Are you planning on starting your own engineering firm? This is one of the most rewarding ventures that you can take on as an engineer, and it puts you in complete control of your career. While there are certainly many perks to being your own boss, you will also find that starting an engineering firm is an enormous amount of work, and it can be hard to find success when you are competing for projects with larger, more established brands. With this in mind, read on for a guide on starting your own engineering firm that should help you to hit the ground running.
Conduct Market Research
As with any new business venture, it all starts with market research, and this is a stage that you need to take your time with. You need to determine who your competitors are and their strengths and weaknesses, who your target market is, and the current state of the industry. Carrying out detailed market research will help you to develop a business that can stand out from the crowd, appeal to your target customer, and know how to operate in today’s market.
Create A Business Plan & Mission Statement
Once you have conducted market research, you can then use what you have found to create a business plan. The business plan will be critical for guiding you in the early stages of your business, plus it will also be useful for securing funding (more on this below). You also should create a mission statement at this time, which will help to communicate the overall aim of the business and what separates you from the competition.
Engineering firms are not the cheapest new business ventures, so it is important that you secure funding and enough for you to get the business set up so that it can find success straight away. You need to calculate your various startup and ongoing costs, which are likely to include a business location, equipment, and machinery, staff costs, tech, and utilities. There are a number of different funding options to consider, and, ultimately, it will come down to personal preference and if you want to retain complete control of benefit from the help of outsiders. The main options for funding are:
- Bank loan
- Venture capitalists
- Angel investors
Take A Masters In Engineering
For those that are serious about starting their own engineering firm, a masters in engineering is an essential qualification. This will teach you both engineering and management skills that will help you to build and run a successful business, including industry-orientated knowledge surrounding key areas like budgeting, project management, people management and leadership, AI-driven decision making, and operations management. Additionally, you can take a masters in engineering that is 100% online, which means that it is easier to study while you build your business, and you can start applying what you learn immediately.
Build A Reliable Team
You need to give yourself plenty of time with the recruitment process as it is vital that you assemble a reliable, hardworking team. You need to identify the roles to be filled and then take your time to find someone that will be a good fit. Crucially, you need to have people that have a strong work ethic and will fit with the company culture, and you should prioritize this over experience. You can always develop your team, but things like attitude, work ethic, and reliability cannot be taught.
Create A Strong Online Presence
As with any business, you need to have a strong online presence in order to succeed. This is so that you are easy to find by your target market when searching for engineering firms and so that people can find out more about your company. The ultimate goal should be to have a professionally designed website that showcases your expertise (you also need to create a portfolio as you secure projects) and has detailed information about your firm. While creating this, make sure to use the services of an experienced digital marketing agency that will be able to increase your visibility online and direct traffic to your website.
You should also create social media profiles and keep them updated with the latest information from your business, including blog posts that your target market will find interesting and engaging. You should be active on these channels and use them as a way to engage with your target customer and showcase your expertise.
Another effective way to raise your profile and attract clients is through networking. You need all the help that you can get in these early stages, so attending industry events, connecting with local businesses, and trying to make connections both online and offline is key. Crucially, make sure that you are maintaining the relationships that you make over time and always be willing to do a favour to someone in your network when you are able to.
Stay Current With The Latest Trends
Engineering is a field that is constantly going through change, and the only way to find long term success is to stay current with the latest developments and trends. There could be global issues impacting the industry (such as COVID-19), client expectations may change, and new technologies like AI, VR, and robotics are constantly changing engineering. It can be hard to stay up to date with trends when you have a business to run, but the key is to immerse yourself in it by attending industry events, communicating with others in the field, participating in online communities, and reading respected publications and blogs.
Offer Diverse Services
There are many different areas of engineering, and in order to find success and build a name for yourself, it is important that you are able to offer diverse services. In a down economy, you do not have the luxury of focusing on a niche, and, instead, you need to be able to help clients in many different ways. This means that you may need to continue learning or build a team that will allow you to offer a range of engineering services.
Keep Your Costs Down
When first getting started with your engineering business, you need to try and keep your costs down. Obviously, this should never be at the expense of quality of service or make work too challenging for staff as this could end up costing more in the long run. Keeping your costs down will help you to maximize your bottom line and could be critical for surviving the challenging early periods when there might not be much money coming into the business.
You should use accounting software to keep accurate and up to date books and regularly go through your expenses to see if there are ways to make savings, including eliminating unnecessary spending and switching to different suppliers.
Make A Good First Impression
The key to success in engineering is making a good first impression with potential clients. Keep in mind that they will be meeting with multiple firms and getting a few different quotes, so you really need to make sure that you are making a good first impression and instilling confidence in potential clients. You really need to listen to what their needs are and demonstrate how you can help as well as make sure that you are portraying yourself and your business in a friendly yet professional manner. In addition to this, you need to be detailed with your quotes and get these sent across as quickly as possible.
Make Sure That You Have Insurance
You certainly do not want to find yourself in a legal or financial issue that could ruin your business before you have even had a chance to succeed. You should look into specialist engineer professional liability coverage to make sure that you have protection against legal, financial and repetitional damage. In addition to providing much-needed coverage, this will also give you and your team confidence knowing that you have protection in place.
Learn & Improve As You Go
When starting an engineering business, it is unlikely that you will be an overnight success. This is why you need to be patient and view it as a long-term journey, which means that you need to learn and improve as you go. You should always be seeking feedback, learning from any mistakes that you make, and developing both yourself and your team so that you can improve performance over time. You also need to add to your portfolio as you go and try to encourage referrals from existing customers.
Hopefully, this guide will come in useful for anyone looking to start their own engineering firm. It can be incredibly rewarding building your own engineering firm from the ground up and being your own boss, but this is also an industry that can be hard to succeed in. You need to know how to build a business with potential and what steps to take to hit the ground running, so make sure that you focus on the above areas, and you will hopefully go on to achieve great things.