The Paradox of Developing Business Skills

Many small business owners that I’ve talked to identify numerous obstacles they encounter daily due to their lack of business expertise:

-       too much time spent at work

-       not enough time off to recharge their energy

-       hiring the wrong team members

-       problems building a productive team

-       poor, impetuous decisions

-       lack of confidence

These obstacles often trigger secondary problems like family dysfunction, health issues and poor decisions made on the spur of the moment, which they later regret.

Skills never picked up prior to going into business

When in conversation with prospective mentees about a program to help them develop business skills, they are often hesitant to make a commitment.

Surprisingly, their hesitancy is not usually a lack of money to pay for a training program, but rather the ‘extra’ time to do the work required to successfully complete a program.

This is the paradox: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement.

Too busy

They say they are too busy, that they are over worked or they have no time to spare to learn.  They say they lack the time to take a program where they could learn how to overcome their shortcomings and build a business that serves them vs destroys them.  Their sense of being too busy to make change means that they will forever be too busy, overworked and without enough time.

The success of the business program

requires the untrained businessperson to create necessary time for the lessons, the readings, the study and application of the learned concepts to their business.

The solution

You begin by taking a small step backwards now to learn business skills that will allow you to make giant steps forward in business success down the road.  Any time spent learning business skills in the course of the program will pay dividends every year afterwards.  Upon successful completion of the program you will experience:

            -  normal working hours, leading to a happier family life

            -  enough time off from work required to recharge your energy

            -  systematic hiring process ensuring the right fit to build a strong team

            -  creating an work environment where team members can achieve their best

            -  having all the right information to make better decisions

            -  confidence knowing you have the skills required for success.




 get rid of office frustrations

get rid of office frustrations


In a small office there are seldom middle managers.  So the owner, by default, assumes the role.  Beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of owner-manager, he is also often entrepreneur, technician and many other roles.  Many start-up businesses are begun by individuals with outstanding technical capabilities.  Their excellent skills as technicians cause them over estimate their capabilities as business owners and managers.



Soon, however, the new businessman begins to feel his shortcomings as a manager, and his limitations as a businessman.  This may not be evident when they work on their own; the shortcomings are not too evident.  Once he wins enough work to justify hiring staff, that’s when the difficulties begin.  He becomes frustrated when he cannot get the best out of his employees, deems them lazy and unreliable.  And, the employees are frustrated due to lack of leadership and management from the ‘boss’.  Many times employees become disenchanted and decides to move on to another company - a tragedy for both employer and employee.



Had some simple management systems been in place, the employer would have been able to build buy-in from the employees and achieve more productivity from his employees.  His employees would have worked in an environment of clarity and independence within the context of the company vision, management and systems.



I lived through this situation in my own office – it lasted over 20 years.  Often I was frustrated with my employees, although instinctively I knew it had something to do with my management or lack thereof.  But, I didn’t know precisely how to fix it.  Each time a promising technician or young architect announced his resignation, I was devastated.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, this management style, more accurately called non-management, went on for too long.   Eventually it came down to a simple choice, I could either learn and apply good management skills to my practice, or quit.

Before I outline some fundamental management systems techniques, I want to relate an example of one of my biggest frustrations, typical to the interface between my employees and I.



A junior employee, who we will call Justin, stopped by my office, when I was in the middle of writing a proposal that was due at day’s end.  Justin pops his head in my door and asks “my best friend is getting married in July next summer (6 months away) in Nova Scotia and I’d like a week off to attend the wedding.  He has asked me to be best man.”  Because I was focused on the task at hand, without really thinking about it, I said “yes, no problem, go ahead”.  In hindsight, I thought, all he would have had to do was plan is annual holidays around the wedding.

Three months later and 3 months before the wedding, again I’m busy doing my work and again Justin pops by my office and says“my friend has decided to postpone his wedding by 2 months to September.  Is it still OK if I take the time off?  Assuming he meant that he would be taking his holidays around the wedding, I said “ sounds OK to me”.

In mid August, Justin passes by my desk again and says “I just wanted to remind you that I’m going to my best friend’s wedding in September and you said you were OK with it.”  I said “hold on a minute, you’ve already had your holidays in July”.  He replied “You promised me time off for the wedding”.

