier clients.

6. Understand your numbers.

We are architects, not number crunchers. We didn’t get into this profession to play with financial spreadsheets. But we also chose to start our own firm. We gave into the “entrepreneurial seizure” and now we are running a small business with clients and employees and never-ending monthly expenses. The five steps above are great ways to increase your profit, but unless you know your numbers and can actually plan for a profitable year, the chances of running a successful firm without fear and uncertainty are very, very low. Start with your Chart of Accounts, then develop a Profit Plan and Annual Budget for 2019. Track your Profit or Loss on a monthly basis and develop Key Financial Performance Indicators that will indicate the health of your business in real time.

Without passion there will be no profit and without profit you will soon lose your passion. To be a successful Entrepreneur Architect we must have both. It is the Passion Profit Cycle that builds great firms and allows us to continue to do what we love most; practice architecture.

Question: Are you passionate about being an architect? Are you passionate about profit?

You should be… You need to be.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Oliver Le Moal

The post Six Ways To Earn More Profit As A Small Firm Architect appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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This is the third guest post by Ashley Gartland in a series of three about simplifying your business.

Save Time and Make More Money By Developing a “Signature Package”

Do you spend too much time creating custom proposals and delivering custom work to your clients?

Nine times out of ten, my business coaching clients answer this question with a definitive YES.

They have good intentions for creating custom proposals and delivering custom work. It feels generous, personalized and valuable. It also seems like the route they have to take because they don’t always see the commonalities that exist from one project to the next.

But they also know that all those proposals and all that custom work consumes their time and energy. It makes it hard to take steps to simplify their business, steps like developing systems and workflows or streamlining their sales process and customer journey. Not to mention, it makes it challenging to reach the next level.

So when I tell them we can streamline things by developing a set of signature offers or service packages for their business, I can almost hear them breathe a sigh of relief.

I’m guessing that you too can see the logic in creating signature offers or service packages – especially if you’re spending all your time doing custom proposals and work right now. But just to make sure, let me outline a few more ways this change can benefit your business.

Signature offers or service packages can help you…

  • be more productive, freeing up time and space for other things
  • focus on delivering the services you do best – and let go of the things you don’t enjoy doing
  • set yourself apart from the competition in your area
  • improve your customer experience
  • increase your sales

If you’re ready to start creating your signature offers or service packages, here are three tips to consider:

1. Don’t try to create ALL the offers. You don’t need dozens of services and packages to serve your clients well – in fact, having too many will overcomplicate your life and confuse potential clients (and confused people rarely buy). For starters, I recommend coming up with three services or packages. That’s all you really need.

2. Do consider what you love doing – and what you don’t. Business owners often struggle to figure out the features and deliverables they should include in their offers or packages. I find that the most obvious place to start is by identifying the things you love doing for clients – and the things you don’t enjoy working on – so you can build your offers around things you enjoy.

3. Don’t overthink your pricing. Putting a price tag on your signature offers or service packages can feel challenging because it involves multiple factors. To uncomplicate the pricing process, I ask my clients to consider two things. First, I ask them to consider the time and energy they’ll spend delivering a service or package. Then I ask them to consider the result they’re creating for their clients – and what that result is worth. Once they consider these two things, they can almost always name a price for their package that we can then refine as needed.

These are three solid, simple tips that will help you start mapping out your signature offers and service packages. But if you get started and find you’d like more support, you can reach out to me directly at ashley@ashleymgartland.com.

Ashley Gartland works with small business owners and service-based entrepreneurs whose business is doing well but who feel like a hot mess behind the scenes – and they know it’s holding them back from reaching the next level. She helps them simplify and streamline their business so they can experience more growth and fulfillment in their work and more freedom in their life. Ashley’s work has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post and Being Boss and she’s appeared on The Startup Sessions, Courage & Clarity and the Creative Empire podcasts. She lives for rainy days, is an avid runner and prefers kombucha over coffee to fuel her day. To learn more about Ashley’s work and get her free guide, 5 Steps to Simplify Your Business, just click here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / MJgraphics

The post How Custom Proposals Overcomplicate Your Business appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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This is the second guest post by Ashley Gartland in a series of three about simplifying your business.

Marketing Without the Overwhelm

Let’s just call it like it is: marketing takes up a lot of time in your business – not to mention space in your head.

Between social media, content marketing, networking and pitching, you’re working what feels like a full-time job trying to get the word out and stay on people’s radar – and not surprisingly so, because big companies actually have marketing people whose only job is to handle these things.

And while you’d love to hand off your marketing completely, you don’t feel ready yet. That means you have two options: neglect it or find a way to systematize your strategy so you can manage your marketing without using so much time and energy.

I’m a fan of the second option because I believe you need to consistently market your business if you want to grow and reach new people, not to mention reach your revenue goals.

But I don’t believe you have to go into overwhelm to market your business effectively.

Instead, I encourage my business coaching clients to adopt a Simplified Marketing Plan, which is both a day-to-day AND big picture plan that helps them execute their marketing efforts with ease.

After teaching this system to dozens of business owners, I now know how useful it is. I know that it can help you manage the demands of marketing your business without feeling like you’re spinning into overwhelm. I know it can help you stay organized and focused on the right marketing activities for your particular business. I know that sticking with it will decrease your stress, improve your consistency and help you feel like you’re finally staying on top of your marketing.

The Simplified Marketing Plan

If that sounds like something you’re seeking, here’s how you can create your own Simplified Marketing Plan:

1. Make a list of all the marketing activities you currently do in your business. You can also include things you’d like to do or think you should do but don’t currently make time for.

2. Divide your list into specific categories. The main categories for your plan will be: daily activities, weekly activities, monthly activities and quarterly activities. Daily activities are generally tasks like posting to social media. Weekly activities might include blogging or writing a newsletter to your list. Monthly and quarterly activities are often bigger projects like submitting a feature to a publication, writing a guest post for a popular blog or participating in a live event.

3. Plug the categories and tasks into your favorite project management tool. I use Trello, but something as simple as a paper planner works too.

4. Get specific. For each task on your list, add details such as dates, contacts, copy or checklists that will help streamline the work.

5. Commit to a schedule. Pick a time of day (or week) to check in with your Simplified Marketing Plan so you can plan, schedule and/or execute the tasks inside it. I recommend spending 30 to 60 minutes a day on it to start.

That’s your big picture overview of how a Simplified Marketing Plan looks, and how you can create it. But I also know that this is one of those things that’s easier to show you than to write about so I also want to invite you to check out my free Simplified Marketing Plan training, which will walk you through each step in detail and show you exactly how it can look. To watch the training, just click here.

Ashley Gartland works with small business owners and service-based entrepreneurs whose business is doing well but who feel like a hot mess behind the scenes – and they know it’s holding them back from reaching the next level. She helps them simplify and streamline their business so they can experience more growth and fulfillment in their work and more freedom in their life. Ashley’s work has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post and Being Boss and she’s appeared on The Startup Sessions, Courage & Clarity and the Creative Empire podcasts. She lives for rainy days, is an avid runner and prefers kombucha over coffee to fuel her day. To learn more about Ashley’s work and get her free guide, 5 Steps to Simplify Your Business, just click here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / mrmohock

The post How To Systematize Your Marketing appeared first on EntreArchitect.

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