Architect + Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business

Courtesy of Eric Reinholdt

The inherently dry subjects of  development, marketing, P+L reports, taxes, and insurance are less likely to feed the intellect of the architect than discussions of materiality, parallax, articulation and form. Yet the reality of what it means to practice architecture, by necessity, requires reconciling these two divided worlds. Nowhere is the need to unify them as great as with the startup design business.

Author, award-winning architect and founder of the firm 30X40 Design Workshop, Eric Reinholdt, explores these topics in “Architect + Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business.” Part narrative and part business book, Reinholdt advocates new approaches and tools that merge entrepreneurship with the practice of architecture and interior design. The book offers a framework for starting a design practice in the 21st century which leverages the lean methodology to create a minimum viable product and encourages successive small wins that support a broader vision enabling one to, “think big, start small, and learn fast.”

Read on after the break for an excerpt from Chapter 2 – Getting Started.

21 Rules for a Successful Life in Architecture

The Offices of BIG. Image Courtesy of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

Originally published by Entrepreneur Architect, Associate Professor at Louisiana Tech Kevin J Singh gives his 21-point rundown of how to have a successful and happy life as an architect. The list gives some pointers that will certainly help young students and graduates, but may well be useful to some of the not-so-young practitioners who need to refocus on what’s important.

The following is a compilation of my professional lecture on the last day of class. Instead of recapping the course or giving a final exam, I share with my students a presentation titled Advice as You Finish School and Start to Practice. I present a series of statements followed up with a brief explanation.

How Much Will It Cost to Start My Own Architecture Firm?

The office of Selgas Cano Architecture. Image © Iwan Baan

Starting your own firm is a daunting task, especially if you’re not completely sure of what you’re getting yourself into. Author Mark LePage, founder of Entrepreneur Architect knows this firsthand. This guide, originally published on Entrepreneur Architect, discusses the financial implications of starting your own firm and acts as a guide through the challenge, leading you to success. 

How much will it cost to start my own architecture firm?

That is a question that many of my readers ask me each week. The answer will certainly differ depending on whom you ask. When architects ask me how much it will cost to launch an architecture firm, I say, “as much as you need.”

Below I will discuss the very basics required to launch a sole proprietor architecture firm. Depending on your circumstance and the region in which you live, the numbers may vary for you.

6 Tips to Build Business in the Digital Age

Courtesy of

This article, which originally appeared as “Clients for Life: 6 Tips to Generate Leads and Build New Business” on Line Space Shape, is by Ken Micallef; it features the advise of John Beveridge, a 30-year veteran in the management-consulting industry. 

“Like most small businessmen,” Beveridge says, “I too am a small- guy trying to compete with bigger companies, trying to generate leads.”

To that end, Beveridge stresses the importance of marketing. But creating a business website is only the first step.

See Beveridge’s 6 tips to building business, after the break…

How to Start a Practice

“Successful practices have launched in earlier recessions, and will do so in this one. It is wise, however, to be armed with as much knowledge as possible”, concludes BD‘s most recent research paper “How to Start a … and Keep it Running”. The document, containing advice on every aspect of setting up a , from naming it to chasing late payments, aims to provide just that knowledge.

Read more about ‘How to Start a Practice’ (including how to get a 50% discount) after the break…

Video: Architecture and Business

Jenn Kennedy, author of Success by Design and AD collaborator, shared with us this interesting video in which she asked an influential group of architects about their direction. These testimonials by Dan Meis, Art Gensler, Lauren Rottet and Steven Ehrlich give us valuable insights on running a successful firm.

Thesis = Business: PROJECTiONE


Recent graduates of the Masters program at Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning, Adam Buente and Kyle Perry have spent the last couple years developing their unique interests and ideas into a business of their own. Working with fellow students Elizabeth Boone and Eric Brockmeyer, they began a collaborative graduate project focused on exploring the possibilities of design and fabrication via digital equipment as a business platform. After their first year out of school they have begun to independently manage their Indiana based company. PROJECTiONE recently produced the ACADIA competition winner HYPERLAXITY and boast other projects such as EXOtique, bitMAPS, and Radiance. Words and images from the PROJECTiONE team after the break.

The Business of Architecture: Panel recap

2x8: Source student exhibit at the Architecture and Design (A+D) Museum, where the panel took place. Photo: © A+D Museum

Why do architects choose architecture? Typical reasons include a deep passion for form and a desire to leave meaningful, functional design as a legacy. Rarely do you hear that an architect held a burning desire to do business and THIS was their chosen means to that end. Rather, doing business is necessary to follow their pull toward architecture. And so the industry is filled with capable architects who know little about the mechanics of running a firm. Payroll, HR, , sales and public relations are foreign topics. They want the , but they don’t know how to get them. They need employees, but lack management skills or knowledge of how to team build, recruit or downsize during a recession.

In the coming months, I’ll be writing various articles to address these topics that impact architects running their own business – large or small. We’ll also consider marketing ideas that have a proven track record of helping companies differentiate from the competition.

As part of the 2×8: Source student exhibit at the Architecture and Design (A+D) Museum in Los Angeles, we recently assembled a diverse panel to discuss the business of architecture from the student’s perspective. To a crowd of 60 plus, we covered topics that ranged from getting noticed by employers and taking risks, to applying past experiences and methods of differentiation from the competition. I facilitated our panel, which included: Steven Ehrlich, FAIA; Barton Myers, FAIA; Kat Fern, ASID, IDEC and Nancy Horne, architecture and design recruiter.

The theme that consistently surfaced was the importance of relationship building and the ability to communicate. Those skills set apart those who have excelled. Some highlights from each panelist are below.