We were both annoyed – I was annoyed that Justin wanted extra holidays, and Justin’s annoyed that I changed my mind.  Justin wound up going to the wedding, and as airline schedules would have it, it requires him to take two extra days off.  Unfortunately while

Justin was gone, we were in the middle of producing construction documents for our biggest job of the year.  The whole team had to work overtime to make up for Justin’s absence.


How could this situation have been mitigated and a solution satisfactory to both Justin and I? 



These types of failure occur frequently in a small offices when there are no management systems in place.  Lack of systems causes pitfalls in communication, leading to misunderstandings and acrimony.  If the business is recently formed, and employs just 1 or 2 people, then a lack of systems is not as harmful.  However, as the number of employees grows, the complexity of management responsibilities of an office grows exponentially.

Why most architects offices are small.

This complexity is best managed by creating a systems culture.  As the office grows, the accountabilities and responsibilities must be reviewed and adjusted.  To get on the right track from the beginning when an office is formed, leaders should implement 4 basic systems to improve communication and remove doubt from the many office interface situations.



1.      Standard Office Procedures (SOP) - SOP’s are a list of specifics about the office, such as work hours, payday, holidays, statuary holidays, time sheets, coffee time, dress codes, sick days, time off, etc.  Each team member should have a copy of this list as a quick reference at his desk to quickly refer to when in doubt about any detail of how the office operates.


2.      Day, Week & Month Plans – Before beginning any work, each team member is required to make a list of tasks for the day.  The first half hour of each day is dedicated to this task.  At this time the team member can communicate in a meaningful way with fellow team members and the ‘boss’ to fill up their task list for the day.  This system minimizes the number of interruptions throughout the day.

                  REQUEST FORM

3.     Request form – This a form that requests items pertaining to the time worked such as time off to attend family matters, extra time off on weekends, and for overtime for pay, etc.  This form is presented for consideration and is approved, adjusted or denied.

                  KEY FRUSTRATIONS

4.     Key frustrations process – From time to time situations arise where difficult or annoying situations arise.  In this process, the team members involved the situations meet and undertake a conversation where the situation is discussed in detail.  Ultimately, all the impacted parties agree to the solution.  The proceedings are recorded in case the situation needs to be when the solution is not satisfactory.


When these 4 basic systems are in place they will make the day-to-day life in the office much smoother and your team will work together more effectively as the rules of the game are clearly understood by all.


Once these fundamental systems are written and become culture in the office, you can move on to the development of additional systems to manage al of the other aspects of the office.  Together, these systems become an effective office management structure, especially in a smaller size office like yours.

            Links to systems information

Benefits of Systems

Writing Systems

Rolling out systems


Lingering low oil prices

The continued impact of lingering low oil prices has had a mixed impact on the economy in Alberta where oil is one of the major industries.  The oil industry has been the most severely impacted by low prices:  most oil companies have made major layoffs to their staff and are struggling to remain solvent.  Ancillary companies that are also dependent upon oil, also, have been negatively impacted.


Benefitting from lower construction costs

Companies that are not directly impacted by the oil industry are moving forward with minimal impact on their businesses.  Some industries, in fact, are benefitting from lower construction and commodity prices due the lack of demand.  Urban municipalities in Alberta – Calgary & Edmonton - continue to boast a robust construction industry benefitting from the lower prices and available trades.


Use slower times to plan and prepare for the upswing

Many small businesses have rode this roller coaster before and have learned how to cope in a recession market.  Some companies use slower times to plan and prepare for the upswing in the economy, which inevitably happens.


Over the life cycle of any company there are ups and down – it’s a fact of business.


“Anyone can run a business in good times, but only a well run business can survive an economic recession” Michael E. Gerber


So, how can a business survive and benefit from an economic downturn?

The following are actions to take to minimize impact from a recession:

1.      Plan ahead: have a plan in place for a slow down in the economy.  Assume it is going to happen.

2.      Keep your eyes and ears on economic trends so you will be able to identify a downturn and act proactively.

3.     When it hits, utilize the slow down to fine tune your business:

-       train & educate team members

-       cut the fat that built up during the good-times

-       develop systems which create efficiency

-       expand into new markets

-       investigate new products

4.     Spend more time and money on marketing and business development.  When it comes time for cutting, many businesses will make the first cuts to marketing, which is counter-productive and exacerbates the situation.

5.     Take time off from work and recharge your batteries.  There will be time to work long hours again when the economy picks up again.


