Just add water: architecture startups!

Feast or Famine
January 8, 2016, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Startup

It’s the early days of 2016 and I’m clearly reminded that running a small business as an architect can be either a ‘feast or famine.’  I think back to this time last year, and I had three contracts signed and two prospective clients lingering in the background.  Five projects would’ve meant an immediate growth to the firm, while the three meant it would be a healthy if not nonstop deadline year.   This year, I have one large project and was feeling optimistic that it would be a financially and professionally healthy year for us.

The doom came in an email just one week into the year.  The project has been put on hold because the client has been hospitalized over the holidays. The first immediate reaction was concern for the client, whom we’ve grown to really enjoy our conversations and come to respect early on.  The second was that pit that hit in the middle of your stomach, as you recognize what that means for work. The idea that all your eggs are in one basket is never a good thing.

Juggling workflow is something that all architects need to excel at, regardless of whether you’re a startup or a well established office.  The impact can be catastrophic to a large firm who’s running a $2 billion urban development project, staffing a team of 75 to a solo startup practice that’s struggling to survive.  As architects, it’s a matter of constantly marketing in the background, and successfully converting prospectives into actual projects.

Last year, while I was struggling to keep up with every deadline, every urgent email that came rolling in, I think in hindsight that I shouldn’t have turned away projects but acknowledge that every project’s schedule shifts to all the tides and inclement weather.  That feast or famine, it’s better to keep aware of the future even if the present tells you otherwise.