Office Life: Architects as Entrepreneurs

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I bet when you were going to Architecture school, sitting in studio, you rarely thought about all the ‘additional’ things that the profession would require of you beyond your design skills.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the profession deals with, and relies upon, business.



Especially early on in your career, the business side of practice probably doesn’t affect you much (aside from a regular paycheck). You may have had a small bit of exposure to it in a Professional Practice class or you may have had the fortune of working directly with a Partner to understand how business integrates with architecture.

But for most of us though, the idea of ‘business,’ isn’t the reason we pursued architecture as a career. I’ve personally always wanted to either run my own firm or partner with a firm that I believed in and that held the same interests as I do.

Yet as much as I like the idea of that, it was never my first reason for becoming an architect - design, problem-solving, and creation were.

As my career evolves though, ideas begin to change and become influenced by time and experience.



What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?

I used to think of entrepreneurs as people who went to fancy business schools, bought big houses and expensive cars, and lived a life of luxury. As my experience grows over time, however, I realize more and more that ‘entrepreneur’ can mean a wide variety of things.

To me, an entrepreneur is some who builds businesses. Maybe that’s only one business, or one business at a time, but it's the practicality of creating and fostering business.



Since, as architects, we don't get the education we need to run businesses from our school experiences, several experts have emerged to fill the void.

They have established their own firms and then used the knowledge they've gained to build educational platforms that educate architects on best practices in their own businesses.


EntreArchitect / Mark R. LePage

Entrepreneur Architect was originally launched as Mark’s personal blog in 2007 and relaunched as EntreArchitect in 2012. Mark has been a champion of entrepreneur architects for years, establishing his expertise on the EntreArchitect Blog and Podcast.

He has launched several products including Digital Courses, Document Templates, Webinars, and other Tools to help the eager entrepreneur architect succeed in 'Architecture, Business, Leadership, and Life.'


Business of Architecture / Enoch Sears

The Business of Architecture brand has established itself as ‘the Business Development 101 for Architects that isn’t offered in school.’ Enoch’s blog and podcast provide a fascinating look at architects in practice and the paths they’ve taken to become successful entrepreneurs.

He's also written a book, "Social Media for Architects," which he passes on to his newsletter subscribers for free.


Architect + Entrepreneur / Eric Reinholdt

Eric’s book series, ‘Architect + Entrepreneur,’ helps architects get their businesses up and running quickly. The first volume focuses on startups while the second volume deals directly with passive forms of income.

As Eric says, ‘Building a business isn’t a singular act; it’s a series of small steps.’ Eric is a fantastic teacher who’s writing breaks down these ’steps’ succinctly in ways that are both easy to understand and easy to execute. It should also be noted that Eric has a wonderful YouTube Channel as well that teaches viewers more about practice through video.



This week, I highly recommend that you check out the resources I’ve listed above for more information on how business can affect the profession.

As you do, ask yourself a few questions. Where do you stand with the business side of architecture? Do you think it’s relevant? Are you just concerned with design? Are you inherently an entrepreneur?

Knowing the answers to some of these questions can help you navigate the profession in a much more practical way. It may even reveal what you’re ultimately interested in.

As someone said to me in passing the other day, “the farther you get into your career, the stronger the pulls are to become a business person.”

His point being that we get more responsibility until, one day, we’re either willing to stay where we are, or we move into a role of business control. So, knowing who you want to be can have a dramatic effect on how the business of architecture will affect you.

'Business' doesn't have to be a negative word.

Are you an Architect? An Entrepreneur? Both?

I leave it to you to decide.

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CareerMichael LaValley