My experience

In the course of running my business over 35 years, I’ve witnessed 3 major market downturns.  In hindsight, it’s easy to see what should-have or could-have been done: I should have seen these downturns as opportunities.  I may have not taken advantage of the economic downturns I weathered, but, based on my experience and advice, hopefully you can!


Remember, all companies who have been in business have experienced economic downturns. 


Get a jump-start when the economy swings back up

Those who are ill prepared for a downward change in the economy simply go out of business.    Many others eke out a survival by working long hours for little return on their efforts and endure the downturn with white knuckles and persistence.   A select few companies perceive an economic downturn as an opportunity to tune up their business practices, while there is extra time available.  These companies get a jump-start when the economy swings back up.  These turn out to be the highly successful companies.




Coach, confidant, advisor, councilor, sounding board, supporter, guide…………


1.  Regarding your work, do you have someone who knows your work and will give you honest feedback?

2.  Would you like to have someone who you could run an idea past before you actually try it?

3.  Do you know someone who knows you and understands what your strengths and weaknesses are?

4. Do you know someone who can ask you questions that will lead you to the best answer?

5.  Do you know someone who challenges your thoughts and takes you beyond where you’ve been to date?

6.  Do you have someone who you feel has your best interest in mind without imposing their ideas on you?

7.  Do you know someone who will keep your discussions confidential?



Throughout the early part of my life, through high school, technical school, grad school and work experience, I always had a mentor. These were teachers, friends or professors.  These mentors were a huge part of my journey as a successful student and team member. During these formative years I made great strides in my training and skills.   My success lent me confidence to begin my own practice in architecture.

During the first 2 years running my own practice, the firm prospered and grew to 12 team members.  This immediate success masked my lack of business know-how.  At this point, I got by on youthful energy.  I solved my problems with hard work and long hours.  I never thought about engaging a mentor, I thought I didn’t need one anymore.  I had become successful, all on my own abilities.

After 3 years in business, we experienced a recession.  As you know, design and construction are the first to slow down and slow down they did.  In one week alone,  my 3 largest projects were cancelled.  I had no work for my team, but did fortunately have a reserve fund, and managed to keep them employed - until the reserve fund was gone.  Then, one-by-one I laid off my staff until there was only myself left.  I went to my landlord to tell him I had to leave as I couldn’t afford the rent.  He chose to waive the rent for 2 years to help me get back on my feet.  He said “in this recession, I couldn’t rent the space anyway.”


A quote I’d heard hit me hard at this moment:

“anyone can be successful in a thriving economy, only a good businessman can survive a recession.”   

 I had plenty of time to begin developing my business skill.  After all,  I was determinednot to be a business failure statistic.  I continued to do whatever I could to stay solvent.  Many times during this period of recovery I was insolvent.  But, each time I was about to quit something came along to help me stay in business.


There was still something missing: I never considered engaging a mentor/coach to help me in with my business.  So alone for the next 10 years I learned by trial and error.  I managed to stay solvent, but never had any sustainable success.  No matter how hard I worked and how many hours all by business could manage was to survive.  I realized that I didn’t have the business experience to become successful. The choice was either to quit or learn to run a business.  I decided to find a mentor who could coach me on how acquire the business skill I lacked.


I looked around to find a mentor/coach who could help me eventually choosing an on-line program, which taught me the  essentials of practicing business.  The lessons were applied directly to my own practice, through the advice of a business coach and mentor who specialized in small business practice.  As the program progressed, I began to see its value, the nexus of this success was my mentor/coach.


In a way, I had come full circle.  As in my early education and training years I always had a mentor to help me with my career and keep me going in the right direction.  And it worked!  I learned that no matter how accomplished you are there is always someone who can elevate your business, someone who understands you.  Finding a mentor is the difference between long term success or failure.



Mentor relationship:  between one with life or business experience (mentor) and someone wanting help in travelling life’s path (mentee).

Carefully crafted questions by a mentor can lead the mentee to an awakening

A mentor can rephrase mentees questions, leading them to find the answers themselves rather that just be given the correct answer.  When the mentee discovers the answer to the question, it has a greater impact than when the answer is given.

Dealing with their mentee’s real-life situations or circumstances can be a more powerful learning method, with more hands-on circumstances than classroom learning alone.  As a mentee your interest is a much higher level when the topic is your own affairs. 

The mentor must ensure confidentiality, creating an environment where the mentee feels safe and free to discuss their most personal thoughts and their craziest ideas.

