In a small architectural firm many business skills are required. Lacking theses skills is like missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Missing pieces lead to underachievement, which of course leads to frustration. Different firms may be missing different pieces, preventing them from achieving the success of which they dream. Without these skills a firm many never reach its maximum potential despite its architectural prowess.
But wait! There is no need to despair. Thoughtful, proactive can help you avoid this fate
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR WEAKNESSES
In the early years of my business practice, I did not acknowledge my business weaknesses. I invented a ‘homemade’ style of doing business. My practice trundled on that way for many years, ‘hanging on by a thread’. Never considering that my attitude and lack of expertise was the issue. I opted to play the blame game. I attributed my lack of success to my clients, my staff, contractors, the economy, the authorities at city hall, etc. It must be everyone else’s fault, I thought. After all, I had many skills as an architect and designer, and that should be enough to begin and operate a business, right? I didn’t acknowledge that being in business required new skills that I didn’t possess.
Eventually I became tired of ‘hanging on by a thread. I looked in the mirror and said either learn the necessary skill properly or quit the business. I acknowledged my weakness – a lack of business skills.
COMMITMENT TO CHANGE
Once I acknowledged my weaknesses, I addressed it. The question that hadn’t been solved at the time was, how could I change my practice to learn and integrate the business skills necessary to achieve success? Looking at my business that had struggled along for many years, overhauling it seemed a daunting task.
What to do? Where to start? Who to help me and how to afford the cost. How to implement change while still conducting business?
These questions circled around and around in my head until one day I looked in the mirror and said – “I commit to change and will do whatever it takes. I will be open to change and new ideas. I will struggle and work till I achieve my goal of succeeding. I will do whatever it takes”.
I suppose one could undertake a self-help program to learn business. That would probably take a long time and a lot of uncertainty. Finding help and being open to help to transform your business is crucial to implementing change. But, help costs.
Remember my reflection ‘I will do whatever it takes’. For me, this meant spending to get the help to achieve the success that had long eluded me. In hindsight, the money spent to get help to learn business, was great value was worth every cent. So you must commit to do ‘whatever it takes’, including paying for professional help. By way of example, imagine someone designing a building for himself – it laughable.
Find a mentor/coach that suits your style of learning. Just remember there is not ‘silver bullet’ that is a mentor/coach can give you to be successful. The path is long, but with hard work and your openness to change, your coach/mentor will help you achieve your goal of success.
IDENTIFY YOUR WEAKNESSES – top three
You may have many weaknesses, however choose the three which you feel are the ones that are most critical to you. These weaknesses need to be outlined in writing so you can create a plan of overcoming them. Along with your weaknesses, outline what your business would look like if these weaknesses were to be overcome.
By itemizing your weaknesses in writing, you along with your mentor can develop a program to do what it takes to become proficient and overcome your challenges. Also, once you evaluate see how you’ve over come your weakness, your new found success will give you incentive to tackle other weaknesses and keep going. And, so you work your way through your business achieving strength where there was once weakness. As you gain these strengths one-by-one you will start to see the overall strength of your company and can then realistically target the success that you dreamed of.
25 YEARS TO REALIZE
It took me nearly 25 years to come to the point when I decided to either quit the business of architecture or change the way I practiced. I appeal to those of you who feel that they need to take a more business-like approach to their practice. Take the first step to NEWCO a new approach and you begin the journey toward realizing the dream you had for your career as an architect.
THE E-MYTH ARCHITECT by Norbert Lemermeyer
Why Most Small Architectural Practices Don’t Work and What To Do About It.This book outlines in detail how I made the transition from OLDCO to NEWCO.