Landscape architects share their insights on the challenges and
rewards of starting up a firm.
By Heather Hammatt, ASLA
Creativity, or the pursuit of a design philosophy, is often an
individual experience. So, it is not surprising that many designers,
at some point in their careers, choose to fly solo. Of those who
succumb to the entrepreneurial urge, only a handful will navigate
the market with any success. The stories of those who have "hung
out their shingle" and persevered reveal some of the issues and
challenges involved in starting up a firm or design office, and
may provide insight or initiative to those who will inevitably follow
in their footsteps.
According to Frank Stasiowski, author of Staying Small Successfully:
A Guide for Architects, Engineers, and Design Professionals,
most firms are started by one or more designers who have secured
a client or project. The owners are usually involved hands-on in
the design process and wear many hats in the management and daily
operations of the firm. Because of the size of the office, the number
of active projects is usually small, giving the designers time to
spend on their clients' needs and concerns. Marketing, management,
and design aspects of the firm are in close contact, their duties
often performed by the same people. Smaller firms often find it
valuable to focus their talents and then market that focus.
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