By introducing fun into the relationship, the mentor creates a positive open environment.

Ask the mentee to share thoughts about previous meetings – discussions will sometime trigger additional questions or enlightenments between meetings with the mentor.

When mentors share their own past follies, mistakes and failures, they expose their humanity and will break the ice with the mentee, who will then more readily share personal issues and thoughts.


When the mentee/mentor relationship is right the potential is endless.





"With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent."


In a recent article, Danny Iny of Mirasee writes:


A Stanford psychology professor named Carol Dweck has spent decades investigating why some people become high achievers while others fail to live up to their potential.


She concluded that it had little to do with intelligence or talent - in fact, many smart and talented people fail to achieve success *because* they're smart and talented.


It's counterintuitive, but Professor Dweck discovered that if you believe your smarts and skills are fixed aspects of your personality, you'll expect to be good at things without much effort...


...and that puts you at risk of spending too much time documenting and admiring your abilities instead of developing them further. By assuming you'll always be naturally brilliant, you neglect opportunities to grow and improve - so you stagnate in life's slow lane while other, less "talented" people overtake you.


At the other extreme are the people who feel inadequate in their abilities, so they expect to fail. They believe it's impossible to improve, so they convince themselves it isn't worth trying. If you think like this, no matter how much you want success, you won't *allow* yourself opportunities to achieve it.


Do you see the key word in both those examples of underachievement?




If you expect success without effort, you'll fail.


If you expect failure, you'll fail.


But if you expect success to come from systematic effort and progress towards well-chosen goals, then you're on the right track and you have every chance of succeeding.


The inventor of the IQ test, Alfred Binet, once wrote: "With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent."


And he should know, right? ;-)


To truly fulfill your potential, adopt a mindset of success and growth through persistent, directed effort.


Start today - choose one small thing you'd like to do better, and learn to make that improvement.


When I examine the stagnant periods of my life, when I am relying on the growth I have earned to date, I wonder why there is little progress.  After a considerable stagnant period I say to my self “I must get out of this funk” and proceed to examine my goals, see if they are still appropriate and modify them to reflect my current goals.  Then set up an action plan to achieve the newly adjusted goals.


To begin with the action plan is an up hill process – not much growth nor enthusiasm.  My action plan has evaluation milestones where I outline criteria that would identify any growth.  During these evaluations, I become aware of progress no matter how small – if I keep going I will achieve the goal.  Progress is the incentive that keeps me going –

success breeds success.


…. if you expect success to come from systematic effort and progress towards well-chosen goals, then you're on the right track and you have every chance of succeeding.

What two characteristics must be combined for success in business?

Once upon a time there was a farmer who owned 2 horses.  One was a workhorse, who had a very gentle disposition, worked hard, easy to manage.  You could say his characteristics were like:

            worked hard when the ‘chips’ were down

            never excited

            listen to orders/others

            didn’t judge



            did what was asked of him

            asked for help when he didn’t know what to do

            had no ego problems

            had fun with simple things.

He was an all around good horse, which made the farmer happy and quite well off.


The other one was a racehorse: excitable, hard to be with, hard to manage.

One day he bit the farmer and kicked him in the shin.  The horse was a constant embarrassment with his behavior and attitude problems.

His characteristics were much like this:

            very fast

            always excited

            seldom listened to orders



            seldom apologized

            never did what was asked of him

            never asked for help

            had a big ego

In spite of all his negative characteristics, when he was in a race, he mostly ran at the front and always won.  This winning was of great pride to the farmer, not to mention the money he’d won.   The farmer thought, if I could only make my racehorse more like my workhorse, I would be happy.


So, the farmer hired an animal psychologist to work with the racehorse to change his characteristics.  All winter long the racehorse and the psychologist worked together.

The farmer noticed the change.


In the spring when the racing season came, as every year, all were excited.  The farmer knew he would not have to be embarrassed about the antics of his racehorse.  In the first race, the racehorse went into the blocks without a hitch.  As the pack went out, the racehorse wound up in the middle.  The farmer watched and could see something was amiss.  It seemed the horse has lost heart.  At the end he finished at the back of the pack.  This had never happened before.


In subsequent races, the performance was much the same.  In the whole season the racehorse never won one another race. But, he now had a very gentle disposition, worked hard on his training, easy to manage.  You could say his characteristics were:

worked hared when the “chips” were down

            never excited

            listened to orders

            didn’t judge



            did what you said

            asked for help when he didn’t know what to do

            had no more ego problems

            had fun on simple things.


