establishing see arch.

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July 2019

By Sarah Ebner, Principal

#startingastudio #alternativearchitecture

the deep dive into starting a business.

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motivations.

Consider your reasons for starting a business. Ask other small firms what their motivations were when first getting established.

See Architecture grew organically from the simple intention to slow down the pace of production and improve the work-life balance of architectural practice. The business has (for the most part) stayed the course of our original motivation while expanding it to ask broader questions about the industry and how we operate.

prerequisites.

Because architectural practice is held to such high legal, ethical and technical standards, there are a few necessary prerequisites that are known by all in the industry: license, knowledge of building science and applicable codes, care and attention to detail.

As young architects, we began our studio with little experience in finance and business management. Thoughtful research and trusted advisors were paramount to starting with the right legal and financial structures.

what helps

what hinders?

clients + project types

attitude

team

While it’s up to each studio to set their preferences on client and project types, our rule is simple: if it’s a good fit, consider it. We’re a service-based industry so it all comes back to client chemistry and values.

Be brave, be bold, stay humble! With any luck, your business will reward you for your hard work.

Team is everything! See Architecture had the benefit of an amazingly talented team from day one. At a certain point, a business can’t grow on the efforts of just one person. It takes the diversity, creativity, checks, and balances of a group.

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people and identity.

team.

See Architecture is an all-female team, focused on practicing the excellence of our craft while pushing the boundaries of studio culture and wellbeing. While we each offer a different perspective on life and architecture, we have worked together to understand and document where we are aligned in our pursuits and values. We believe architecture should be equitable, responsive and democratic.

The team’s complementary skillset means we’re well structured to each wear the many hats of small business management. It also means discussions and design charrettes are always multi-faceted.

identity.

Great care was placed in establishing our business identity early. As an emerging practice, it was important to us to be able to openly share our values with ourselves, our community, our clients and colleagues. Defining our core values together as a group helped align our individual attitudes and efforts while establishing a set of principles that now guide the direction of our practice.

resources.

books.

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community references.

  • Peers and mentors!

  • Organizations related to our industry and values: AIA, Architecture Lobby, Alliance for Community Development

  • Podcasts and forums like EntreArchitect and local Facebook groups.