The following season was the same – not one race did he show respectfully and never won again.   So the farmer took him off the circuit and harnessed him up along side the workhorse.   Each day the racehorse became slower and weaker, eating and drinking little.  Finally, one morning, when he farmer came into the barn, the racehorse was dead.

Sadly he was shipped off to the glue factory.  


The farmer bought other racehorses, but none of them could ever win consistently with such excitement and flair.  None came close to measuring up the one that had died.  The farmer realized he’d made a terrible mistake by trying to change his greatest asset and had missed a once in a life-time opportunity.  He became so sad that he stopped eating and drinking and one morning his wife found him dead.  He died of a broken heart.


Look at the racehorse (designer) within you…………


Will you lose your design edge if you become more business oriented?

How do you blend design and business to become a success?

Do you fear you will diminish your design drive should you put more emphasis on business?

Will you jeopardize your design aptitude when you change your focus to business?

Can you admit the mistake of starting your practice without the necessary business skills?


Find out what’s missing in your business and determine how you can get on the track to success.

How do you get your team members started on a productive day?


In any small company, the manager has his/her own tasks to complete in addition to managing the day-to-day situations of the business.  If all of a manager’s  taken up by responding to team member questions and dealing with the issues  that arise, there is likely not enough time time to complete their own work. If there is not timeleft during the workday, a manager must resort to working evenings and weekends.


The Day Planning Process

The Day Planning Process is a pro-active system to create efficiency and time savings for both the manager and the team members.  The Day Plan is completed as the first task of each day.  Each team member outlines the tasks to be competed that day.  If they require help or input from the manager, he is available during this time period.  If the team member wants feedback on previously completed work, this is the time.  If the team member needs to interact with another team member, this time is set aside and booked in an organized dependable manner.  Should the team member have a meeting later in the day and wants to invite the manager or other team member, this is the time to make the meeting arrangements.  One all the team members have their day planned, they can go about their work without being interrupted or interrupting others.


Of course, any crisis situation overrides the system and interruptions may be acceptable.


Depending upon the nature of the work, it may be useful to permit communication between team members and managers in the last half hour of regular working day.

This time can be utilized for a number of useful aspects discussing work that requires inter-office communication.


Each team member’s day is filled with top priority work and he/she knows if there are questions or help required, there is time is set aside to do this in a way that is not disruptive – usually early morning or late afternoon each day.  Questions that are posed during these time are often answered better as the respondent will be fully focused on the exercise of exchanging information or giving help, rather than having his/her mind on their own tasks.


The impact on the manger, when he/she is not interrupted numerous times during the day:

-       has time to finish their own work

-       less errors in their work

-       less stress

-       less wasted time.  Even thought an interruption may only take 5 minutes it will take 1o – 20 minutes to restart the task that was interrupted.


Justin, our reliable team member, likes the Day Planning Process:

-       “it helps me to be fully prepared to get my day’s work done”

-       “it teaches me to think for myself”

-       “it gives me more reliable feedback on my work”

-       “it fosters independence in doing my work”

-       “I don’t interrupt and I am not interrupted, so I get my work done more quickly         with less errors”

-       “at first I was dubious on how this would help, but after using it for two months, I would never go back.” 

Why verbal delegations cause headaches for the manager?

A manager in any company is often overwhelmed by continuous interruptions from those reporting to him/her.  In order for managers to have enough time to complete their work, they need tools to minimize interruptions.  These interruptions eat up office time, which leads to managers their working through their evenings and weekends.



One tool to prevent this from happening is a Delegation Agreement (DA) through which manager outlines the task to be completed in writing as a work order, rather than a verbal task request.


Let’s look at a real example using a made-up name.  Before I knew what a Delegation Agreement was, I assigned Justin, a generally reliable junior team member, a task verbally.  The task was to be completed in two weeks fitted between his ongoing work as CAD technician.  I told him to check in with me after one week to see if there were any questions regarding the assigned task.


Justin said “No problem, I’ll get the job done”


As week passed and Justin came to me asking “Can you repeat the task details I promised to do.  I was so busy, I never had a chance to think about it.”  I repeated the task details, but I reminded him that the dead line was now only a week, same as before.


Again, Justin said “no problem, I’ll get it done”


The day before the task was due, Justin came to me and said “I’m running behind on the task you asked me to complete and will need a couple of extra day to finish.”

Another week went by and I asked Justin to show me the completed task. He presented it to me in incomplete form, using the excuse that the instructions provided to him were not clear.


I was angry and frustrated. 

During the course of completing this task I had numerous interactions with Justin with marginal results. This scenario often repeated itself, each time undermining my efforts toward creating a positive smooth operating company culture.


The frustration I felt led me to explore and research tools to do this differently.  I was happy to learn that there is an easy-to-use solution to address this recurring problem:   The Delegation Agreement.


In the Delegation Agreement, the manager lays out the task in detail, in writing.  The expectations of the completed task are clearly outlined as well as the deadline. Once the delegation is written it is reviewed with the team member or team members who are to complete the task.  All elements are reviewed until there is understanding and agreement.  The one expected to complete the task asks any questions and may want to change some aspect of the Delegation.  The Delegation is altered if necessary to mutual agreement.


Once consensus is reached, the Delegation Agreement is signed by both parties, each party receiving a copy of the agreement.


I gave Justin another task utilizing a Delegation Agreement.  He completed the task on time and to his managers complete satisfaction.  During the course of completing the task Justin had no questions and posed no interruptions to his manager.


Upon completion of the task the manager evaluates the work:  Is it on time or not?

Is it exceptional, very good, satisfactory or unsatisfactory?  The manager adds any remarks to give the team member useful feedback on the work offering a great learning opportunity.


This Delegation Agreement is then put into the team member’s employment file so that it can be referenced for year-end review and employee evaluation.


Since team members understand that they will receive feedback, they take extra effort and care to complete the tasks.  This Delegation Agreement along with others will form part of the employees annual performance review bringing factual information to the year-end performance review rather than vague memories of performance over the past year.   The employee will see this as an opportunity to impress the manager will want their success to be recorded, in order to justify requests advancement in the company.


In my experience as an owner and manager of an architectural firm, the Delegation Agreement is one of the most helpful tools to permit me to complete my tasks during the work day and be able to spend time with my family and my interests evenings and weekends. The benefits of using a Delegation Agreement include:

1.     tasks get done satisfactorily

2.     tasks get done on time

3.    the manager’s time interruptions are minimized

4.    the manager has time to complete his/her work

5.     the employee feels better with a sense of working independently

6.    the employee gets structured feedback on his/her work

7.     the employee is free of micro-management

8.     the Delegation Agreement creates a more positive company culture.


After Justin had completed a number of tasks using the delegation agreement, he told me “I like this system!  I don’t need to remember all of the task details, as I have written instructions, to refer to when I’m planning my weeks work.  Also, I know that a record of completed delegations are kept on my file and I know that when I complete work well, it give me a chance for growth and advancement in the company.”


Justin added “the Delegations Agreement get top marks from me”


As manager using this system it gets top marks from me as well, since I spend fewer evenings and weekends at work as I have time to complete my work during regular office hours.


Phone: 780 490 8831



Twitter: @archplusbis

Blog: Architecture+Business Blog

Author:  The E-Myth Architect   

Why Most Small Architectural Firms Don't Work and What To Do About

Lack of business skill leads to mediocrity


As a coach and mentor I’ve had a chance to talk to many small business owners who struggle with the frustrations and limitations in their business practice.  They frequently cite similar problems

-       issues with their team/staff members

-       lack of ability to acquire good clients

-       lack of time to complete their tasks

-       few and/or short holidays

-       unsure about finances

-       unreasonable expectations from clients


Acknowledging their problems, I ask them if they would consider engaging a coach or mentor to help them with their businesses.  Often, I notice them hesitate, eventually responding with a similar response:

                  -     they don’t have time

-       program costs too much

-       maybe later

-       they have stop-gap solutions to address their problems


Faster and longer

They are convinced that they are doing  “it” and they feel if they keep doing it faster and longer they will someday achieve success that never comes.  Without a change of direction it is not likely to happen.

I know better than anyone!  The drifter was me for the first 20 years in business.  But one day I realized my success would never come, unless I got help to achieve the dreams that, till then, eluded me.  Before I began my own business, I was a successful designer and technician within a large successful firm.  When I started my business it was marginal at best, but I clung on stubbornly, eking out a living for 20 years.  I only lasted that long  due to hard work and long hours.  My family was in disarray.


I faced a choice: quit the business or learn how to run it properly.


Chasing a mentor

I chose a mentor and began a program to address my weaknesses.  Before long I began to see that I was on the right path.  After 3 years of work, I transformed my company.  So profound was this transformation that after 10 years I decided to start a new business specifically to help small business architects with their business practice.  I wanted them to have what I should have had early in my career as a businessman.


What will it take for you to acknowledge your business is languishing and begin a program with a mentor to begin your pathway to success. 


Contact Architecture + Business

Arrange YOUR BUSINESS REVIEW.   This review will outline the status of your current business and recommend a program suited to you.


Phone: 780 490 8831



Twitter: @archplusbis

Blog: Architecture+Business Blog

Author:  The E-Myth Architect   

Why Most Small Architectural Firms Don't Work and What To Do About

3 key roles required to succeed in business

Every business requires three roles to be played to reach success:

the entrepreneur, the manager and the technician.


The Entrepreneur

-       Has the overall vision of all aspects of the company: the clients, the team, the    revenue, the expenses and all other fundamentals of the business.

-       States their vision in a compelling manner to their team, who buy into the story and invest loyalty.

-       Their unique offering is attractive to clients who partake of the company’s products and services.

-       They monitor business operations and makes tweaks, keeping the company on track adjusting to changes in the business environment.

-       He enjoys seeing their vision realized.


The Manager

-       Sees that the entrepreneur’s vision is brought to fruition.

-       Puts controls and systems in place to facilitate execution of the work effectively and                        efficiently.

-       Assembles a loyal team, that understands and believes in the vision.

-       Parcels out the work to meet the production goals required for solvency.

-       Enjoys seeing a smooth operating team.


The Technician

-                    Completes believes in the vision and the work required to realize the vision.

-                    Continually looks for ways to complete tasks in a better manner.

-                    Looks for challenges of solving detailed problems connected with their work.

-                    Enjoys leaving work each day being able to see the work they have completed that day. 


Each role player is different mindset.  In a small business these roles often overlap.  Being accountable for more than one role takes a great deal of discipline.  An individual wearing more than on hat needs to frequently ask “which role am I working on now?  How will this further the company?”

Most small companies are founded by technicians who have often achieved great success in their work (as technicians) for their former employers.  But, when they go into business for themselves they find little real success.




They may be exemplary technicians, however they never acknowledged nor mastered the roles of the entrepreneur or manager, and this gap results in a high failure rate for small companies.

Some of these companies don’t outright fail, but they struggle along year after year never reaching their potential, far from achieving the dreams on which they were founded.

Those technicians who succeed do so by acknowledging their weaknesses as manager and entrepreneur, and take rectifying action to compensate for this.  Acknowledging your weakness is the first and most important step toward ultimate success.


The next step is to take action.


There are many programs available to help those looking to build strength and overcome shortcomings.  And, it’s well worth it!  Those who have made this breakthrough and become true business people, (embodying the entrepreneur, manager and technician) often go on to become leaders in the business community

Although company owners must acknowledge the three different roles in a business, entrepreneur, manager and technician, they do not need not be an expert in all three:  just enough to know how crucial they are and shape the company structure to include them.


How can you make this happen in your own business?  How can you chart a new course?


As an experienced businessman, my recommendation is to find a coach/mentor to help you reach your goal of a company integrates these three roles.  What will the mentor/coach do for you?


1.      They will develop a learning program that is right for your company.

2.      They will help weave the learning into the culture of your company.

3.     They will maximize the impact the new methods of running your company.

4.     They will see your company objectively and advise you with their experience and a fresh set of   eyes.


Why invest money in a mentor?  Just consider all the opportunities and money you will miss by running a mismanaged business, one without clear vision.  Your acquired skills as technician will, for the most part, go to waste if you don’t find a mentor to develop your business skills, no matter how talented of an architect your are.


Acknowledge your limitations and take action to surpass them achieve the success that is rightfully yours.   Today is your first step toward realizing the dream you had when you founded your business.


Contact Architecture + Business and arrange YOUR BUSINESS REVIEW.   This review will assess the status of your current business and outline a program suited to you.


Phone: 780 490 8831



Twitter: @archplusbis

Blog: Architecture+Business Blog

Author:  The E-Myth Architect   

Why Most Small Architectural Firms Don't Work and What To Do About